Click for the classic sounds of an Au Courant Christmas
It doesn't take more than one Christmas spent in a perennially dark and dour city ( in other words, London ) to make you realize that all the island Christmases of years gone by were truly, truly something special.
I remember listening to my grandmother - who had never travelled outside of Trinidad to another Caribbean island, let alone to a temperate place - singing along every year to her beloved Nat King Cole, and waxing warm about all those chestnuts roasting on an open fire. It sounded strange and intriguing at the same time; my child's mind never failed to conjure a 50s era, TCM-worthy scene of languid folks having a gay, old time in their holiday fineries.
My London home has an open fireplace. It is a black, soulless, gaping hole through which an awful, bone-chilling draft enters, uninvited and unwanted, but always present. When there is a December storm in the air, my entire place howls. I couldn't care one fart about roasting anything in there, let alone to romanticise winter with its deathly black ice hiding everywhere on the grounds, waiting to send you skidding into the streets.
And yet, on a Christmas eve like tonight, I find myself searching for Sinatra's Christmas Waltz ( The Snow - track no. 05 ) and the other favourites that I now know are the bittersweet, Westernized sounds meant to mask the sadness of a Christmas spent freezing in the snow. The tunes selected in the above playlist are the ones we've all been sung, with their curious tales of winter wonderlands and boughs of holly.
( Seen above and plucked surreptitiously from a neighbour's tree earlier today, I find holly to be a prickly madness which does little to bring holiday cheer to a Trinbagonian household. Still, when in Rome... )
Better than holly is, as the wise Susan Macio has heralded for decades, the utterly delectable combination of, "Bread, and ham, together with a pastelle, ginger beer, ponche de creme, and sorrel..." If you've been blessed to have a Trini friend gift you with any of those delights on a cold, foreign Christmas, you are blessed indeed.
And if not, do yourself a favour on Christmas day, and ring out the wildly infectious, occasionally raucous Parang and Calypso classics of an Au Courant Christmas - cue The Sun - track no. 03 for all the, good humour, sweetness, and Island warmth.
Because, as everyone knows, Trini Christmas is indeed the best.
PS: a bonus has to be Alegria Alegria, a festive hit from the incomparable Parang Queen of Trinidad & Tobago, the late Daisy Voisin.
Enjoy the season, folks.
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