“We shall always treasure the wonderful times shared with amazing people.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita, Beautiful Quotes
Some thirty years later, I still revisit those times every time the new year rolled around. The warm memories tinged with tragedy, death, broken relationships. The only time we didn’t celebrate was the year Grannie died. She died the weekend we always got together. A totally different reason for everyone getting together.
My dad’s eldest sister hosted the family celebration every year to which immediate family, extended family, close friends and their kids were invited. We lived about an hour away and would be so excited to see everyone that we would awake and be dressed (extra play clothes packed) before our parents, and they awoke with the roosters:-)
We would arrive to screams of joy, hugs, and my aunt’s house overflowing with people and the mouth watering scents of smoked ham, fried fish, stewed pork, baked chicken. A quick change of clothes and we were off to explore the huge yard, too young to be solicited for the kitchen duty. We would all be back right before the late lunch hands washed, to place utensils in napkins, fancy plates for everyone except the littlest ones who got plastic plates, glasses for the grown ups for beverages and brightly colored plastic cups for us non-grown ups which we used to make a punch mixture out of the six or seven home made juices.
Endless games of hide and seek, lime and spoon, sack race and Dutch ball were enjoyed. Those who arrived later joined in and we even learned some newer games. In later years, girls would go off on their own after quick hellos to the boys. Usually around 3 pm, we were ready to eat by then – starving is more the word – we were called in.
Grace was said then it was time to eat. I loved the auntie’s home made Mac & Cheese, my dad made Breadfruit Balls often stuffed with Saltfish (a local dish he knew I loved), Greenfig Pie, Red beans, Fruit Salad, Ham and Hot Cross buns using my grandma’s recipe. So much food, so much fun. It took me quite a while to eat but hey, that was the plan.
Whenever I visit my island, my aunt still likes to duplicate that experience but on a much smaller scale and as we sit and reminisce I am instantly taken back to those days and the ones who are gone.