Remembering to help others

We can no longer simply get in our cars and drive them. We must daily select our pathways and be sure that they lead to the highest ground.

For this week’s column, I had intended to slot in the roasting of Selwyn Hart — a Barbadian UN diplomat who will be returning to Barbados after working about 15 years at the consulate and United Nations. It was a natural sequel to the toasting of Junior Perry and could be perceived as a Christmas gift for the Caribbean Development Bank where he will work. I had quotes and pictures.

I was ready to write, and, then amidst the coverage of the Sandy Hook Newton tragedy, the picture of the child with two missing front teeth, and, a smile broader than Santa with a sleigh full gifts made me stop and recall the song: “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, see my two front teeth.” And as I reread the lyrics this line jumped out at me: “Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth, then I could wish you Merry Christmas.”

Did the song writer want to convey the picture that without teeth one was likely to keep one’s mouth closed and therefore unable offer a Christmas greeting?

I don’t think so. What was clear was that some condition was intended and the writer is not alone in this regard? How often have you heard this sequence: If I had money, I would buy a house and then I would be happy? Or that will be hard because we have no natural resources.

That sequence is not only mythical but is the opposite to the creating process.

Whatever was the writer’s intention, the tragedy of Newtown is another event that confirms that times have changed and we are moving into an era of life’s uncertainty where the only constant is change.

We will never know what those who were killed wanted for Christmas, and we may never know their hopes and dreams. Given the national discussion, I can surely ask: Why is it that we seem to need pain of a tragedy to jolt us into helping those who were in need all the time?

For this reason alone, Christmas is as good a time as any to remind ourselves that we should not allow the hustle and bustle of the material world to distract us from building relationships and assisting wherever we can.

Furthermore, we need to be proactive and not wait for disruptions like Hurricane Sandy to start putting things in place.

The now defunct Sons and Daughters of Barbados WI Benevolent Society Inc included helping members in time of need as part of its mission. Though also a social organisation, it was a fraternity that never waited for the storm to buy storm windows.

Unfortunately, a call to revive the organisation has fallen on deaf ears. And even though there are several active Barbadian organisations in the Diaspora that make a significant contribution to this community and Barbados, as far as I am aware there is no deliberate nest egg that would enable a proactive response to tragedy or pain.

Even in good times this is the period of the year when I truly miss Barbados, even though we are able to replicate many of the things that one would do if one were home.

On Saturday I went to a dance musical called Spell Bound that featured the birth of Jesus and got my first taste of black cake for the season. Then on Sunday, my James Street Sunday School classmate, Dalton Bostic, had his family get together a week early and will be off to Portland to spend Christmas with his sister.

On Sunday, our church will put on a Christmas show, Broadway style, and I will be at church again on Christmas Eve.

As many Barbadian do, Christmas will again be a family affair. Since, I can’t get to Queen’s Park to hear the police band, I will listen to carols on television until I can get to see the Police Band on YouTube, sometime later.

I still start Christmas day with hot chocolate, a ham cutter (with hot sauce) and coconut bread.

What is big for me is that tasks are still assigned. And while there are no peas to shell, no pig to kill, no cherry tree to be painted white, no house to paint, or gravel to put down, cooking meals from scratch and opening gifts together would surely bring a smile to my grandmother who was the enduring matriarch of our family.

Then, I am reminded of commercial side of America — four basketball games on Christmas Day and then the sales.

I shall remember Newtown and hold all those who suffered in my prayers this Christmas. But as I said, in today’s world we need be our brother’s keeper like ole time days in Barbados and elsewhere.


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