photo - deacondance.comAs we celebrate the Christmas season, gift giving, family time, and the birth of our Lord, preparation is in full swing. Children with smiles on their faces and toys in their hands and their homes are decorated and under the Christmas tree. Pause a bit. For whom are you being Santa Clause?

Beyond the commercialization of this holiday season, I remembered when I was a child our family infused religious meanings into us about what Christmas represented. It was as much a family and faith-based experience as it was a time for rest and reflection.  

Throughout every village, every small town and major capital city in the Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean islands, there was plenty of action.  Neighbors, friends and families spent a lot of time cleaning the entire house, taking out every last bed, cup, cloth outside, getting down on your knees and scrubbing the floors with dettol, cleaning the windows while the children was outside washing every dish, wiping down every piece of furniture, sweeping up the yard, until the entire place rise to the holiday spirit of shine homes, tasty foods, and night time caroling, and daylight cake exchanges!

Some time before midnight, the floors were waxed and dried. The task of moving back all the items inside the home was both a release and a joy. While the children were either sleeping, decorating the home or playing, parents were mixing cake and puddings, baking sweet bread and banana sweetness, while daughters with the help of sons, were putting up new or washed and ironed curtains. All this action was to get the house and the family ready to welcome Jesus’ declared birthday.

I still wonder how our parents’ were able to produce such finger-licking good culinary delights using a coal pot. These goodies were placed inside the coal pots. And these coal pots were nicely arranged with fire on top and inside the arch of that little brown baking machine. Our mothers would inspect the cakes and puddings and banana breads, and sometimes we could hear them saying “some fire needs to come off the top or add more to arch of the coal pot.”

Lord knows, that sweetness would come out perfect, out of a sheer baking skill and a deep devotion to preparing great food. Mark you, this was a time before oil, gas and electric stoves were popular. So our parents only had the technology of experience and the equipment of joy to guide them.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, all feet headed to church. Before all the feasting and gifting began, we all went to praise and thank God for his blessings. The focus was on sending Jesus, the Christ child to make sacrificial offering for our sins. There were testimonies and confessions.  We gave thanks but we also asked for transgressions to be forgiven. Our righteousness was wrapped in humility and self-awareness of our filthy rags.  The Cross was at the center of our musings and memories.

After thanksgiving, it was time to feast. Every effort that was put into folks buying pork and goat meat, chicken and beef was sizzling with readiness for eating.  Every house in the village, regardless of socio-economic status had food and drinks for expecting visitors. Once you visited a friend or family member or neighbor, you got some combination of rice and peas, stew pork, cakes, puddings, sorrel, ginger beer and who can forget, chicken boiled, stewed, fried and even baked. All took something home as a memorial from the menu.

Very few of us in those days, were able to see the towering feminine grace, and womanhood inner strength that Mary, the Mother of Jesus had bequeathed to every mother whose tireless effort to their families’ surviving and thriving was and always has been a labor of love in sacrifice and action. Imagine with me what it must have felt like for Mary to answer a strange God-sent request. It was outside of her cultural norms and way over her ethical head. Mary was asked to bring a fatherless child into the world. How would she explain this sexless pregnancy?  

It was going to put her virtue out for scorn and her integrity up for ridicule. Who amongst us would ever allow any angel to spoil engagement and topple our prospect of marrying the man of your dreams? Mary was a virgin at the time, remember the angel told her not to be afraid, why would Mary be afraid?  She would be afraid because her Hyman was not intact, and this translated into personal spiritual shame and complete familial embarrassment. To comply with God’s request, Mary had to risk being stoned to death. That’s what most good mothers would do for their children; they would risk death and dying.

Although my mother died several four years and nine months ago and had she lived, she would have celebrated on December 23, 2012, seventy five (75) years of marriage, this Christmas I am remembering her Mary like attributes: kind, tender, honest, open and loving. My mother was a strong disciplinarian and a fine cook. 

Boy, she could turn bits and pieces of food into a great feast, especially at Christmas. To every Mary out there whose life of tireless love and maternal care incarnates Christmas in everything thing she does to ensure that there is love at home, I hope this Christmas meets you in good spirit! To all Mary’s children and countless seeds, I wish that the New Year bring you all the challenge and blessing you need to fulfill your destiny and to honor your calling to become all that the Christ child wants you to become! 

Hits: 3189

2 Comments In This Article   



#2 me one » 2013-01-04 21:53

Lord man Oswald no do that to me

me one


#1 joe grind » 2013-01-01 20:37

Thank you Dr. Oswald for this lovely written story. I will copy it and send it onward. God bless.

joe grind

Add comment

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas Dr. Oswald R. Thomas is a Certified and Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist with the American Board of Hypnotherapy, the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, and the International Board of Medical and Dental Association. He is founder of the Thomas Center Human Development, Inc. and serves on Bronx Mental Health Committee, served on Community Board #5 in the Bronx, and the Bronx Neighborhood Planning Committee as Chair of the Youth Committee. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Human Services, Dr. Thomas is a counseling therapist/Behaviorist, and Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

Follow us on Facebook

Spotlight on Education

Previous Next
Govt to give Two Uniforms
Antigua St. John's - Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro has confirmed...  Read more

Latest Opinions by Dr.Oswald R Thomas


Android LogoDownload Caribarena's Android App Click To Download

Find us on Twitter!