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Christmas The Gullah Way

Christmas, the culmination of cultivating the land, to reaping the rewards of a bouniful harvest. It's Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year! As Christmas quickly approaches it brings me to a time of reflection, remembering how my "Big Mama" along with my older siblings would work all year long cutivating the land and gather the harvest from the sea. We are truly land and sea people. Waiting for Christmas, was a time to slow down and prepare for spending time with both family and friends. In my community there were no strangers just family and friends who would make the trip to the countryside to feast and fellowship. The makings of a Gullah Christmas.

I remember being so excited to help put up the Christmas tree, it was white with Indigo blue Christmas ornaments and all the sliver ice sickles and white lights the tree could hold.

Christmas was a week long celebration that included the entire family making sure the food was prepared farm grown chickens, turkeys,and ham just to name a few ; along with gathering the jars of pickled okra, tomatoes and watermelon rinds. After a long season of tending the crops it was time for the feast.

The holidays we often busy attending worship services, bible study, and preparing for the Christmas play. But all of these activities were enjoyed by all of the family members from the youngest to the eldest.

A few days before Christmas fresh wood would be cut and stacked by my brothers, while my sisters and the elders would prepare the mix for homade cornbread with watermelon jam, and blackberry jam just to name a few. The day before Christmas, on that old wood buring stove would be a pot of rice cooking along with a variety of fresh greens from the harvest. I can still smell that honey baked ham with all the trimmings and there was no shortage of desserts, such as pecan pies, sweet potatoe pies, chocolate cake and list goes on.

As we gathered on Christmas morning to enjoy fresh baked biscuts, grits, farm eggs, and a variety of meats,with our tummies filled, and eyes bright with excitement, it was time to open our gifts. We did not have millions of dollars, just hard working elders who taught us the value of honoring a hard days work and counting the blessings from the land and sea, everything else was a bonus. Out of all the beautiful gifts under the tree the one I remembered most fondly was the simple bag of nuts, candy canes and one orange. It was the elders way of helping us to always remember the earth and what she gave, and how the simple things are the most important and that the bounty from all the hard labor was blessed and we were blessed. We must never forget the reason for the season, family, friends,fellowship , honoring the labor of our ancestors and the debt that was paid by a little child born in a manger. Jesus is the reason for the season. Until next time with Gullah Love.


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