• Today
    October 23

  • 03:35 PM

Christmas at Belle's house

Sherie Holder-Olutayo,

Added 24 December 2012


There are those who say that Christmas is really about children and Belle Holder couldn’t agree more. With her husband Stuart Hall, three-year-old daughter Sienna and eight-month-old Raiden, the holidays have increased personal meaning. “My daughter Sienna is three now so she’s way more aware of what’s going on,” says Belle. “Through her – because she’s really excited about the decoration – I’ve bought my first real tree; well, a seven-foot-tall artificial  tree. I thought the pine needles would be too much for Raiden because he’s creeping. “She’s the one who‘s made me enthusiastic about the decorative part of it. So Stuart and Sienna put up the tree and we have the entire patio surrounded with lights and she’s really excited about that.” If the excitement of a child is infectious, then Belle herself has caught the Christmas spirit. “My touch to the Christmas tree is that I like to put  [on] cards and family photos,” she revealed. “So any cards  I and photos, I put them up.” Belle, who spent most of her life in Vancouver, Canada, says her family used to put more emphasis on birthdays than Christmas in terms of gift-giving. “If there was something you really wanted all year long, chances are you got it for your birthday,” she said. “For Christmas it was more stocking stuffers you received. But then we would do new pyjamas on Christmas morning. Our big Christmas dinner would be on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas day you’d eat leftovers and spend the whole day just watching movies and enjoying the day.” But now that Belle is fully immersed in Barbadian culture after four years of marriage, she is adopting more homegrown traditions as she celebrates the holidays with her family. While she doesn’t plan on adopting the early morning Christmas service, she is still planning to make  the day special. “I’m more freaking out about décor. Like most Barbadian females, I do have that desire to have the house put together for Christmas,” she said. “Actually it’s because one of the major things that I wanted to do is done, and that’s complete my family – I had this written down, you know, that I wanted a daughter and a son. Now that’s completed, I can focus  on other things.” Decorating the house is big for her this year because it’s something she hasn’t really done before. Christmas provides the right opportunity to do that. “We got married, moved into the house and had babies right away, so now I feel it’s time to decorate,” Belle says. “I try to meet Stuart halfway because I know he doesn’t like shiny fabrics, so there’s lot of things that we haven’t done yet because we’re waiting till we agree on something. “But this is home. We’re not moving in two years; this is where the kids are going to grow up and where we’ll grow old rocking on the patio together, so I feel we need to put our stamp on it.” Belle also has her mother in from Canada, so there is that desire to make the holidays special for her as well. “I was trying to get the house put away before she arrived, but I knew that I would be killing myself. Stuart and Sienna took care of the tree,” Belle said. “There’s a part of the tree that has a cluster of balls because that’s where Sienna could reach, but it’s fine. I’m excited about where we’re going from here as a family and the new traditions we’re going to create together.” Perhaps it is the sense of completion and the desire to celebrate and create her own holiday traditions that are driving Belle this year. But she would be the first to tell you that she feels an enormous sense of gratitude for the blessing she’s been given, especially when she recalls the Christmases she spent  as a child. “I grew up in Chapman Lane and we always were excited about Christmas. I was raised by my grandmother, and we had chores to do like sweep the yard and take off the cushion covers. I hated putting back on cushion covers but that  was still part of it,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot. We didn’t have a Christmas tree until I was 18 and moved to Canada. We had a ceramic Christmas tree that was maybe a foot tall that my Dad had given us, and we used to pack any presents around that tree and you couldn’t  see it. But what my grandmother made sure we had  was each other.” What Belle’s grandmother did instill was the importance  of family and being together above all else. “I feel like my Christmas blessing are things that I can’t write a cheque for, things that I can’t pay for,” Belle says. “Sienna came when she wanted to come and Raiden, he had his own challenges with his pregnancy. He was a difficult pregnancy and then the chromosome blood test revealed that he had a one in seven chance of having Down Syndrome. I have a brother who is autistic so I know what the reality is of having a child with special needs. I’ve lived with it, because my brother is two years younger than me. I was scared, sad, disappointed and I cried first and then went into action. “My mom lives overseas and I told her I needed to come home. That happened on a Monday and I was in Vancouver on Thursday. The additional testing I got there told me that this baby had a one in 16 000 chance of Down Syndrome. They didn’t even know how to interpret the Barbados test. “So when I look at both my kids and my husband, I [say] Belle, you don’t need anything else.”


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Should the current age of retirement (67 years) be increased?