Tuesday was “Boxing Day” and it was a public holiday here and in most of the rest of the old British empire. When he was still in short pants, your naïve Eyewitness was convinced by his older brother that he (the cad of a brother) could “box” him (your wet-behind-the-ears Eyewitness) on his head!! Discovering fact-checking, your Eyewitness soon unearthed the real roots of this holiday following Christmas – and that didn’t help matters much.
Back in the day, it would’ve been infra dig for the British posh classes to (God forbid!!) do any work like, say, making up their beds. So, servants and tradespeople provided those services day in, day out – and actually lived with their employers. Perhaps, dear reader, you’ve seen the “Downtown Abbey” or “Upstairs, Downstairs” series? The servants, of course, were “Downstairs”!!
Christmas was the big dig of the year for the hoity-toity crowd and this needed all the help to man (and woman) their stations so that (God forbid) there wasn’t a servant nearby to sop up that drop of tea that might slip between the cup and the lip!! Now these servants would’ve been recruited from villages in the vicinity – or even further afield – and wouldn’t have seen their families all year long.
So in a burst of generosity and noblesse oblige, the masters allowed their servants to collect all the Christmas leftovers in BOXES and return to their villages to share their good fortunes with their bucolic relatives! And this was the origin of “Boxing Day” – as a holiday! A tear comes to your Eyewitness’ eyes when he thinks of the big-hearted British upper classes!
The economic nouveau riche that developed with the colonial empire that begat the Industrial Revolution, pathetically tried to ape the ways of the nobility and therefore introduced both the superciliousness of the latter to servants and the corollary that the said servants should be grateful for their Christmas leftovers!! In Guyana and the sugar colonies, the riff raff that constituted the civil servants, managers and overseers of sugar estates kept up Boxing Day for their servants and boxes were duly taken to their homes in the villages.
For most of the female servants, they would have already taken home other presents in the form of “mixed” babies, courtesy of the masters! But soon the babies stopped coming – along with the boxes – yet the holiday remains. Now your Eyewitness doesn’t mind the extra day off…but with his eyes now opened, he’s bothered by the reminder of old humiliations.
With our own spirituous Christmas traditions developed since Independence, shouldn’t we rename the holiday, “Recovery Day”?
The President and his Prime Minister – each surrounded by a battery of Ministers – descended from their specially equipped SUV’s and Mercedes and mingled with the masses on the day before Christmas. Well, they mingled with the masses at Stabroek Market and Bourda Market. You’d think with all the licks they inflicted over the last year, they’d have walked with a gift or two to hand out to salve the open wounds.
But it looks like they figured the grace bestowed by their august presence was enough to earn them the requisite brownie points to take them into 2020!! Now you’d also think, with the greatest damage done to Nagamootoo’s Berbice base after the closure of Rose Hall and Skeldon, the Prime Minister might’ve parted the Berbice River and pressed some flesh there, rather than in “GT”.
After all, he justified the purchase of his special $100 million SUV back in 2015 because of his pressing need to visit his “constituents” back in the Ancient County!!
Or was discretion the better part of valour?!!
…and oil contract details
Even though Christmas is over and the Black cake has been consumed, the excitement isn’t over. We have the details of the Exxon oil contract, Trotman RENEGOTIATED, to look forward to!!
The heart palpitates in anticipation!!