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October All Over!

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At one time we were prepared to confront the hurricane season with the saying “June too soon, July stand by, August come it must, September remember, October all over”. I no longer hear this ‘ditty’. In any event ‘Climate Change’ has made it an anachronism. September after a while, became our focus of attention since that was the month, we expected the most severe weather. October no longer signifies that it is all over. We can never be sure now for as we saw on Christmas eve 2013 severe rains were as damaging as any hurricane. There is little doubt that the weather patterns are changing. November was usually our rainiest month and although we did get some rains this month they were not as torrential and regular as in the past.

November was the time for thanksgiving, for having survived the hurricane season and for the expected bountiful harvests. If my memory serves me correctly, we even, at one time, had a public holiday. Today, the churches continue with their harvest service followed by harvest cantatas. They used to be filled and decorated with the year’s harvest. You walked into the churches through an archway constructed from sugar canes.  The rest of the church had every variety of fruit available at that time, coconuts, golden apples, oranges, canes, and others. The sale of the produce took place either the same day or the following day. In those communities that had Anglican schools there was usually a holiday the day after to allow you to purchase what was on offer.

Today, it is a pitiful sight to see the produce taken to the churches. Well, of course, sugar cane is no longer available, apart from a few pieces privately planted in kitchen gardens. This reflects the nature of our agriculture, but also the fact that these no longer hold any significance for us. Instead ‘thanksgiving’ is becoming something different, Americanised. I see thanksgiving dinners being advertised, supposedly for American citizens living here or for Vincentians who had been living in America.

I suspect in the way we embrace Black Friday and to a lesser extent Halloween, American style thanksgiving with turkey et al will become part of us. We are only too ready to embrace what others, particularly in North America, are doing and discard what is genuinely ours. Why are people scrambling in selected stores at midnight to get whatever bargain is available? Is it that we want to out do the Americans and to show them that we can do so, too? On Black Friday a couple that had come from a tourist boat in the harbour was walking in front of me on Back Street near to the Music Centre. There was a notice from one of the small Syrian shops advertising Black Friday sales. The lady, part of the couple, seemed amused by the sign and quickly brought out her phone and took pictures.

All of this signals what this time of year is all about. It is a whole commercial conspiracy. Businesses decide that it is now or never, so the whole idea is to turn the Christmas season into a shopping spree. Banks and credit unions are even offering special Christmas loans. The stores tell you to get what you want now and begin payment in January. But then January is a different story. Some persons will sell stock from their barrels from the trunk of their vehicles. After all man must live. So, we should cooperate and allow the vendors space on the sidewalks. No better way to spread the Christmas joy. Remember too, that we are continually removing Christ as a central figure at Christmas. Let us welcome from tomorrow the month of December and hope that it has a lot to offer us.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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