Mythical Felize had its ups and downs, but was a happy little country most of the time, and Felizeans really came alive over Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with music heard throughout the land and seemingly endless supplies of food and drink and good cheer offered freely at the many parties and celebrations. During this festive time people would often take a few moments to appreciate the blessings of their rich land, bountiful sea and most of all, each other.
“Yeah mon, we got it made in the shade,” Worthy said, washing down a particularly good panade with an icy local brew.
“Sub umbra Floreo,” Javier agreed, leaning back to pat his round belly, “Sub umbra floreo indeed my brudda...”
Tensy, Worthy’s cousin, had been in a bad mood the last few days, and she felt the urge to pass it around.
“Huh! I suppose some got it made in the shade, if they spend enough time there, but me, I’m glad to see 2010 go. Good bye and good riddance, I say.”
“What’s bothering you now, Hortense? ” Worthy asked, but not with too much enthusiasm. He didn’t really want to know, and his cousin’s moods could get ugly.
“What’s bothering me is how some fools go on about how rosy everything is all the time, but for some of us, this wasn’t a very good year.
Even with his big shades on, you could see Worthy’s eyebrows rise up, and Javie just chuckled as he reached for his glass.
But Tensy was on a roll now.
“I suppose you feel like that hurricane was a joke,” she said indignantly.
“That was no joke,” Javier said, “You think I enjoyed replacing that tin roof I only bought last year? “
“And with the roads out I couldn’t make nothing for almost a week, and it was slim after that,” Worthy added, and then he leaned forward and said, “But you know what Tensy? When I did get out it did me good to see how everyone pitched in and helped each other out. Boy, you neva seen people work so fast and so hard... and mostly for free, handing out meals, blankets, helping with hauling and building. Talk about hand wash hand, it did my heart glad!”
“Amen,” Javie toasted.
This gave Tensy pause, but not for long. She turned on Javier.
“Well, I didn’t see you too happy with those big foreign companies pushing in and crowding the best spots you used to take tourists to! You weren’t so sum umbra floreo then”, she folded her arms in triumph.
Javier had to think on that a moment. True, he hadn’t been the happiest of campers. And then he smiled and stretched out to pluck another panade off the plate.
“Well, you got to look on the bright side, Tensy gal, at least it woke people up, and the tour operators are stronger and more united than ever... look, there’s always gonna be greedy people out there, but at least we recognise them now, we know that we got to protect ourselves and it’s making us stronger... people are waking up.”
He took a bite and leaned back again.
“There you go” Worthy said, reaching for another excellent panade.
“Well, Mr There You Go, what do you have to say about the mess our city is in! You drive around there all the time! You read the news! How many people got killed this year? How much senseless mayhem, not to mention the drugs and corruption and filthy streets and everything else? That put a smile on your face?”
This quieted things down quite a bit. Things were bad in the city and seemingly getting worse. It had been a very bad year for crime, which many said was getting out of control. Tensy knew Worthy lost a friend in a shootout in the streets, and she almost regretted her remarks.
“Well, that’s bad, and you may think it’s getting worse, but you know what Tensy? I see some of the worst, and I still see a lot of the best. When I’m in the most nasty part of the city and see some small kindness, like someone helping an old person, or a person comforting a child, or just a stranger smile, then I feel hope, and as long as I can still feel that, all the badness in the world can’t overwhelm me, can’t make me stay sad or angry.
“‘Cause that hope, that’s something that’s real, like a little glowing coal in the blackness, and sooner or later with enough people fanning it, it’s gonna glow brighter and burst back into flames. You see how fast darkness and cold goes away before a good flame?
“Long as there’s a coal going, I’m gonna keep fanning...
“And I think that’s what this birthday we celebrate every year is all about...”
“Amen to that Brother,” Javie said.
Tensy’s face lit up as if a dark cloud was passing. She looked around and almost for the first time that day noticed people talking and laughing, children playing, lovers smiling shyly, old people taking their ease, just appreciating the day, and it was as if a black and white film became colour again.
Hope, a bit of grace, and doing the right thing. That’s what this time of year is all about, she reflected.
“That’s the thing, isn’t it,” she said out loud, “Sometimes we just need to work a little harder to keep that little flame alive,”
Something seemed to catch Javie’s eye. He heaved up with a big smile. “Barbeques’ ready,” he said and walked through the crowd beaming and nodding to everyone he passed.
Here’s to a Merry Christmas and working together towards a brighter flame in 2011.
Photo credit: Appadvice.com