Sunday December 23, 2012
From the Diaspora ...
IT’S CHRISTMAS, DON’T FORGET THE ORPHANS By Ralph Seeram Religion aside, Christmas is for children. Now we adults have hijacked it from them, and the business community has commercialized it. Today, Christmas is celebrated universally; it has cut across cultural and religious barriers, along the way the Christ in Christmas has been lost. Christians and some non Christians will be attending church tomorrow night or in some cases Christmas day. For some it will be an annual visit to church as if the church does not exist during the year. Christmas service finds church pews filled to capacity and overflowing. At my church for the Christmas Eve service the family has to go at least fortyfive minutes early in order for the family to be seated together. The turnout for Christmas service is only rivaled by Easter Sunday service. Like I said, Christmas was for kids. Children look forward to Christmas; it’s one of those rare occasions where parents get the upper hand with the young ones “you better be good, or Santa will not bring you a gift.
Did I say a gift? Well there was a time when it was only one gift; at least for my generation that was the expectation. It was not an adult event. Adults may recall their childhood days wondering what the mysterious gift under the tree was, and by the way, Christmas tree for us was a “black sage tree”. We adults think the gifts we r e a m y s t e r y t o t h e children, but the kids were smarter than us. My daughter recently confessed that they always opened the gifts to see what they were and carefully wrapped them back, then pretended they were so anxious to open them on Xmas morning. To d a y f o r t h e m o r e fortunate kids, its multiple gifts; these days the gifts have gravitated to expensive electronics gadgets, like IPods, WiFi a n d s o f o r t h . To y manufacturers ensure that kids know of these expensive gadgets through advertising on children’s programmes. For adults, Christmas has become an expensive event. It is gifts for your
immediate relative, extended relatives, friends, neighbours, not to forget coworkers. This year here in the Diaspora I noticed a pull back from the extravagance, maybe it’s the economy. One indication is the lack of Xmas parties this year. There was a time when at least two weekends before Christmas, I had to prioritize whose party I was going to. You attend parties at three or four homes in one night. Believe it or not, it is a few days to Xmas and I have not attended any party. I rather suspect that quite a few Guyanese would be disappointed at not receiving monetary gifts from their friends and relatives here in the U S. Some may see a reduction in gifts; this of course has to do with the economy here in the United States. In our family, we have cut down on the gifts within the family, preferring to send the bulk of money to relatives in Guyana. In fact the largest financial gifts go to Guyana. This brings me to another topic, and that is children in orphanages in Guyana. I have been reading of visits and donations made to
various orphanages in Guyana, by politicians and companies. You only hear about orphanages at Xmas time. The children are there year round; it would be nice to bring cheer to these kids every day of the year. Remember, most of them don’t have parents or were abused by them, they need love year round. Go to these children and try to be a mentor for a child, these children not only need love but they have a lot of love to give also. I wrote last year about companies spending so much money on sports and sponsoring events, but do very little for the most needy and most vulnerable in the Guyanese society—the orphans. I don’t want to name names but these companies know who they are. Their names are always in the sports section of newspapers. I would ask the executives of these companies to make it a civic duty to visit orphanages and inquire of their needs. Last year on a visit to one prominent orphanage in Georgetown to assist in a donation of some equipment, I was shocked to find the toddlers crawling
around on hard wood flooring in their play room. There were no play mats, there were no walkers for the infants, simple things that corporate Guyana can fulfill, but go unnoticed. The business community in Guyana needs to step up and pay more attention to these helpless kids; it’s not only a government responsibility, its society’s responsibility. Nearer to home, it going to be a special Christmas in the Seeram family. We have a lot to be thankful for. There was the addition of our first granddaughter, Abigail, who would be nearly three months old. So there will be an extra stocking hanging and another gift under the Xmas tree, not that she will know anything about that. It’s just we adults satisfying our self. My three-year-old grandson has already put in his request; he wants a bicycle, not to mention that he has two tricycles in my garage. He wants a “big boy bike”. Unknown to him I have already bought him a two wheel bike with training wheels.
He will soon learn what a “big boy bike” really is when I take off the training wheels. I have already ensured he has his helmet, knee and elbow pads. After all you can’t learn to ride a two-wheel bike without falling a few times. Our Christmas meals will still be Guyanese style— the usual garlic pork, pepperpot and black cake to name a few. Most Guyanese, and for that matter West Indians in the Diaspora, have not lost their tradition, when it comes to Christmas, as evident from the purchases at the Caribbean food stores. This reminds me that as soon as I finished this article I have to go purchase my cow heel and oxtail early to beat the crowd. So for my friends and relatives in Guyana, Mara. Gregory, Adam and Errol, Claire and the rest in Crabwood Creek, have very merry Christmas, have a drink for me. Adam you can eat some pepperpot for me, since you know I don’t drink. To all my readers happy holidays to you all, Merry Christmas. Ralph Seeram can be reached at email email@example.com