What would Christmas be, without the ability to experience it in all its glory, through the use of our senses? For me, there is a distinct recollection of the holidays, as experienced by a young man in rural Jamaica in the 1970s.
There was no such thing as a white Christmas growing up, of course; but we truly looked forward to the sights and sounds of the season. For me, as an active member of the school choir, we’d start rehearsing our Christmas pageant songs from September, and hearing the songs that we all know so well, but love to belt out, is what started the season for us. Later on, as we got close to the day, we’d excitedly prepare for our caroling, which would consist of walking through the town before dawn on Christmas morning, singing to our hearts’ delight.
One of our most beloved traditions was “Grandmarket Night”, which is a huge, town-wide celebration, on Christmas Eve itself. How big? Think of Halloween on 6th Street, multiply by 10, and you’ll be close. Walking through the town; smelling and tasting all of the food that the various vendors had for sale; listening to a combination of Christmas and reggae tunes blaring from the speakers; and enjoying being around each other, is the best recollection of the holiday season for me.
Being a child at Christmas in Jamaica is long in the past- so much so that it can sometimes feel like it happened to a different person entirely; but I thank God to have imbued in me, the memories of such a simple, yet priceless, lifestyle, that afforded us the ability to fully experience, through all of our senses, the wonder of the Advent season.
May God be with us all, this Christmas and beyond.