And so this is Christmas. The shopping days are over,
the turkey is in the oven, the gifts have been sprung from
their shiny paper, and theres nothing left to do
but soak in the silence of the moment when hopefully someone
will realise the purpose of this momentous day.
When you think about it, Christmas is simply a day to celebrate the
birth of a baby and the hope that baby brought to the world. Every
baby brings hope to the world, and so we can all relate to
Christmas on that level.
For Christians it is a very special baby, the son of God.
For non-Christians it is simply a baby, a prophet perhaps.
But a baby is a miracle in itself, a blank slate in which
life is about to etch its meaning.
All holy days that we celebrate as holidaysChristmas,
Divali, Eidhave an unmistakable sense of spirituality
and that, too, binds us together on each others holy
But holy days provide more than hope and faith and legends
that sustain us in hard times. They provide a sense of tradition.
By observing this dayeven if it is from a distance as
a non-Christian who simply basks in the glory of a day off
from workwe participate, vicariously as it might be,
in a 2006-year-old tradition.
Religion aside, we build our own traditions around this day.
The food we eatpastelles and turkey and hamand
ginger beer and sorrel are all a part of our tradition. We
are experts at creating culinary traditions and observing
them as well.
Isnt that right, Lord Kitchener, who must be sitting
by a pan tuner in Heaven and looking down at those paranderos
who beat their bottles with a spoon and sing, Drink
a rum and a ponche a crema...
Yes, Moma, moma, your son is lonely in England and wants to
come back home to toast his great fortune at being from a
tropical island warm in spirit, warm at heart.
This, after all, is the land of celebrations and commemorations.
We glide from Eid and Divali to Christmas, New Years,
Carnival and Hosay. We carry many fine religious traditions
and we string them together through the year like great fields
of Divali lights or great strings of Christmas lights.
We do see the light in so many ways. Yes, we allow ourselves
to be bamboozled by sleazy politics, but we know deep in our
hearts it is wrong to divide us and take our traditions away
Sometimes we close our eyes to those traditions that sadly
vanish from our sight, but well get it right. Well
wake up one day and say enough is enough.
We are losing our national airline this year and though there
are those who might look forward to the new Caribbean Airlines,
there are many I am sure who, like me, think a humming-bird
could never replace a pan. There is sadness in the loss of
an airline that represented a 66-year-old tradition.
All around us traditions are being knocked down. Every
time another house representing a certain period of architectural
history is torn down, we suffer as a nation. We lose a piece
of history and in so doing we lose some tradition.
No nation can afford to lose its traditions. That is what
holidays like Christmas remind us of, and we should not lose
sight of that in the post-Christmas and New Years parties
where we are tempted to drown our memories in rum.
Yes, we have a long way to go so that we could stand on solid
ground and honour all our traditions as they should be honoured. But
we have much to celebrate this Christmas as well.
So far, we have been a nation in which religion brings us
together. We are not a nation that allows religion to divide
us and that makes us bigger and better than many large countries
of the world. We are experts in understanding the beauty and
dignity of religious tradition, and now we have to guard our
own cultural traditions with that type of religious fervour.
Carnival is around the corner and Government has seen fit
to take the Carnival stage in the Savannah from underneath
us and tell us, Be happy just to dance in the streets.
Were giving you something better. Were giving
you a new stage. The Savannah never was a part of the Carnival
But people perceive that Savannah stage as a part of Carnival
tradition. To demolish that stage without a twinge of understanding
about how to build on tradition is sacrilegious; it violates
the sacredness of a cultural tradition. If the people
feel it is tradition, then it is. Government cant
My Christmas wish is for all of us to place a greater value
on tradition in the coming year. Tradition is not something
you can put in a box and wrap in shiny paper and a fancy bow,
but it warms the heart more than the greatest present you
can think of in this world.
Tradition is what binds us together. It gives us a sense of
individuality and it gives us a sense of belonging to our
own immediate culture and it gives us a sense of belonging
to something bigger in this world.
Christmas starts in the heart and warms the caring, giving,
loving side of us.
It helps us to reach out to others and share our warmest feelings.
It connects us to a network of friends and family; then it
connects us to all those people in the world who share our
Were all different. No two countries celebrate Christmas
in the same way. We are special.
Merry Christmas, everyone.