Cake in the oven baking…

Cake in the oven baking, baking, baking, cake in the oven baking, Christmas Day a-coming…

…as we used to sing in St. Vincent at this time of year.  Our first Caribbean Christmas was really special – we had been living in the island for almost a year, so had had time to acclimatise – in every sense – to some extent at least.   Timothy broke up from school on November 30th (!) which was also the day my parents arrived to stay for a month and with Peter having reached the interesting age of fourteen months all was set for a happy time of celebration.  One blot on the landscape was my dodgy health, but after a trip to the doctor revealed that I had worms, and appropriate treatment was given I soon picked up!

I have just claimed that we had begun to adapt to West Indian life, and in many ways we had, but I do recall wanting to cook many of the traditional British Christmas foods and struggling to find the right ingredients.  My parents had brought mincemeat with them – but I had no patty tins, and the pastry I turned out in those tropical temperatures was almost inedible – the mince pies were not a success!

Celebrating a major Christian festival in another culture is a stretching experience.  In those Caribbean years we were forced to think deeply about how much of our celebration was vital and how much was simply cultural trimmings.  img040Perhaps we should all ask those questions every year, regardless of where we are living…

Certainly, although the culture of Scotland is much closer to that of England than West Indian culture, this year too, as we prepare to celebrate our first Christmas in Scotland we are looking out for differences and learning as we go.  Of course, Hogmanay is the big celebration here and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that in a fortnight, but meanwhile I am adding shortbread to the list of baking needed for our circuit Open House tomorrow.  Not sure I’ll be asking Andrew to pick me a fresh coconut from the manse yard this year however!  Jill


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