We are in a season where the cries of Guyanese at home and even some abroad have become constant. Issues like the budget and the crime linger in the minds of many. Our concerns and questions about the way forward give life to rants both written and verbal. The disconnectedness between the government and the people is affecting the health of our nation. Though our issues are not unique, in a population as small as ours it sometimes feels like we are immersed in misfortunes and the good things that do happen slither by without much notice.
We are also in the season that is labeled the most wonderful time of the year. Though for Guyanese 2016 has been a taxing year that has left many feeling despondent, betrayed and unsatisfied with the country’s progress or lack thereof, the crowds, the traffic, the shopping, the drummers, the masqueraders and the parties all indicate that Christmas is fast approaching and Guyanese are ready to celebrate.
There was a time when I also thought that this season was the most wonderful time of the year. As a child who participated in Christmas concerts at school and sang in the choir I adored the season. The parties and the Santa Clauses ignited feelings of joy and the presents that were received satisfied months of anticipation.
As most children, for a time I too was caught up in the myth about Santa coming in the middle of the night to leave presents while you slept. There were those times when I tried to stay awake to see if something magical would happen, but looking back now I have to wonder if I did not somehow always know the truth. If somehow I did not always know that it was impossible for one man to make his way around the world in one night flying with a sleigh and reindeers. But many of us continue to perpetuate the lie and get our children caught up in the fantasy.
Is it ever really right to lie to our children? And why would anyone want to give credit to someone else for the hard work they would have done to make their children feel special?
While Saint Nicholas who lived in the 4th century, and who was a gift giver inspired the character Santa Claus, why continue the lie?
My love for Christmas continued into my teenage years. I could not wait for September to play Christmas music and by October I was ready to ‘bruk up de house’. It was also a time when one looked forward to barrels and was excited to receive the ‘prags’ relatives and friends would have sent. This tradition continues and many also look forward to the ‘small piece’ that Uncle or Aunty would send.
It was in my late teens that I started losing interest in most of the things related to Christmas. My awakening led me to question many of the traditions. Reindeers and snow for example are far from the Guyanese reality yet many fantasize about such. Eventually all that really interested me about the season was the food. There are very few Guyanese who would turn their noses up on pepperpot and for some people without black cake and garlic pork there is no Christmas.
But the more I matured the more I realized that much of Christmas is about commercialism. Businesses boom during this time and the masses often spend more on wants than needs. Though there is still the religiosity that is marked by displays such as nativity scenes, carol singing and church services, Santa Claus features more than Jesus. Even though many Christians have longed acknowledged that their Saviour was not actually born on Christmas Day, they still revere December 25th.
Christmas has long evolved into a universal holiday however. It has managed to creep into cultures worldwide and many folks who are not religious or are of a different faith would find themselves partaking in the season. It is a time of year where many feel moved to show their loved ones that they care and to be kind to their neighbours.
As I walked around Georgetown this week, I observed the bustle while being cautious about my surroundings. In addition to the spate of robberies we have been experiencing, thieves have always been known to linger among the crowds during this time of year waiting to ‘pick pockets’ and steal anything they can.
As I observed the many shoppers I could not help but think about the $25,000 bonus for public servants earning $500,000 or less that the government announced last week. While some rejoiced and showed gratitude others grumbled that it was not enough. Others encouraged those who would be the recipients to save a little.
It is no secret that many people often spend every last dime to make Christmas Day special. After the homes would have been elaborately decorated, and they would have cooked more than enough and exchanged gifts, many would be left with a hole in their pockets.
January and February are known as difficult months because of the pattern of over expenditure at Christmas. In adulthood this has never made much sense to me. But a person going beyond their means for one occasion is not exclusive to Christmas. There are many people who on occasions would spend all they have to clothe themselves for one night of reveling only to have nothing to eat the next day.
While Guyana is a land where many people are considered poor, people have to be smarter with how they spend their money especially around occasions like Christmas. While the temptation is there to splurge, people must stop to consider what they can really afford. It is never a bad idea to save a little.
So while everyone wants to enjoy this season it is not wise to spend all one’s money to celebrate a day or two only to be starving for a month. And while many take this time to be kind to others it might be helpful to make the gestures of goodwill a part of our everyday lives which might ease the tensions and hopelessness that many people feel at this point in Guyana’s history.