EDITORIAL – Welcome, Christmas: May everything be merry and bright

Just as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano mark the start of spring, the welcome return of Christmas displays on our roundabouts herald an unmistakable sign that Cayman’s Christmas season has officially begun.

A number of Christmas festivities kicked off this past weekend, including the annual Visual Arts Society Christmas sale, Girlguiding Christmas Arts and Crafts Bazaar, the Playhouse Family Christmas and the much-anticipated Singing Christmas Tree.

This weekend will bring another “Santa’s bag” full of goodies, including the 35th annual Pink Ladies Christmas Tea and Bazaar and the Cayman 27 Parade of Lights. It will be followed by a cornucopia of special events and performances – too many for us to catalogue in this small space. (For updates and “best bets,” stay tuned to the Weekender and our online community calendar at www.caymancompass.com/events)

Our islands may not have to suffer through long winter darkness as they do in other regions – in fact, you could not find nicer weather on the planet than Cayman in Christmas – but that does nothing to dim our high regard for this festive “season of lights.” Here at the Compass, we will continue to bring you updated on the best news and events of the season.

“Back in the day,” Christmastime was sweetened with the anticipated homecoming of sailors and other far-flung relatives and friends. The islands brightened with decorations and good cheer. Families gathered to make decorations and bake special Christmas recipes. Yards became magical snow-white expanses of freshly laid sand. And, of course, many took extra time to reflect on religious teachings that for them, represented the “reason for the season.” In all, it was a magical time.

And although Cayman has changed much since those days, many traditions endure. During these days of relative abundance, folks still look forward to Christmas beef – which is not made an ounce less delicious by the fact that hamburgers can be had today on any day of the week. Travel may be easier now than it was for most of Cayman’s history, but that does not diminish our joy at the return of those we hold dear in our hearts.

As expatriates have flocked to the islands, they have brought with them their own Christmas traditions, which they celebrate even as they join and enjoy traditions unique and beloved in Cayman (we will leave it up to you, dear reader, to determine whether the arrival of “Black Friday” shopping madness is an improvement or a curse). The result is a boisterous amalgam of all the cultures and characters represented here – a big and jolly celebration including Christmas trees and palm trees, heavy cake and figgy pudding, sorrel and Simbang Gabi. We would have it no other way.

As we report on today’s front page, the Department of Agriculture has quarantined shipments of potentially pest-infested trees. Even if “the worst” happens, and there ends up being a shortage of natural Christmas trees on island, there is no doubt Cayman will still teem with an abundance of Christmas spirit.

We look forward to four solid weeks’ worth of bazaars, pageants, sales, displays and sweets, not to mention social gatherings, Christmas shopping, reunions with old friends and family. Christmas is coming, Cayman, in a blur of holiday lights and celebration. It truly is, as the old song goes, “the most wonderful time of the year.” Enjoy every minute of it that you can.