Valentine’s Day: Love Affair or Gift Affair?

It’s that time of year again……for Football…..sorry I mean for Valentine’s. Friday February 14, 2014 is celebrated as Valentine’s Day and the lovers or wanna-be-lovers will be crawling out of every hole there is, either giving or accepting gifts. But is this day still reserved for lovers or has it become a commercial event (though not a holiday) just like Christmas, Easter and all the other calendar of holidays and events that happen yearly?

Let’s first examine the meaning behind this lovers day.

A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell but the celebration of Saint Valentine did not have any romantic connotations until Chaucer‘s poetry about “Valentines” in the 14th century and later by William Shakespeare in “Hamlet”. It was made into a commercial activity by the late 18th century in England when lovers started exchanging ‘gifts’ such as flowers, confectionery and sending greeting cards.

So, by the time the 21st century came around it was all about what one lover will give to the next for that day.  I must admit that when I was young and stupid I got bit by the Valentine Bug once or twice. Now that I’m old and wise I know to purchase my own Cadbury’s or Ferrero Roche Chocolate.

Love is a beautiful thing and should rightfully be celebrated every single day as long as there is that special someone to celebrate it with. It gets annoying and frustrating, especially in this economy, when one partner keeps looking for a gift every February 14th from the other and if that gift is not forthcoming  then there is malice between the two for the rest of the month or maybe longer. Now I’m not saying that gifts should not be given but if you are strapped for cash then you would not want to put yourself in a position where you purchase a gift and tomorrow there is no breakfast or dinner or your child wont have money for lunch at school.

A simple breakfast (in bed if you want to push the envelope a little) can get the day off to a great start. Little love notes, though cliche, could heighten the senses in anticipation for a romantic night at home. Light up those scented candles that you’ve been storing, take a sensual bath, both of you, then have a glass of wine. You’ll be surprised how the night could end. The three simple words ‘I Love You’ can go a far way when said at the right moment, in the right place. So before you whip out that credit card at the chocolate store or the appliance store remember ‘home is where the heart is’.

Happy Valentine’s all you lovers. I’m off to making my own chocolate………:-)


A Few of My Favourite Things

Diamonds and pearls and rubies and whatever other precious stones there are…..these are all in my fantasy. However a quiet evening with a bottle of Mirassou Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, with Quincy Jones’ (et al) ‘Secret Garden’ playing in the background does it for me.

My newest hobby – reading – is another. A good book – not excluding the Fifty Shades Trilogy – will help my mind relax, forget about the days troubles and ease me into another realm surrounded only by the characters I read about. These are a few of my favourite things. Simple but my favourite things.

The smell of cream filling on the stove top in preparation for making a Boston Cream Pie or just tending to my sometimes neglected orchid adds delight to my being.

On a Sunday, a football (NFL) game, a meal of Grilled Pork Chops and Potato Salad complete with a seasonal fruit juice blend and Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert makes the lazy day a more favourable one and more importantly a few of my favourite things.

What are some of your favourite things?

Music, My Passion!

The first song I remember ever listening to and understanding was Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’, then came ‘Three Little Birds’ from Bob Marley and then songs from Peter Tosh, Otis Redding, Ben E. King with the Drifters, Jim Reeves and so and so forth (mind you these were LPs and 45s). I didn’t know what a Compact Disc looked like until…..well lets just say later.

I was little but when I heard the voice on that gentleman (Sam Cooke) right there and then I decided that I wanted to hear more, more of Sam, more Bob, more Otis, more Ben and generally more MUSIC. Entered JBC Radio 2 and suddenly I didn’t want to go to school anymore. Between 9am and 1pm on weekdays I was in another world. I made up excuses not to go to school but my Mom saw right through me. Still there were days when I really couldn’t attend school and I would be ecstatic about it simply because I could listen to Dalton Leith, Donovan Dacres, Tony Holness and some I may not remember at this time due to CRAFT, play great music. Morning chores, on whichever day I was privileged enough to listen to these greats play beautiful songs, were done with the greatest of pleasure.

I think I fell in love with Marvin Gaye because of ‘Sexual Healing’. Other children had diaries (or custom made journals made from one of their exercise books) to transcribe special moments, a first kiss or a new boyfriend. My journal was to write the lyrics to songs in. The first song I learned the words to was Janet Jackson’s ‘Again’ and my mother was the one who taught me. Now my mother is one of the reasons why I develop this passion for music, good music. She had a positive influence on me. She listened to great music and she read a lot. The other person was the owner of those LPs and 45s, my cousin Rupert Clarke. ‘Mas Busha’ as we all know him used to work in Kingston and would come home to Trelawny on the weekends and once he landed whether on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, the ‘party’ started. He would open up that stereo system (you know the one on the four legs with two speakers at the sides and the turntable in the middle) and out came great music while behind the scenes we the kids stole some of the Red Label Wine and some of his crackers and salt fish with tomatoes. This man knew his music and he made sure we listened and learned as well.

Later my family received a radio, a sizable one, from other families overseas and my world became an Orion. As time went by and I got older my mother gradually permitted me to turn it on and I soon learned how to use the record/play buttons. The rest as they say is history and I have a medal of honour for the person who ‘discovered’ music.

School Days in The 80’s in Jamaica

My co-workers and I were reminiscing about OUR school days (don’t knit your brows, yes I’m that old) and how much fun we had back then. If you did any of the following and more then you had fun while learning to become a man or a woman and a skill too. Did you:

Play Hop Scotch during lunch time or after school, Jumping (from a stone) over a stick held by one (or two) other children, Played marble (preps, steely, bembe etc), played Rubber Bounce (elastic bands bounce from a wall to fall on the other on the ground), Skipping, Chinese skip, Hide and Seek, hand games….you know the ones that start with ‘reedim’ and your hands clasped with another child’s, Spider web (with your fingers), Simon Says, Stuck and Pull, Dandy Shandy, Played baseball, flew kite while class was in session. Andrea tied her classmates to the desk…..DWL.

Did you walk more than a mile from school, in the rain, with your shoes in your bag?

Stone peoples mango tree and the dogs too. Do you remember Donkey Jawbone (Jackass corn), Bulga (hated Bulga)? Did your school get Milk Powder to distribute to students but you ate it all before you reached home? Do they still distribute Nutri Bun and Milk in schools? I got free uniform material at primary school, did you?

The point is we never had knives and guns at school just our pencils and exercise books. The only time you were allowed to carry a pair scissors was when you had Clothing and Textiles class in high school. You could not use a curse word in the presence of an adult without being reprimanded both by them and your parents. I clearly remember once using the word ‘damn’ in my mother’s presence at the age of maybe 15 or 16 and was staunchly disciplined by her. I’m sure I speak for the vast majority who attended school in the 1970’s and 80’s when I say I loved those days and wish that today’s ‘children’ (more like force ripe adults) would adopt some if not all those fun activities and be more friendly towards one another. This world would be a better place. Or would it?