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Preparing for Christmas


Thu, Dec 22. 2011
Short Story

by: Loren Estina Da Breo

“Wake up! Wake Up! Wey big children like all-yo still doing in bed? E’ done 7 O’clock. Sun ah bun down country. Say yo “praise” and come out. I give aryo five minutes to do so. Leh me call me neighbor Doris to see what time she goin’ town”.{{more}}

You see, Comsie has four big lazy children, who every morning, she has to pull out of bed and push to do work around the house, and Christmas time is no different. Since her husband died over a year ago, it has been thunder around the house with them children.

So while she outside spinning, all four of them came out with bridle by them mouth. “Go wash allyo face. Even that too hard fo all-yoh do ah morning time”.

Then Comsie started assigning work for each of them to do.

“Listen!” she said. “Ah going to town to clear the barrel all-yo Auntie send from Canada. Gertrude, take down the curtains and wash them. Sammy, you clean the windows and the stove. Mavis, scrub the mats, the shower curtains and the porch, and Randolph, you clean the ham. It is two days before Christmas and I want everything done by the time I come back”.

So, dem started talking to each other. Gertrude says she too short to reach up to take down curtain. Sammy saying how the stove old and if she Mummy can’t take out one by Courts, and how he can’t scrub them burners and she never see people clean board window. Mavis on the other hand, thinking mummy ain’t like her because she get more work to do than the others. So, she decided, “I not doing none”. Randolph says, “She want ham clean? Yoh go get it clean.”.

But dem children lucky dey mother didn’t hear a thing dey said, she had left the house the same time. But while she out the road side waiting on neighbor Doris , she shouted to them, “lay me come back and dem wuk nah done”. All-yo go see whose face come soft like pop”. So off she went.

And dem children let go in the house. They put on CP Christmas song, “Christmas in St. Vincent really sweet”.

When they caught themselves, five hours pass. Then there was silence. Is either dem fall asleep or dem dead.

Then there was a loud horn as that of a truck. Is their mother Comsie on top the truck with the barrel. You see, the driver had asked her to sit in the front next to Doris but she insisted, “NO WAY”. She told him a story one Christmas when a thief man, stole a barrel off a moving truck, so she making sure her barrel safe, so she ride with it.

She ask them to leave the barrel outside and she go haul it in later. By that time the children arrived outside with dem eyes lighted up to see the barrel. But their mother’s only concern was if they completed the tasks given them. So she began to inspect.

Gertrude who said she was too short, burst down every curtain rod in the house. Instead of getting a bench to stand on, Gertrude jumped up and pull them down and now not one of the curtain rods can use again. And as to the curtains, they still in the bucket of breeze water soaking. Gertrude said, “them curtain dirty dirty and me finger been start to cut up”.

Sammy put the stove outside and bring in the coal pot, saying “the coal pot looks better than the old stove”, and he throw the burners in the garbage. He then went under the house for the pink paint that has been there for years and dash it on the windows. Saying, “Now yo clean”.

Mavis from beginning said she not doing anything, so she pass on the work to the neighbor son Bobby and promise him something from the barrel. So Bobby just throw some water on the porch and use a piece of smelly cloth to wipe it out. Now the porch dry, you seeing some long dirty marks. The mats and shower curtain were nowhere to be found because Bobby had the bright idea of taking them to the river for a better clean and don’t ask what happened. Yes, they got away from him in the river and were never seen again.

By that time their mother was losing her mind, going mad. But inspite of everything, she will have her ham to eat. “Randolph, bring the pot with the ham, it should be properly clean now”.

When Randolph brought the ham, it white like chalk…”Lawd Jesus! Randolph, how the ham white so? Way yo say? Yo put the ham in chlorox? Oh father Jesus, me ask yo to clean the ham Randolph, me never say to bleach it out”.

This is what he had to say to save himself:

“Mommy, the ham been so stain-up , me didn’t know what to do, so me remember when you couldn’t wash daddy stain-up clothes you would put them in chlorox. Me bin only want to mek the ham look good”.

By then Comsie was on the ground holding her belly and calling her dead husband’s name, “oh Bilton, Bilton, yo children them killing me”. She couldn’t take it no more.

Just them Neighbor Doris walked in, noticing the agony on Comsie face started to rub her down. She got up and said calmly, “My children, come to me. I know since your father’s death, it hasn’t been easy for all of you. I am disappointed with what happen here but we can make it right. You are all I have now. Christmas for us should not be about material things, about cleaning, prettying up house and washing of ham, but about LOVE. You kept me going every day after your father died. I love everyone of you”. She hugged them all at once and prayed a Christmas Prayer.