Guyanese Christmas

There is nothing better than the Holiday Season at home, why dream of a white Christmas when you can live happily in your green paradise?

Pepperpot, Roast Beef, Garlic Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Gravy, Baked Chicken, Black Cake, Roast Pork, Ginger Beer; Wow! My mouth is just watering thinking about Christmas food.

No Christmas in Guyana would be well spent without a taste of one or more of these dishes. Our culinary skills are practically second to none in the Caribbean, and the Christmas season is the best time to ‘tek a taste’.

I will surely be browsing through some of Cynthia Nelson’s recipes to diversify things a bit. A good place to find her weekly tastes is The Scene or you can go directly to the source, her food blog Tastes Like Home.

Of course food is not the only thing in Guyana that makes the holidays unique. Who can forget the endless Home Alone movies blasting from Channel 13 every year without fail? And from some of the other stations too! Now there is a Home Alone 5 to add to the tradition!

No Christmas in Guyana is complete without shopping on the busy streets of Georgetown! The sweet hustling and bustling of the capital; the Christmas songs; the promotional marketing; the smells of new products and new recipes all add to the one-of-a-kind experience. Now the Camp and Regent street junction is just as good as New York’s Times Square.

But all of these things are material, what about the true spirit of Christmas? There is the giving to loved ones, children and the less fortunate; and forgiving who might have wronged you during the year.

I cannot forget the Courts’ Main Street light up, Fogarty’s Santa Parade and Main Big Lime (Now the Main Street Christmas Village). Sure these mega businesses do a little promotional marketing but the essence of their celebrations is to usher in a sense of family tradition. There are some families who make it their annual priority to witness the spectacle of Main Street trees sparkling and glittering above them; some young romantic couples will walk under the sparkles, tingling with the Holiday spirit.

But all my childhood experiences, all my love for food and Regent Street shopping, all my desire for walking under the dazzling lights can never be compared to what I saw this Christmas.

Grocery shopping with my mom is something I love doing. It is like our little tradition – but being stuck in the narrow, crowded aisles of a supermarket this time of year is not in my books. I saw an employee stocking the shelves and he appeared just like you and me – minding his own business, smiling and working. Mom tapped the man on his shoulder to ask for assistance. He turned around and she began to ask him a question, but he calmly raised his hand as if saying stop; he pointed to his ears then waved; then he pointed to his mouth and shook his head. He then pointed to another supermarket stock clerk, redirecting mom’s attention.

I stood stock still looking at this smiling man, deaf and dumb but making the best of his life, best of the season, best of his opportunity. Why this amazed me is because I personally had never come across such an occurrence. I had assumed that Guyana was not really geared to such inclusion. I was wrong. There is hope.

From that moment, the spirit if the Holidays ignited in me. I applaud the grocery store for employing him and not treating him as he is inadequate or incapable; giving him hope and happiness; I applaud his co-workers who smile with him and all the customers who are genuinely touched to be served by him. I wish you all a very Merry Guyanese Christmas and may the Season inspire you. (Jairo Rodrigues)



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