Wednesday, 11 January 2017

the way we were

Copyright: <a href=''>notkoo2008 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The older I get, the more I throw a rose-coloured spectacled glance back to my childhood. The 3G are always having a shared chuckle when I regale them of 'the good old days'. 

"Do you mean in the olden days?" they ask behind youth and cheek.

Well, maybe they are, since they are also the days before the internet, mobile phones, electric cars and a gazillion TV channels. But these are also the days from whence tradition comes.

When I initially considered a tradition I'd like to see carried on I contemplated my childhood Christmas - the day of the Long Road To Opening Presents. Christmas in my house would actually start with the soaking of Christmas Cake Fruits in March before the baking of said fruits at the crack of a December dawn.  The kitchen would swell with the baking of Christmas Eve bread, including the special plaited bread (!) and a bun with our initials on. No amount of protest would move the Christmas morning any faster as the ritual of opening presents did not begin until we had finished every scrap of saltfish and bakes, fried plantain and cocoa tea and then washed every speckle of every plate. It would seriously feel like Christmas Day had disappeared before even the first shred of wrapping paper came off.

And whilst I try and keep as much of those traditions as I can with my own family, it gets a little harder when you are also part of someone else's family therefore sharing in someone else's family traditions. Throw in a little cultural diversity and things can get a little busy. We cope by amalgamating and creating new rituals which can sometimes result in customs getting lost or feelings being hurt.

So I thought of a tradition transcending all the branches of my family tree which, by its very nature, will grow and blossom with each generation and it cannot be remain the same or cast in stone.

I bring you the family 'do'.

Sitting free of seatbelts in our orange Vauxhall Viva, I would excitedly watch the 1980s London - in all its greyness - cascade around me until the our arrival at one of three West London estates would thrust my parents back into the warmth of who they once were and us into this strange yet pleasurable temporary existence.  Enveloped in the beat of Lovers Rock, any attempt to conceal my lanky presence in the kitchen would fail miserably as West Indian fingers, fresh from cooking pig trotter sous, would pinch my cheeks forcing me to extrapolate myself and disappear into the melee of cousins.  The rumble and explosion of  West Indian laughs above tales of 'he and she' or the thumps of dominoes on the tiniest table ever made linger in my veins and the strains of the reggae forever remain.

My girls may not be submerged into the sounds and smells of my yesterday but  they have experienced what will be their versions of  family do's across the country; from the rolling hills of the North East to Midland dales to coastal towns to Caribbean villages to city dwellings and one thing is constant; the welcome.

Other constants follow swiftly: the hugs, the food, the laughter. And still more: the new recruits (babies or lovers), the music, the little ones getting taller, the older ones getting greyer. We exchange seats at the table as our generation mourns the loss of those ahead and welcome those who follow behind.

There was a time in my teens when it seemed family dos didn't happen or maybe they did and we just weren't there. The splinters from this time have healed in some branches, not so in others, so I am thankful of the dos that remain and those that we are welcomed to join. And I relish those moments when aging fingers pinch the cheeks of my girls making them scurry for the safety of cousins across the country.

This post is in response to a Post40Bloggers: Writing Prompt No.103 : a tradition you would like to see carried on 

No comments:

Post a Comment