B.C.’s BARBADOS: David’s Garage
AN ERRAND took me – well, my wife, really, but I was her driver – to Brown Sugar restaurant in Aquatic Gap on Christmas Adam afternoon. (You know Christmas Adam, yes? It fell last Thursday, December 23rd. It’s a Trini expression. It recognizes that, in the Middle Eastern creation myth, Adam came into being the day before Eve; so, if the day before Christmas is Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas Eve must be Christmas Adam.)
If you know it – and if you’ve found yourself reeling from one rum punch or sighing with pleasure from spiced fish, you know it – Brown Sugar’s doorsteps lie right at the end of a short cul de sac shared by two or three other buildings. I dropped my wife at the restaurant’s steps and turned into the driveway before it, to turn around, an easy manoeuvre because all seven or eight parking spaces, including one with it’s own roof, were empty.
The building, I recalled, housed lawyers’ chambers – and then I remembered it’s most famous tenant: the late Prime Minister David Thompson, would have been head of chambers here, I thought (though someone else might well have been, particularly since he would have been in Parliament for most of his professional life). I looked at the covered space again and thought: David’s garage; and then I thought of Jesus’ manger.
And see me, now, in an empty lawyers’ car park next door to a restaurant on Christmas Adam, thinking of the column I’d write and send on Christmas Eve, so that whoever was at The Nation yesterday, away from their families, working on Boxing Day, so that you could have, today, the paper you hold in your hand (or content you click on with your mouse) – could have at least one thing done since Christmas Eve (assuming, i.e., no rum punch).
Christmas means nothing to me, religiously. Jesus was a nice guy, no doubt, and I want to believe we’d have got on well (though we’d have fallen out swiftly if he’d started telling me anything about his suffering being for my sake; I don’t buy that even from my wife and, if I’m not taking crap from my wife, believe me, I’m not taking it from anyone; no matter who their father is).
But Christmas means everything to me, family-wise (Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, is also lovely; and, a little bit, the bacon-less Muslim Eid). Christmas is the West Indian Thanksgiving, the religious festival all believers and agnostics and some atheists can celebrate, the best time of year to be with one another, to see the delight in the face of a loved one, and know you chose the right gift.
David Thompson was four years younger than me and he’s gone. His family, and the millions of people like them who lost loved ones this year, spent a different Christmas from yours and mine. It’s a sobering thought; especially if you don’t think there’s an afterlife, that all you get is this one shot to get it as close to right as you can. So there I sat, in the lawyers’ car park, on Christmas Adam, looking at David’s garage; and hoping that, this Christmas, I would raise my voice only to sing, “O Christmas Tree”.
• BC Pires is thinking of his present Christmas, not his Christmas presents.