“Christmas a come” we used to say. It was the season that got everyone excited. We’d start talking about whether or not we’ll put up a Christmas tree and lights; what we’d cook for Christmas; which aunt made the best sweet potato pudding and; how long the sorrel has to sit.
These were important conversations in Jamaica this time of year. But we’re hearing less and less of such talk nowadays. Our attention seems to be elsewhere. Every year, Jamaica gets less and less Christmassy. Fewer people show up for church on Christmas day. Some don’t even bother to decorate their homes; others treat it like any other day. A few are just happy for the time off so they can rest from work or school, or engage in their passion.
Most of us enjoy the cool weather, the TV specials, the shopping, and we are happy to see family we haven’t seen in years. Some people take particular joy in watching Jamaicans abroad awkwardly express their Christmas greetings on television.
But outside of that we can ask: what else is there to get the average Jamaican excited at Christmas time? For many, the answer is nothing. Why?
Well, there is a general feeling that Christmas has lost its charm. What was once a family and a charity-oriented season is now a marketing gimmick that wrecks our household budget, sometimes for the entire next year. Instead of images of church and family dinners, retailers bombard consumers with too-good to be true deals and dream purchases available at “low, low prices!” For those without much, this creates stress, anxiety and even depression that spoil the Christmas season.
There is even a loss of reverence for the holiday. The former holy day has been repurposed as a theme for parties and events that are twice as expensive as the rest of the year.
In this new Christmas, there is little emphasis on actual joy. Instead, it is more about accumulation. What should be a break has become a mad dash for the last scraps. And if that isn’t enough to turn you off, the long lines, horrible traffic and dense crowds laden with pickpockets are likely to foul your holiday spirit.
Largely, Christmas has just become another expense just when our hearts have become inextricably linked to our pockets.