Celebrating Christmas Cayman style

 Derry Lee is founder of local charity Lean on Me and secretary of the Cayman Islands Music and Entertainment Association.

My ideal Christmas is one with my family. We sing, dance, laugh, eat and, yes – do we eat! It’s just a merry time for everyone. I remember Christmas Eve growing up in Cayman Brac was very special. We all went carolling on Christmas Eve with the church. After that everyone would congregate in the kitchen for a taste of mom’s Christmas beef. On Christmas morning we all gathered around the tree to open our gifts. The significance was that our family was always together at Christmas.

My most memorable Christmas was when my brother Dale, who had previously moved to Grand Cayman had returned home for Christmas. I remember we were all so happy to see him. It was as if he had gone thousands of miles and had finally returned. He had brought loads of gifts for me. As a kid my heart was full of love and gratitude towards him. Christmas night he took out his guitar and we all sang and talked for hours.

This year I will be spending Christmas with my family. My sister plays a major role in bringing the family together at Christmas. I think she next to my mom are the greatest cooks ever and so its always a delight to have her cooking on Christmas day.

I am very family oriented and so being with my kids and my family in general is what makes it special. It’s a time when we recognize Jesus’ birth and give thanks as a family for our many blessings. I think it’s important for us to not lose sight on the true meaning of Christmas. It should not be a stressful, gift buying frenzy, but rather a time to reflect on Jesus and share our love with others.

Caymanian Tanya Streeter is a world record freediver and television host

I love making mince pies on Christmas Eve with carols playing and the tree all lit up. As for the day itself it’s a toss-up between either entertaining lots and lots of people at our house with chaotic, mad cooking followed by a long dinner round a big table followed by a food coma (!) or having the day to ourselves (smaller table, same coma!)

Also, now that we have our daughter Tilly, weare going to get more physically involved with local charitable organisations instead of just writing a cheque, so that she understands that Christmas is all about giving to those less fortunate. Christmas is all about family traditions and we’re excited about creating new ones… and I love leftovers too!

When I was about eight my brother Timothy would come and wake me up once our stockings were at the ends of our beds because he absolutely could not resist sneaking a peek at our presents. I would not dare open any of mine, but he would meticulously open all of his so that they could be closed back up again without a trace of being tampered with. I look back on the memories of this very fondly; us sitting there in our PJs and me thinking ‘Oh great, I have one that shape too and now I know what it is… sigh!’

People all around just get into a festive mood at this time of year and that’s enough for me. I have a real dislike for the insane commercialisation of the season – seriously, Christmas decorations in the stores after Halloween?! – and I try very hard to stay away from the real consumerism as well. Most of my Christmas presents are bought from www.worldvision.com  which buys things for people in need all over the world with the donations that you make. Last year I bought chickens and ducks, bibles, fresh water access and fruit trees – it was great!

We’re having a quiet one this year with just me, Paul and our little Tilly. She will be sixteen months and we figure that it will be our last quiet Christmas before chaos descends when she’s figured it all out! Our day will probably be pretty similar to a day that daddy’s off work; we’ll all walk the dog together in the morning and then play at the park for a while before eating lunch then putting  Tilly down for a nap… maybe that’s when Mama will be showered with her gifts! We’ll have a big meal with friends in the afternoon/evening and then be home to put Tilly down at 7.30pm. There’s not much deviation from the normal schedule when you have a toddler!