My Alternative to Being “Scared For the Holidays”

December 14th, 2019

I read a blog post by journalist Kate Chappell, and it made me think.

Yes, crime is on the increase. Yes, the roads are a mess. Traffic (and bad driving) has reached another level. Noise pollution (now encouraged by the Government’s amendment to the Noise Abatement Act) has reached new highs. And Kate is right – as I wrote this week, this year’s UN Human Development Report points out that “the wealth doesn’t seem to be trickling down.”  People are frustrated. If it’s any consolation, this is happening across the developed and developing world.

But hey…Welcome to the Christmas season in Jamaica!

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Kate suggests that “something seems different this year” in terms of crime. Perhaps I have been lucky, but I don’t see or hear anything different than usual. Having said that, street crime is bad enough. The Jamaica Constabulary Force is telling us to “be vigilant,” but I would like them to be more vigilant – and more visible on the streets.

However, an atmosphere of fear can be contagious. Kingston is a growing, busy city. It has always been “edgy” – as is every city I know. Indeed, these are uncertain times. In many cities around the world, as I write, there is the smell of tear gas in the air. In other cities (such as Sydney) the sun is almost obliterated by smoke from bush fires. We have obnoxious cab drivers (and SUV drivers) and people snatching handbags.

SYDNEY, Nov. 21, 2019 -- Photo taken on Nov. 21, 2019 shows the Opera House covered in smoke in Sydney, Australia. Sydney's normally picturesque skyline was once again blanketed by thick smoke on Thursday, as around 50 bushfires continued to burn across Australia's east coast.     Deemed "hazardous" by the New South Wales State Department of Environment, health authorities have urged schools to keep children indoors during lunch breaks. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei via Getty Images)

SYDNEY, Nov. 21, 2019 — Photo taken on Nov. 21, 2019 shows the Opera House covered in smoke in Sydney, Australia. Sydney’s normally picturesque skyline was once again blanketed by thick smoke on Thursday, as around 50 bushfires continued to burn across Australia’s east coast.
Deemed “hazardous” by the New South Wales State Department of Environment, health authorities have urged schools to keep children indoors during lunch breaks. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei via Getty Images)

Let’s keep things in proportion. There are silver linings.

Here's Santiago, Chile. A demonstrator throwing a fire extinguisher at riot police during an antigovernment protest on Thursday in Santiago, Chile.Credit...Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

A demonstrator throwing a fire extinguisher at riot police during an antigovernment protest in Santiago, Chile. Credit…Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

I would suggest to those uptowners (especially women) who are now fearful to calm down, take all the precautions they need to, and try to enjoy the season. We have lovely, mild sunshine, the occasional shower, good food to eat – and Miss Jamaica just won Miss World! Hey, things aren’t that bad in sunny uptown Kingston!

So, how to deflect the fear? Here are my personal “do’s and don’ts” for the season, and for my own peace of mind:

Do:

  • Take up yoga again (it’s been too long)
  • Remind myself to meditate daily
  • Enjoy our garden, the birds, trees, nature
  • Ignore the noise beyond our garden
  • Read a good book (I recommend “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer)
  • Watch a really meaty series on Netflix
  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Talk to the dogs. They are good listeners.
  • Quietly catch up with friends. Good friends.

Don’t:

  • Read hysterical stories on WhatsApp or other social media platforms that may be fabricated anyway
  • Worry about what social events you may be missing
  • Hesitate to put your headphones/airpods on and shut it all out
  • Argue with taxi drivers (or anyone)
  • Get upset with inconsiderate neighbours
  • Let any “family situations” get on top of you. If you have overseas family, be sparing with Skype and WhatsApp.
  • Start scrolling through miserable Facebook rants about how Jamaica is the worst place to live (try Syria)
  • Eat too much and then feel guilty for weeks afterwards
  • Get hyperactive. Why the rush at Christmas?

We need to stay sane, and we need to keep things in balance. Slow down. Deep breaths!

Disclaimer: I am writing this purely from an “uptown Kingston” perspective – as was Kate, I believe. What is happening on the rest of the island (including other parts of Kingston) may be quite a different experience.

Anyway, I wish everyone a peaceful and happy season! Enjoy the Christmas breeze and sorrel. Personally speaking…I shall be glad when it is all over.

Jamaican Christmas...Comfort food.

Jamaican Christmas…Comfort food.

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2 Responses to “My Alternative to Being “Scared For the Holidays””

  1. …one more recommendation: Do not read the “Gleaner” every day. It will drive you insane. You don’t need the idiotic social media sites for this.

  2. EmmaLewis says:

    Good advice!! The Gleaner was once a good read, many years ago…Merry Christmas, meanwhile!

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