I was never a big fan of Christmas. I celebrated the reason for the season being a Roman Catholic and the birth of Christ was significant in my calendar but somehow I was never "into the Christmas spirit".
As a child everything seemed to go wrong around Christmas time. I guess I was sold on the movie-prescribed "perfect Christmas" and when I didn't get "perfect" (hmmm like the gift I asked Santa for) I became the Gringe or Scrooge. After a while as I got older I decided that the Yuletide season was too materialistic and I celebrated a more subdued and quiet Christmas, reflecting and giving thanks but yet still not having a true Trini Christmas extravaganza. So that meant no Christmas tree, no lights, no Santa, minimal gift giving and no Christmas food.
This year I am a changed person. I am a Christmas convert. My daughter Amaris has unleashed the ghost of Christmas in me and as unexpected as it was, I fell for the bait. Last year she was just one year old merely recognising that the December month was different to other months. Her senses were piqued by the music, the lights and the festivities but she didn't know it was Christmas. This year it's different. "Mama, look Santa!" she says when she sees the gray haired man in the red suit. From the TV commercials, to the malls, to people's Christmas decorations, he seems to be everywhere and every time Amaris casts her eyes on him she has to say with a blush and broad smile, "Look Santa!" So I had to indulge my curious two-year-old and I bought a dancing Santa. Now she dances like him to all music even soca! And of course her tributes also go out to snowmen (God forbid we will never have snow in T&T if she only knew) so much so she saw a chubby Caucasian man with a hat and she pointed and shouted, "Snowman!"
In Trinidad and Tobago, Christmas is not Christmas without lighting-up competitions. Everybody wants to outdo everybody with bright blinking lights and elaborate decorations. Indeed Amaris is fascinated by the colourful display especially when the accessories adorn "Amaris' Christmas Tree" (she apparently believes that she is the custodian of Christmas trees). And soon I succumbed once more and bought a Christmas tree with lights..Ba humbug! It's amazing, how at her age she is so in tune with Christmas. "Mama how come Jesus is a baby?" or "Dada look Mary and a cow and a donkey and a sheep!" or "Santa giving me a toy Mama, dada has to get it!" — the questions and the comments are endless as she tries to understand what major event is happening in her country and by all means she is ensuring that it happens in her home as well.
A friend of mine once said, "You don't have to give children under three years old Christmas presents because they will not remember or be aware!" I have proven my friend wrong. Amaris expects a wrapped box hopefully containing any toy (at her age it doesn't matter) every time she sees a real life Santa. Opening presents is fast becoming her hobby and strange but true gift boxes are becoming more appealing than the toys inside once the boxes have been opened. I must also mention the many variations to the Christmas carols like "We wish you a many Christmas" and a remix between "Jingle Bells" and the nursery rhyme "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". I can go on and on about her many Christmas antics and discoveries but the long and short of this Christmas story which can very well be a Scrooge or Gringe tale is that my excited two-year-old has softened my heart and unearthed my latent Christmas spirit. She encourages me to celebrate, to enjoy and derive fun out a season which never appealed to me. She makes me want to give more around Christmas and share her cheer with others. While this Christmas my wallet (actually my husband's wallet) may be lighter and my house can soon enter the lighting up contest (it's a work in progress), my husband and I must admit that Christmas means so much more this year compared to previous years. As for my indifference to the fuss and the festivities of the season, I think that I am soon becoming a fan, a fan who won't omit the "Christ" out of Christmas but at the same one who can lighten up with the lights and have a bit of childish Yuletide fun thanks to Amaris!