Winter Holiday

 (From We The Storytellers, 2013)

A number of years ago when my husband Ernest and I were consumed with our fledgling careers and our son Chris was young, we all felt the need for a holiday – at least a few days to stop, relax and have fun – to enjoy laughter and one another’s company. Ernest and I both worked from home so we were always at work. We thought it would be good for Christopher to experience another country but in addition to the fact that we couldn’t afford to travel, it was February, the middle of the school year and, as always, the middle of work deadlines. It was a particularly rotten February and we were feeling trapped in our apartment. One morning the radio was playing a catchy Jamaican number and when it ended, the program host, who had visited Jamaica, began to laud it as a haven for the weary and playground for all. Christopher said, “Let’s go!” First, we all laughed. Then we stopped, thought, and creative imagination kicked in. “Lets have a Jamaican week-end . . . in Toronto.”

Christopher, then eight years old said,

“What will we do in Jamaica? Is the food good? Is it hot there? Can I take all my stuff?”

With these questions and others in mind we made a trip to the library for illustrated books of Jamaica, and a visit to the travel agent for brochures. We borrowed some recipes, complete with where to get the ingredients, and some reggae recordings from a Jamaican friend.  Ernest rummaged around in the storage room and found a sun lamp saying,

“If we’ve got to do this we may as well come back with a tan.”

Finally, and most important, we covered all our windows with orange, yellow and red tissue paper. We couldn’t see the snow and ice outside, but the light came streaming through in brilliant colors. Then we boosted the heat and turned off the phone ready to relax, read and play. We forced ourselves to stop our busyness for just a few days, to have child-like fun and to be refreshingly unproductive. We came “home” as relaxed as unstrung puppets but energized and ready to tackle the rest of winter.