Fortunate still to be experiencing more months to my age and life span, I am increasingly wont to restrain my “celebration” of the Festival of Christmas.From poor, challenging childhood to teens the BG “colonial Christmas“ were a grand mix of European traditions and (British) Guianese elements- from the wintry jingle bells, sleighs, snow and frosty to masquerade, steel band tramps, breaking-up-the-house, renewal and church-going — and yes, our own delectable Christmas Cuisine. Later as father to four daughters, I did all that was demanded fairly or unnecessarily- to provide for those special Christmases “for the children.”
The children- my girls- are all adults and overseas now. And I have become more and more cynical over both the unrelated images and traditions and the rampant commercialisation of “the season.” After all, that Divine Miraculous Birth was reportedly so humble and poverty-related that it is almost sacrilegious to associate the Bethlehem stable with Georgetown’s Regent, Robb, Sheriff and Water streets.
Okay Okay, I’m not that post-seventy selfish or isolated from the “reasons”. Gifts are necessary because the greatest gift, Baby Jesus, was God/Word made flesh to walk amongst us and wise men offering gifts according to Christian doctrine (or myth). And what better time to buy and buy to rejuvenate our dwellings for a new year? Which brings me to this Christmas 2016 and reasonable expectations – and realities.
Coalition Christmas #2
This second Christmas season under the APNU+AFC Coalition Partners was heralded, in the main, by the administration’s third National Budget.
All the P.R. spin in the world can’t change the fact that it is a “taxation-budget” wherein the working-class is called upon to tighten their belts and their spending as their current and new taxes – direct and indirect – are utilised to help keep a challenged economy afloat.
The spirit of the season always survives however. Catholics sustain their advent services and rituals; additional charity is dispensed; both European and Caribbean/Guyanese music appropriate to the festival engulfs the atmosphere as do the wholly irrelevant symbols and imagery of holly, ivy, chestnuts, mistletoe and “Christmas trees” – European style.
But in my residential section of Georgetown fairy lights are few compared to Christmases past. Mr Budget 2016 Scrooge dictates restraint and modesty in spending, parties and new furniture. To me all that is good and welcome. Control the commercialism in the name of the Christ Child! As I’ve written before Christmas is largely a welcome delightful lie! No baby was born on December 25. That date is the doing of some Pope Julius who, allegedly, chose the December date to win over adherents of the popular Saturnalia festivals. He was doing his bit to absorb pagans into Christianity.
So even as I welcome the moderation influenced by Minister Jordan’s estimates, I wonder what 2017 holds as a result of his “finest Budget” – still a strategy to offer us “the good life in a green economy”(?)
Thief-think: Where to rob
Over the years I would do a Crime Watch Guyana piece under the theme “Think like a thief”.
It was/is my journalistic dramatic device to invite all citizens to be security conscious, in terms of anticipating bandits’ plans to commit Christmas-time robberies, burglaries and other very harmful “invasions.”
So this portion is simply that: consider how and what the professional/career thieves and robbermen plan at this time. And try your best to pre-empt and prevent.
Where would they strike? Where overseas relatives stay; after staff parties; after withdrawals from banks; when in hardware stores; village groceries; cambios; delivery trucks. Now you add to that list. What could you, family and colleagues do to prevent or later detect the criminals?
Business people have their anti-crime task cut out at this time. Added professional security? Technology? Neighbourliness? Oh! The Guyana Police Force? Good luck and better safety and security by year-end and beyond.
Another plea for (us) pensioners
I again petition my President and Finance Minister to consider actively this nation’s over-60/65 pensioners. At this time of goodwill.
Two upfront points: Our President and Minister should be pensioners themselves! (Some senior citizens actually earn two/three pensions.) Secondly a society such as ours does not really accommodate retirement in any real sense. Male and female seniors here have to work until they drop! No real retirement-vacations or optional employment. Only overseas assistance.
That is why I ask the National Commission on the Elderly to become more activist and practical in 2017. For example, do you know just how many Guyanese seniors are over 65 in this country? Why can’t this small number be better considered? Will the over-60’s retired employees receive any 25%? What Social Protection!? Regard and reward Guyana’s Ole People!
Consider this Christmas…
Does the President know of American Ambassador Holloway’s anti-narcotics background?
Does our Opposition Leader know of Ambassador Holloway’s anti-drugs reputation?
Are bonuses, box hands and penny banks still around at Christmas-time?
Mr Neil Marks is a top honcho in the professional Guyana Press Association. He is exemplary in his profession and representation. So what did he do wrong?
By year-end acquire that abandoned Stabroek Co-op Bank building to convert into a modern vendors mall, (No parking meters!)
Til next week!