Firstly, the weather! "Santa" ain't riding no sleigh, he is paranging! ("Parang" is a type of music played in Trinidad, mainly around Christmas, and derives from our hispanic heritage. "Paranging" is pretty much partying from house to house... yes, Trinis use ANY excuse to party!) We used to have some traditional Christmas music in our house too but mostly parang.
Then there was the re-decorating...EVERY... SINGLE... YEAR! It is tradition to re-vamp the ENTIRE HOUSE!!! Honestly, I think it was just a fancy form of CHILD LABOR! Yet we had sooooooo much fun doing it. We'd have to scrub alllll the steps (& we had a wrap-around veranda so you know they got rid of us for at least a day or two!)...then paint it! We'd get new furniture for the front porch or just re-paint what we had if it was in good condition. My grandfather was in charge of the yard and he made sure it was in pristine condition! So he'd hire young men in the neighborhood to take care of the more arduous stuff and he'd take care of the rest.
Granny was the homemaker. I don't ever remember her telling us what we had to do. There was subtle, yet not-so-subtle, delegation in the house. They would buy the paint and we just knew that EVERY room had to be re-painted. Granny would buy bolts of fabric and sew new curtains for every single room (drapes and valances inclusive too honey! Trust me, JC Penny had nothing on my grandma). We mopped, polished and dusted every nook and cranny in preparation for the new knick knacks. New doilies (which I HATE btw! Why? I just do), new tablecloth for the dining room with Christmassy placemats, the "good" dishes came out of hiding, new bathroom rugs and last, but not least, the tree!
We had the nerve to put up Christmas trees with fake snow! (My grandparents never actually saw snow but hey, we had snow on the tree.) Some years it was a Charlie Brown tree (fake of course, replete with snow!)
And the fooooood! NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING, beats Christmas morning with home-made bread and ham, with just a touch of pepper sauce on the side. Or pastelles, black cake (a.k.a. rum cake or fruit cake), sorrel, ponche de creme (eggnog)...mmmm the list goes on. (By the way, that was the ONLY time I'd ever see walnuts in the house so I O-D'd on them!)
Then after breakfast, (only on Christmas morning AFTER breakfast) we could open our presents. I was such a dummy! We didn't have a chimney and do you EVER think I questioned how Santa got there? NOPE! We had windows called louvres...
....and I could care less how he squeezed his fat butt to get in as long as I saw my name on presents under that tree! (My son, on the other hand, takes the time to think about this stuff). But it never bothered me...as a matter of fact only a couple years ago I realized I was getting BOOTLEG BARBIE! My friend (Ana) and I discovered one day that we were both jipped! (She's Portuguese and our backgrounds are so similar). You know the "Barbie" that's HOLLOW?? Yup! That's what WE got! (try giving that to a kid nowadays and see if they don't beat you with the same damn doll!)
But at that time, all I cared about was being off from school and happy that Santa didn't think I was bad that year ;)