Did this one about two times before but the last time was 2006 (imagine I had more commentors then than I have now. Boy this de-recession got liking even mi blog) and thought I'd sort of remix it (a third time) and offer it up again. Its a long post (even by my standards) so tek ya time and read it and in case I don't blog again before Christmas all the best and Enjoy the Holidays.
de de do do doo doo doo
I took the role of lead singer
Parang soca in Arima
Fans heard of my parang band so thousands flocked the grandstand
Ne-ville Cook was the mc
When he intro-duced me
People jumping like carnival
To my rendition of serenal??
Who no rampu no paratha
Maria Maria Maria!
From Port o Spain to Faisabad everybody know Jdid mad
Maria Maria Maria
Was listening to the calypsonian Crazy sing some parang yesterday (I still cant decipher those words even though I've heard this song a million times) trying to get myself into the real Christmas spirit. Didn't work lol. Might be too late for me but give me the old time parang, a Christmas ham cutter and
"a gallon a rum, a gallon a rum, all I want is a gallon a rum
..........ya bringing ya family ta eat me out
and then in January cant even buy a stoute".
So my selector rewind cause, ol time Christmas come back again if not for real at least in my memories. For me it was all about the music, the food and the Christmas program at the Church.
Christmas back then to me was more that the one day. As a child there was so much anticipation of the actual Christmas day that sometimes when it arrived it was a bit anticlimactic.
But leading up to that actual day. Oh wow! Fun and excitement cann dun!
In Barbados, once Independence day was finished and December 1st hit, bram! Christmas music would be pounding down non-stop on our local stations; CBC, VOB and Reddifusion. Big tunes like this spouge one:
wha ya gonna gi me fa Christmas I need something from you
give me something for Christmas boy and I'll give you something too
and this one in parang
Hurray hurray hurrah!
Hurrah hurrah dey say!
Our savior was born today
It was through his light
While a shepherds (plight)??
for they just couldn’t believe dere eyes
And when he come a man
Ya kno dem non-christian, get tagetha an pound nails in he hand
And on the third day he rose again
So ya see he shed his blood fa we!
You just couldn't resist the Christmas fever with sweet music like that. It definitely put you in the proper frame of mind for the season. It was an eccletic mix, reggae, soca, gospel, parang, spouge, r n b every music under the sun. From Felic Navidad (Prospero ano y Felicidad) to Good King Wensalas. Big tune dat! Merrymen, Draytons Two, Singing Francine, Nat King Cole, Crazy, Michael Jackson, Jacob Killa Milla artists of all genres. Music coming from every radio in the neighborhood, transistor, radiogram, stereo, every store speaker downtown, everywhere. Just total immersion in Christmas music.
Around neighborhood in Barbados everybody was busy painting both the inside and outside of their house and putting up new curtains, making the place look pretty, pretty, pretty just trying to get things looking special for that one day. Moving the furniture around and choosing some nice bright colors for the inside and outside walls. All like now, I would have paint in my hair, on my hands, on my skin and be trying to use the turpentine to wipe it off but just ending up with my skin looking dry and ashy and smelling of turpentine. Boy I do so much painting as a yout helping my father that I was a painting pro before I reach 12.
Verandas and outside walls being painted in bright colors as everyone tries to out do their neighbor in the painting arena. If one man gone yellow another one gone blue or green with brown trim or cream with aqua marine trim or something so. Every color under the sun and everybody turn superstar painter like dem middle name is Picasso.
Santa Clause, do you ever come to the ghetto (ghettoe-oo!)
Santa Clause, do you ever wonder why we suffer so
Santa Clause, When will you come to the ghetto (ghettoe-oo!)
Santa Clause, we would love to see how those reindeers go.
We aint gonna fuss,
We aint gonna fight,
But where are the presents that you brought for us.
The curtains made from fabric that you bought down by Swan Street or Kirpilani or from Miss Ram or that you 'truss' from the "coolie man" in the Suzuki van (that rhymes) who would then have hell to get certain folks to pay. When January came, anytime there was a knock on the door or window you would see certain houses get real real quiet instantaneously and their inhabitants peeping from behind the said same curtains they "truss" to see if it was the coolie man coming for his money.
Sorry boss, all the money dash way on Christmas and they cant afford to pay even a little installment. So Coolie man standing up in the hot sun with the van motor running, looking screw screw and every passerby he asking 'wait you see mistress so n so dat live hayso? You know wha part she gone?" And everybody just responding in the negative cause them know too well that Miss so n so hiding behind the curtains but they wont say so cause well when is them turn to truss from the coolie man they going do the said same thing. So poor coolie man can only stand and knock and get agitated and then go along about his business and check back the next week when the whole scenario played out one more time.
But don't feel too bad for him ya kno! Yes boy fa now they had the coolie man fooled but in the long run they still paid him and he still made his nice lil profit so that by next year no more Suzuki van but he had a little small store in Swan Street all bought and paid for from those little ends of cloth he had sold that Christmas. Cause you could only run from the coolie man so long before ya had to pay him because people would get 'fraid that he put the steel donkey pun them doah!
And lets not talk about the curtain fabric. All sort of designs, all sort of bright pretty pretty cloth which the women would sit with at night in the weeks before Christmas and slowly turn into curtains for the windows and doors. They either worked by hand, with a needle and thimble, getting the youngsters with sharper eyesight to thread the needle as the night got darker or using one of those old time clunky heavy duty Springer sewing machines. Is serious iron them things made out of boy! Solid solid solid and well made to last a lifetime.
Of course in making the curtain they had to match the colors of the house or sometimes the house colors would be chosen after the curtain colors. I aint sure which one led and which followed but you couldn't have a new paint job without new matching curtains cause that would look like ya aint got no style or no money and no one wanted anyone to believe either one of those.
Even if the curtains were finished a week or two before Christmas you would wait till Christmas eve or a day or two before Christmas to get up on the chair and put them up. So Christmas eve all you would hear is the rapping of hammers hitting nail heads, pounding out a distinctive Christmas melody as those new curtains went up at every house. It was a Christmas tradition cause those curtains had to look bright and new for the Christmas morning.
Would you like to join your sonnie
I am over here happy in this cold cold country
Darling for this Christmas
I hope everything is happy
come and join the chorus cause we will be having a party
Meanwhile the fruit for the Great Cake was steeping in rum, brandy, and wine since long time gone in September or even before that. Cherries, Raisins, Currents, mixed peel, that you had to help grind up in one of those old fashion hand mixers with the handle that you turned, all seeping up the alcohol. I tell ya, If ya eat two pieces of that cake when it dun, ya best not be driving anywhere lest the policeman ketch ya..............Matter a fact ya eat two pieces of that cake ya gine sleep cause that thing potent after all the fruit absorb all that liquor.
Dem church sisters may not touch a drop of alcohol but give them pieca great cake and I guarantee that their blood alcohol level on par with the fella that been hitting the bottle up by the corner rum shop since morning. This cake serious ya know! If it was North America a yout would have to show ID to get pieca cake.
And that cake taste real nice. Almost as nice as the ham when you cut off three slice and eat wid two sodabix or put it in a fresh salt bread and add a lil pepper sauce. Something bout a Christmas hamcutter that just taste better than any other sandwich in the world back then.
Everything nice, nice and in abundance. Nice n Nuff!
Sing we Noel, Calypso Noel
Sing we Noel, sing sing sing sing
Sing we Noel, calypso Noel
sing we Noel sing
A few days before Christmas my mom would give me a whole heap of green peas to shell. See me sitting at the dining room table feet dangling, bag of peas bigger than young Jdid. On one side two big bags full of pea husks, worms and and the occasional pea chink, the discards from the process and on the other side about a half a tray of fresh green peas. It would take a good hour or two to finish all that shelling even when I wasn't taking regular breaks to play with the big fat cream colored or green worms that came out of some of the pea shells. By the time I was finished the job after my mother had warned me about 6 times not to eat my handiwork my hands would smell of peas and chinks and my finger nails would be all green but there was enough peas in the tray to make our Christmas peas and rice dish cause Christmas in Barbados just wasn't Christmas without rice and peas using fresh green peas.
Yea true you could go down Cheapside market and get a few pints of already shelled green peas but it was so much cheaper to just get me to do all the hard work especially since we had two pea trees in the back yard.
Church bells ring a ling
Angels sing a ling
Happy Birthday Jesus
Snowflakes ding a ling
Sleighbells jing a ling
Happy Birthday Jesus
All year long we wait
just to celebrate this Christmas morn
Anyway about a day or two before Christmas suddenly ya nostrils perk up like when the dog smell his dinner on the way. I talking bout them pot starvers (mongrels) we used to own dat was real dogs not these poor great North American pretenders that cant even chew two chicken bones without getting sick. Is Kibbles and Bits fa them if ya please! No leftovers! Wha up ta last week I was telling the wife dat back when I was growing up we din need no recycling green bin for leftovers, we had a natural recycling device. He did name Rover or Spot or Blackie or Brownie or sometimes he was just de Dog. But nowadays dogs get posh and only eating brand name, store bought food. What a ting! Chupse!
Anyway I digress. Selector bring back some music to set the mood.
I've got that old feeling
that seems to fill the air
Its Christmas in my Caribbean land
and though there's no snow or sleigh bells to be heard
this feelings oh so grand!
now soon the bells will be ringing
choirs singing in good cheer
and old forgotten friends are brought to mind
oh tell me of this feeling
why cant this Christmas feeling exist amongst all people through the year (oh yea!)
I going wake up real merry
bake me jug and me turkey........
Not much Christmas lights when I was growing up. Too expensive to buy plus electricity was also expensive. Just one or two houses did the big light extravaganza that we have today. Instead to make the place look presentable ya would sweep up the front yard after ya finish paint, dig up the grass (none of that lawn business) maybe put down some marl or small stone out front and combined with the poinsettia and the snow on the mountain flowers blooming the place would still be looking real colorful still.
Now as I was saying before I digressed about two nights before Christmas your nostrils would light up from the scents wafting in over the breeze. It started the first night with sweet bread, Great cake and pudding and continued into the second night with the meats; delicious ham, succulent pork, turkey, chicken with the gizzards as stuffing. Heavenly scents! Everyone in the neighborhood baking at the same time and had started a day or two before Christmas because the ovens are small and ya baking enough to feed two armies so it took some time to get the job done.
Why we baking so much? You play you aint know that when Christmas day and bank holiday come round people gine be visiting and you have to have food to serve them. How it gine look bright Christmas somebody stop by and you cant even offer them two slices of sweet bread or pudding or if they is a good friend a slice of great cake. And all ya hearing;
So Santa Clause is in town
He comes but once a year
So ya vex because he came around
To visit me my dear
But Maizie in all in this heat
Wine up under the Christmas tree
Maizie I am vex because
ya making movements wid Santa clause
Maizie where is the Reindeer
Maizie I aint see no sleigh
If he have no reindeer no sleigh?
He came on BWIA
And of course as a child you don't want regular dinner those days when you start smelling those scents because you're hoping for a first slice of cake or meat that night and you staying up late dreaming of hot sweet bread. You eyes light up when the first sweet bread or piece of meat emerged from the oven and you might try to sneak off a lil taste when your mother wasn't looking but you had to be careful that she aint catch you and pelt some liks in your backside cause you know full well that the food is for Christmas and afterwards and the baking being done is as much for the guests as for the family.
Ah yes dreams of sweet bread and great cake washed down with a cold soft drink from the 2 or 3 cases that got bought from the drinks truck when it was up the street earlier that week by the village shop. A few weeks before ya had to go out in the yard, collect up all the empty drinks bottles to make sure you had a full case. Then wash out all the insects and cobwebs from those bottles cause you couldn't go and give the drinks man no nasty bottles ya kno! It wun look propa!
Then you had to make sure you knew what day the drinks trucks came to the village shop. The Banks truck came on Tuesday and the Ju-C truck Thursday so all Tuesday and Thursday ya trying ta keep a look out for the truck or if ya smart and ya on good terms with the shopkeeper (Meaning ya aint owe him no money) ya tell the shopkeeper ta give ya a call when the truck reach. Tiger Malt and Plus, Sprite, Ju-C, Bim and Frutee in all sorts of flavors from Red (Kola Champagne) to Yellow (Pineapple) and Banana and even Sorrel Flavored although the sorrel flavored ones aint taste as sweet as the real thing. You would tell the drinks man to mek sure he doan gi ya nuh stale drinks either cause if you open a drink and it flat ya gine be real vex. But those drinks had to last into January so you couldn't start drinking too early although if nobody looking you might sneak way one and even sneak a lil Falurnum in the drink to spice it up. :-)
But ya din have ta do dat too often cause first ya frighten ya get ketch and secondly ya had sorrel.
Another task for me as a youngster was to get the fresh sorrel and cut off the fruit (is fruit or is leaves?) from the seed so that it could be dried and prepared into that delicious Christmas drink. Another tedious task where the discarded portions, the big seed in the sorrel fruit, were more than the actual usable pieces, the petals which were steeped in hot water to prepare the delicious potion, and this time there were no fun worms to play with like with the peas. But the ends justified the means because the sorrel drink with a stick of clove in it was the most refreshing thing Christmas offered me as a youngster (except for the mix up sweet drink/beer/falurnum concoction that my dad did every Christmas which would knock me out for hours after Christmas dinner).
Drink a rum an a punch a crema
Drink a rum
Is Christmas morning
Drink a rum and a punch a crema
mama drink if ya drinkin
Christmas eve night everything in full gear. The cakes mostly done bake unless ya run outta gas and you weren't smart enuff to have a spare bottle in the house. I mean you know is nuff nuff baking to do so ya shoulda been prepared. Don't blame me looka try and run down by the gas station and buy a new bottle...if all aint sell out yet.
Its all the scent of meat baking that you sniffing in the air. And the sky bright with stars and outside chilly, by West Indian standards, but you still pushing ya nose through the jalousie (jealousie) window or sitting down on the step with the rest of kids indulging the sense of smell and being overcome by that feeling of Christmas. "boy you Mrs Browne like she baking a nice peica pork cross deyso." "You smell that ham that Miss Clarke baking? you that thing smell so good it got my mout watering real bad then!" "Ha ha, you smell dat? Wuhloss somebody sweet breads like dem burning." "Chupse dat cud only be Mavis wun cause you know she cann cook, wha even she husband say so."
The air smelling sweet, the stars looking brighter, the air just feeling sort of tingly on ya body. You can taste the excitement or is that smell it.
You cant wait for the Christmas morning.
One Christmas eve casually I was walking down the street
One Christmas eve casually I was walking down the street
I was attracted by the voice of a lil boy
as he strolled along the street no shoes on his feet
as he walked he continued to repeat
Listen Mama I want you to tell Santa Clause
To bring a trumpet and a concertina for me
I'm so lonely and have no children close by me
ma you don't kno how happy your son would be
Merry Christmas everyone.