I was born and raised in an island in the Caribbean called Jamaica. There is a culture difference between Jamaicans and the rest of the world. The meaning of Christmas to Jamaicans, including myself, and the rest of the world might be different, but honestly I don’t really think it is. We are people and people are the same wherever we may go.
My mom has always been working abroad but she always ensured we wanted for nothing. She compensated for not being around by spoiling me, the youngest of five children. I remember getting a polyester pant suit and a platform shoes for Christmas as a little girl of six years.
My earliest memories of Christmas was being scared of what we know as Jonkonnu. I was never really interested in such festivities so never learned the real history or if I did, I certainly don’t remember. What I remember about Jonkonnu was that there were people in costumes, some on bamboo stilettos and looked ten feet tall. Many kids were scared because many of the costumes were scary as they wore masks.
The Jonkonnus would dance in the streets to the sound of the Jonkonnu music. I remember being scared but snow cones and cotton candies would soon alleviate those fears, but my mom was never there. I missed her and she missed me so we would write each other letters every week.
My Personal Belief
As I grew older I really realized what going to church was about so my perspective on Christmas changed. It wasn’t about scary people I didn’t know but about Christ, his birth and gift to the world. The meaning of this grew deeper as I learned the origin of Christmas and Boxing Day. Often we forget what Boxing Day is until it hits us in the face.
Christmas is not a celebration or about shopping and spending money on expensive clothes and presents. Christmas is a sacred observance or remembrance of the ONE who came into this world that we might be saved. If people wouldn’t think I’m crazy and put me in the loony bin, I would celebrate Christmas by wearing sackcloth and ashes. However, my friends and family would think I have gone totally insane, and given my history, who could blame them?
Christmas to me means a time, not necessarily a day but more like the entire season, of giving back or returning the blessings that have been afforded to me. I write about gifts and stuff but without God’s only begotten son none of that means anything. You can’t give him a literal present so you help someone in need.
When you make dinner for your family invite a stranger that may not otherwise have a meal or family to share with.
My most memorable Christmases were when I have invited my neighbors who no one else would have in their homes because they are not so 100% sane. People fear them and scorn them but remember that you never know when Jesus will appear as one of these. To every person like this you help, HE said, you have helped him.
For one year I was a cook in a very wealthy home. I was raised upper-middle suburb (note: I hate being classed but just for reference), but these people were rotten rich as we like to say. There were a bunch of people over every weekend and she would ask me to make the most elaborate meals. What I came to realize is that when a group of lesser status came over the meal was not as elaborate as when the upper-crust came.
On one occasion, the lychee tree was overladen and we had so much in the kitchen. One of the ladies who worked as a painter asked me for a few bunches. When my boss found out I gave away a couple bunches which were like two stalks, she threw a fit yet she was only giving the fruit away to people in her own financial class. It was amazing to me that she refused to give the people who could not afford to buy (lychee being very expensive) but she gave them away to her upper class friends. The point I am trying to make is that: What sense does it make giving to someone who does not need, while the ones in need suffer. Why give the best to the one who can afford it and the crap to those who can’t? It doesn’t make sense to me.
If you had a best friend who was financially okay and a neighbor who had kids in need. Would you spent the last dollar on presents for your friend’s kids or for your neighbor’s. I know it’s easy to answer while reading but when it comes to the real test when it does happen, what will your actions be?
Christmas is about the love you show to others the way Christ showed and is still showing his love to us. I love presents but I don’t always get or can give one, but I always try to at least give someone dinner during the season. It’s not all the time the food is plenty or elaborate but I am sure they will be grateful.
For Christmas this year, pledge to feed one hungry soul. Get a plastic or take out container. I know it seems like scorning but you must still be careful of diseases. When you are finished preparing dinner, put a meal in that container and take the family out for a drive. The first homeless you see give it to them. If you want you can pre-plan this with the family and choose the person you want t help this Christmas.
Remember giving is better than receiving, so remember to give something this Christmas. Have a blessed season!