December 21, 2011 issue

Arts & Entertainment

'Guyana Boy' longs for Christmases
of long ago

Bernard Heydorn

It's a few days away from Christmas – the first Christmas that my wife and I will spend on South Padre Island in Texas. Today is our 40th wedding anniversary – a wedding that took place on the island of Barbados.
Christmas is a family affair but our children are all grown and have flown the coop years ago. One lives in Portugal, another in Richmond, Virginia, and the third in Ontario, Canada. Our family here is our two dogs and a brother and his family who, like us, are wintering on the island. The influx of snowbirds to this neck of the woods continues to increase.

Christmas in Guyana and the Caribbean is now a distant dream for me. Time flies and my eyes are getting cloudy. Many of us are growing frail and tired and some are "checking out" ever so often. It's only a matter of time before we all go to the great round up in the sky. Time is not on our side.

Christmas with all its commercial overtones has been a turn- off for me for a number of years. This year I decided that I will not be sharing Christmas presents with anyone – family, friends or others. Our kids were disappointed but they understand the logic. I have presents from years gone by that I have not opened or put to use. I know that it looks like me being a scrooge but there is an old adage "waste not, want not". There are reports that the majority of seniors and others in North America are facing want, not to mention the effect of waste on the environment.
I am saddened by the sickness, death and tragedy among family, friends and the world at large. Just recently in Mississauga, Canada, a niece of mine and her family suffered a devastating fire that destroyed their family home and all their belongings! Their two family pets – a cat and a dog were also consumed in the fire. Ironically, the fire reportedly started with a connection to the Christmas tree. That family will be affected by this tragedy for the rest of their lives.
Soldiers are returning from war for Christmas. Some will never return. Young men and women have laid down their lives a world away and as a War Memorial in Gaspé, Quebec states "they poured out the red, sweet wine of youth, giving up the years to be of work and joy and that unhoped serene that men call age".
Those returning are welcomed home but they are never the same and their families are never the same. Many remain wounded in spirit if not in body. I pray for all these wounded souls.
I am saddened that Christ is being taken out of Christmas even though His name is imbedded in the word Christmas. Christmas celebration and practices are being looked down upon or even curtailed in some places. The spirituality and joy of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem seems to be lost in the modern world.
My list of correspondents for Christmas cards and greetings is getting shorter. This all sounds like a litany of negative thoughts and feelings but not really. I am beginning to gain that inner peace that age brings, the realization that the innings will soon be over and time at the crease limited.
It's time to think of beyond Christmas and what the New Year may hold in store. We have our grandchildren to take over from us and the seasons will continue. The sun will rise and fall on this beautiful but flawed world. The words of Jesus will continue to resonate with some if not with everyone. Men and women of goodwill will pass on the message of Christmas long after we are gone and forgotten.
My pen has dried up so it must be time for me to close. May the message and blessings of Christmas come your way. This is Guyana boy signing off for 2011. If the creeks don't rise and the sun still shines I'll be talking to you in the New Year.

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