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Going house-to-house dis Christmas


Is no Season like Christmas. Some people say dey still get de feelings of Christmas from the smell ah de air alone, some feel it when de nights start getting chilly dis time ah year. Others say just hearing de traditional Christmas Carols alone is enough to bring on de feelings; but of course Lie-Za must hear from her folks abroad with de lickle US in de Card before she could get de feelings. As foh me is like it was all ah de above and more. And it goes back to child-hood, de things ah chose not to forget. From de time December stepped in, de fever was on, house stripping began, de house looked abandoned until Christmas Eve night, every piece ah curtain coming down, de ole linoleum carpet was thrown out. If not enough funds dey to paint de whole house, at least de living room and de porch must get ah fresh coat so that everybody could see it looking new. Today everybody rushing down Courts to replace good furniture, long ago de ole furniture had to be painted with mahogany varnish to look shine and new again. And de rooster (yard fowl) had to be caught early and put in ah pen to purge before we cook it.{{more}}

If you were lucky to have lived in ah village like I did, then yuh would ah experience “ Going House to House” serenading. Over de weekend, it was so good to hear Roley Bowman’s Christmas Song foh this year “Going House to House” oh what ah relief it’s not about Pull-it-tek-all House to House Calm-Pain! We don’t go House-to-House anymore at Christmas, think we have lost that important part ah de tradition. Is like ah still hearing de Bum Drum miles away in de still ah de night getting louder as it got closer; every band had ah Speecher-man, with lickle or no scholarship, but would ah mash-up any Toast-master of today, dey would quote fluently from de Bible to Dickens and Shakespeare. Jerry was de Village joker and Bay Rum specialist, he was de best speecher-man of dem all, ah still remember his favourite opening lines: “ One day I was going up Monkey River and my heart begin to shiver, if de mistress and master was ah faithful giver; dey will give me ah lickle strong to cool down me liver”!

House to House was informal and that was the unique-ness of the tradition, ah Band or Choir turned up unannounced, deliberately to catch the occupants ah de house by surprise. And it was foh funds more than foh fun; at de end of de season lots ah people were able to shop foh Christmas from House to House money. Sammy Soleyn before he died told me his Bum Drum uses to leave early December and go House to House in every Village from Fancy to Shatto before returning home on Christmas-Eve with lots of gifts, real goodies, ground-provision, fowl, goat, sheep, black-fish and of course cash.


We had some good Bands and Choirs in those days. When Pastors Isaac Soleyn and Gideon Robinson were teenagers/Panmen and not Pastors yet, dey along with George Timm and others formed ah string Band and went House-to-House, dey played beautifully . And De Williams family (Floops) had de best Choir around, was de mom, dad and six or so children, talk bout harmony, dey had it.

As Sunday School kids, ten year olds, we too went House to House to raise funds foh we Sunday School Christmas party. Way back then we had some good voices in our youth choir, Mighty Sheller and Christine Smith to name two. Ah couple years ago I was at ah funeral, and was pleasantly surprised to hear Christine singing “Our Father Prayer” and still has her sweet voice of 1950. Sheller sang ah good Alto. One night we by ah house singing “ Joy to de World” and ah male voice inside de house called to us ah say: “ No Joy in de World, not ah cent foh all you tonight if all you ain’t sing ‘We Three Kings”. Sheller was de only person who knew de whole song and sang all three kings. De voice inside shouted again: “Ah say three kings, ah only hear one king, not ah cent foh all yuh”! He was only kicks-in and brought out ah six cents which was ah big donation in those days; considering ah pint ah Ju-c was also six cents.

House to House had its unkind moments too, not every body welcome you at dey door-step, yuh had to be on yuh guard, it was normal that from de time yuh started to sing or play, it was bashowe, ah pan ah cold water coming to meet you, some went that far as to keep dey potty and night-contents by de door to douse you down. Then we had de worthless fellars who while ah part ah de choir singing at the front door, others doing dey thing in de back ah de house, next morning you biggest rooster gone.

Christmas day was de climax of de House-to-House, bands and choirs visited freely and shared with all dat was on de table. Our own CEO Clare Keizer’s best memories of House-to-House as ah kid, was going with mom and dad on Boxing Day and New Years to their friends House partaking of all de goodies. Now-ah-days all ah dat stop.

Lie-Za swear dat ah reason foh dat is every body watching dey soft rug and big couch, dey don’t want dem mess-up. So ah invited Lie-Za to go house-to-House with me; she bluntly refuse saying that was too much hard wuk without sleep every year; she prefer de House-to-House once every five years except yuh have ah Road Block, and then she reminded me that last December Uncle Frankie came by she to do House-to-House and he didn’t sing ah note or speech she off, he gave she ah envelope and ah note and said: “lots more ah dat to come” and when she opened de envelope it had ah hundred dollar bill and de note was addressed to Well-fair foh cement and galvanize.”. With or without Lie-Za ah still going House-to-House. And ah gone again.

One Love Bassy.