Christmas in Trinidad is my favorite time of year because it is the season for family. People are more relaxed by the combination of holiday music, gaiety, sharing, anticipation of work bonus and paid time off. That makes a nice start to a new year.
Some of my favorite family traditions are enjoying a meal and liming (hang out) with family, friends and neighbors, catching up or reminiscing and enjoying seasonal food, drinks and good music, and redecorating the house, buying new furniture and appliances, performing repairs and doing my part to get the new house concept.
Breakfast on Christmas morning was hearty and consisted of a hot beverage (coffee, tea or cocoa), juice, pastelles, sweet or butter bread served with ham, black pudding and chow chow (a relish) or ketchup and pepper sauce, my favorite condiments. Lunch was served a later in the afternoon and was a large meal. It was an array of flavorful foods; macaroni pie, pigeon peas, sliced sweet potatoes and plantains, stewed common fowls (home grown), a green salad, mayonnaise (potato salad) and Christmas rice accompanied by ginger beer and sorrel. Desert consisted of black rum or sponge (pound) cake and Ponche–de-Crème.
Christmas Day was the worst day to place phone calls. The circuits were busy with local and overseas relatives trying to contact one another to wish each other “compliments of the season”. Our house was always filled with people, good food and laughter, so Christmas, and the day after, Boxing Day were like a huge party with a steady stream of visitors and a constant supply of food.
Another facet of Christmas that I love is the Parang music. It is sung in Spanish and English by groups of men and women that take part in local competitions and go from house to house, not necessarily acquainted with the residents but would provide music and eat and drink the residents out of house and home.
(check out this link to taste some 2017 Parang music)
I also enjoy reviewing the cards received from family and friends and the call-in programs hosted by local media stations where relatives, including those residing overseas could call in and convey holiday greetings. As a child, some of my neighbors’ houses were in total disarray as they performed an annual cleaning, bought new furniture and appliances, changed curtains and seat cushions and made necessary repairs. My job was to paint the front steps, walkway and gate. This presented a challenge as it took place on the same evening that I collected the family’s allotment of Ponche de Crème from a friend. However, the dark green paint hid any defects save that on my clothes, before I went to bed, leaving other family members still cooking, sewing and completing the home makeover.