Dear Santa,

First and Second Born are refusing to write to you this year even though I assured them I have your private address in Lapland and that you read and answer all correspondence. They scoff, claiming you are not “real” and that they have known this since last Christmas. Where did that lack of faith come from? Please know you remain very real to me - as real as The Husband - and I only ever know what’s happening in his life from Facebook.

Which brings me to your Facebook page. Saint Nic, your appeal cannot be overstated. Admittedly, Madonna is richer, fitter and more famous. But Joe The Plumber-Cum-Author’s memoirs will never outsell any tome that recounts your antics up and down the chimney. So how, how, HOW, do you have less virtual friends than quiet, gentle Warren, nestled in the burbs of Kingston, Jamaica? And would it kill you to upload a new photo of yourself and the family once in a while? What joy to the world if we got a glimpse of cheeky Comet and brave Blitzen all grown up.

You have not posted any links or joined any cause. Don’t worry - I’ll send you a link to Close Guantanamo Bay Now! And you really must update your status. Santa is… nada. For crying out loud – this is your busiest time of the year! There should be feeds to our inbox every few minutes as you race to the four corners of the earth making your list and checking it twice. (A quiet word in your ear: the Obama children have fought a historic campaign and deserve that much longed for, bi-partisan, puppy who will bring about real change.)

We want - nay need to know the minutiae of your existence. You might think it unimportant, but the cyber circuit cares that,
Santa hates coming to Bim because, for the third Christmas in a row, they are fixing the ABC highway and causing major traffic jams at Wildey.
Or maybe there are issues you cannot resolve alone. But be careful what you ask for. The number of comments posted will shock were you to admit what is an open secret:
Santa wishes for a bail out of his ailing American toy manufacturing business with the same speed and no-questions-asked approach as those naughty bankers got.

And please don’t use that tired excuse that you can hardly keep up with the goings on of Prancer and Dancer, much more communicate with a vast, virtual, network of near strangers. Flesh and blood friends do take up tons of time and emotional energy with their doubts and fears over jobs, money, lovers, sickness, children – the list is endless. Cyber pals are more considerate about demanding face time you don’t have to give. And physical friends are becoming impatient, saying that if people take you for granted and expect you to always smile and shout, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” it is because you let them. But Santa, explain your need to please, and its root causes in a childhood devoid of praise, and the Facebook floodgates of compassion will swing open. Kevin, who you last saw in 1985, and only found in cyberspace a week ago, will write on your wall:
“Claus! It’s been ages!! Sorry you are feeling taken for granted!!!! Have you tried reflexology??? If you’re ever in LA I know a great healer who will clear that negative energy in a couple sessions!!!!!”

You really are missing out Papa Noel. Both you and your cyber pals have a unique technological opportunity to be endlessly constructed and mediated by a few strokes of a keyboard. If one cyber mate has become boring - ditch ‘em. You'll find another from the smörgåsbord of humanity online just as fast as your search engine can manage. There will be no residual hard feelings because cyber chums confine and define messy emotions with “emoticons” - a darn sight better than tantrums and tears! So Rudolf has betrayed your confidences to Erin Elf in HR? Please share and remember to type :-| or :| for the graphic of a Disappointed Face to appear. We in cyber space will never hesitate to give a Left Hug [type ({)] or Right Hug [type (})] - depending on our dominant side. And if that man-eater Mrs. Claus brings you grief Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art Of.com just tap those keys and comfort will come. Whose aching heart was not made lighter on finding a friend had taken the time and thought to send love in the shape of a Red Heart Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art Of.com and a Martini Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art Of.com to your inbox. If the positions were reversed Santa baby, I am partial to the odd lychee martini or three. Group hug please.Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art Of.com

I began by saying my kids no longer believe. Yet they would be devastated if you didn’t leave something under the Samaan tree. First Born would be chuffed to get Wii games and a dart board. Could you please also give the kid a little more self-confidence. He is so easily wounded. Second Born’s life would be transformed by something called Webkinz – the cow and a pig. Don’t ask. But he has to learn that being cute and bright is not enough. What about sending a subliminal message on the value of hard work? And then there is The Husband - a man with the world at his feet. Apart from peace in our time, I bet he longs for a double or at least to be made into a hologram so he could be in Qatar while simultaneously enjoying the weekly breakfast Salon at Happy Days in St. Lawrence Gap. Don’t clone him. Please. I have my reasons. Perhaps you could encourage him to live in the moment or some such thing. As for me Claus, I’m just a simple island girl dreaming of a future where both sex and Amazon deliveries are cheaper and more reliable. Oh, and can I have someone to paint my house?

Santa, you’re a star. Merry Christmas. Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art Of.com

your NBVF (New Best Virtual Friend)




It’s an awkward time of the year. November is over but the New Year has yet to begin. For once the American model of celebrating Thanksgiving is worth consideration. You get to do the whole turkey dinner a month early. This either frees you to have something more enjoyable for Christmas lunch, or, if there is lingering commitment to this bird, an opportunity for experimentation - and all before Santa makes a stop here as part of his Caribbean cruise. The day after Americans have had the turkey, mash, corn etc. they shop with deadly determination for all those presents they want to give themselves or their loved ones. By 1 December everything is bought, wrapped and waiting.

On this small rock we also have a marker to bridge November to the holidays. Independence was granted on a rainy November 30, 1966. And here’s the spooky bit: it has rained every single 30 November since then – even though the rainy season is supposedly at an end. This year was no exception. The heavens opened and poured its blessings for a solid 4 hours. Nearby in Trinidad, Independence is just another holiday – at best a signal to enjoy shark and bake on Maracas beach. For Bajans it’s a huge deal. Buildings were draped in blue and yellow bunting - our national colours – for weeks. Instead of Beyoncé on the radio wistfully lamenting “If I Were A Boy” you might have heard The Merry Men’s patriotic cry:
Beautiful Barbados
Gem of the Caribbean Sea
Come back to me
My island, Barbados
Come back to my island and me

Every Bajan to the bone wore as much blue and yellow as they could manage – reaching a frenzy on the day itself. It is quite likely that on Independence Day citizens of this small rock were wearing blue and yellow smalls. It is great to see a nation so proud of independence. But with each passing year I am more and more unsure of exactly what we are independent of.

However, even before Independence Day, this small rock’s version of Martha Stewart (Canadian and no convictions) inquired if I had decorated my tree or bought my Christmas presents. I thought she was winding me up. No. By 29 November her tree had been delivered and was about to be decorated. Is your tree bought and decorated yet? Am I the last civilian not to have lugged home an imported Norwegian Spruce to take pride of place in the front room? We already have thousands of fairy lights festooned to a huge Samaan tree in our front garden – lights that have been turned on for every festive occasion since September: Divali, Obama victory, First Born doing really well in his spelling test, Jack surviving “the snip” – you get the picture. To place a dead tree, alien in this landscape, within a house surrounded by old Mahogany, Samaan and Immortelle trees, seems perverse. However, as I am not above the unspoken competitiveness of middle class mothers worldwide, I consulted the boys.
“Kids, shall we get a tree for inside the house like we had in London?”
“How big will it be?” asked Second Born.
“As big as you like.” I enthused.
“Eh. Maybe. But we already have that pretty tree outside with lights.”
Out of the mouths of babes…

Even if there is no Spruce sprucing up our home we need to make an effort this year. Our first Bim Christmas was pretty dire in spite of my parents providing presents and the full turkey spread. We missed London rituals like Handel’s Messiah at St. John’s Church in Smith’s Square. We missed our friends and we missed the home that First and Second Born had inhabited from birth. This year has to be different. One year on we have some friends here, a home, and I at least have an invitation to enjoy some sweet, sweet music at THE Parang party of the season. Handel can wait.

The one small snag to the Yuletide festivities is that our new home is kitchen-less. The previous owners had worked tirelessly for ten years making the grounds and house beautiful. But the kitchen was left untouched. If that kitchen were human we would say it had “issues” and “challenges” to overcome. We would have its mismatched colours treated for ADHD. The cupboards would have triple bypass surgery and the sink and faucet would need a course of colonic irrigation. Now you understand why I had to hack the thing to bits while in the background Gloria Gaynor sang:
First I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
without you by my side…

By January that loser will have been replaced. I have secured a hot Italian model – smooth, elegant, perfectly proportioned, and providing unbeatable performance for ten, guaranteed, years. In the meantime we are often caught out in the pouring rain while walking to the guest cottage kitchen to get dinner or make a cup of tea.
You think I'd crumble?
You think I'd lay down and die?
Oh no, not I
I will survive