Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Paradise

By Mad Sally

The day before Christmas in paradise. A day before Christmas just like any other day before Christmas. We've spent too much money and still have tons of shopping to do. Boxes and bags of potential delight hidden all over the house. Where's the wrapping paper? Do we have enough tape? What about batteries? There are never enough batteries on Christmas morning.

Shopping in paradise had been a challenge. The island seems to be about ten years behind in everything, especially commerce, so those little things on everybody's Christmas list are difficult to find, if not impossible.

Like fruit cake.

My mother wanted a fruit cake for Christmas. God knows why. They really are one of those (edible?) creations that would have been better left undiscovered. But she is of an age where fruitcake is a tradition.

Bless her.

But is there a single fruitcake on the island? Not that I have been able to find. I ask one of the many locals who sell their home-baked delectables in front of the gas station door, "Good morning" -always start the conversation with 'good morning,' 'good afternoon,' or 'good evening' or you will not get a reply- "Do you have fruit cake? My mom wants a fruitcake for the holiday."

With a look of incredulity, the confident, buxomly older woman dressed in a tight plaid apron with her hair wrapped high in matching plaid replies, "De fruitcake? I have de fruit bread, look at de fruit bread!" She grabs my hands and takes me to the back of her minivan, pulls out a bowling ball sized loaf of bread dotted with color, and thrusts it in my hands.

"What's in it?" I inquire with a smile.

"De fruit! De fruit be in de bread!" She laughs at me.

Stupid tourist.

I politely decline, which is a very difficult thing to do here as people with their insistent tones of voice and infectious passion for all things make it difficult to ever say no, and I quickly get away in hopes of finding a "real" fruit cake.

Needless to say, a few days later and 132 miles on the car, I should've taken "de fruit bread."

That is just an example of what is not available in paradise. There are no crossword puzzle calendars, no boxed sets of "Twilight," no CD section at the local Kmart, no reliable video game dealer, no copy of the movie "Amalie," no Bionicle "Mistika," and the list goes on. Sure if we'd been on top of it, we'd have ordered online in advance. But anybody who knows us understands that organized is not our forte.

Really, I am not complaining. It is just another aspect of my mentality that needs to adjust to island time:

Wants and needs require modification, accepting that desirable is the closest available option. In other words, take the fucking fruit bread.

Two days ago I spent the morning at the beach in Frederiksted, which, by the way, is a mere three minutes away from my front door. There was nobody else there.


I read a great book while lounging on the sand.

I snorkeled in the pristine cerulean waters.

I witnessed flying fish leaping out of the water.

I watched sailboats tack into the Caribbean trades.

So worth the loss of a fruitcake.

Mad Sally


Pat Kight said...

Next year I'll send you a fruitcake. One should last pretty much forever, assuming it's well-doused in booze.

We may have a *white* Christmas. With actual snow, not just the usual winter fog. So there.

dadgadjohn said...

All things considered, I'll take Christmas in the Islands over Christmas in the Great White North.