Ever since we moved to Jamaica, I’ve wanted to attend a gospel church service. On Sundays I hear a sermon broadcast via a rusty old mini-van that drives up and down our road, spreading the mobile word of the Lord via megaphone. I’d asked some Jamaican friends to take me but everyone always seemed to have a better way to spend their weekend. It’s Christmas Eve, I tell my husband, let’s just go to sing some carols. No, he tells me firmly. I am not going to church.
An hour later we’re sat at the back of a Kingston church as a trumpet plays a reggae version of the carol Silent Night. We’re the only non-Jamaicans there it seems but it makes no difference, everyone is so welcoming and happy, that it warms the cockles of my stone cold heart. Suddenly the lights are switched off and there are lots of candles followed by steel drums banging out a rendition of Wham’s Last Christmas. The carols commence and we’re soon swaying along to Boney M’s. Little Drummer Boy.
During the offering of the peace, the lady next to me throws her arms around me and pulls me into a big bear hug, then I’m hugged by loads of other people. It’s actually really nice and not at all awkward. I see my husband offer his hand as he introduces himself. You’re just supposed to say ‘peace man’ I tell him. Oh he says, why didn’t you tell me before?
Suddenly hands are thrown into the air again and there’s an hallelujah and people are dancing and singing their hearts out. Deshawn, the man sat behind us, has gone all ad lib and is owning the aisle dancing and adding a few more yeahs and ahhhhhhh’s into the classic Boney M. Christmas hit: Mary’s Boy Child.
This is awesome, I shout to my husband who I swear is swaying and clicking his fingers. It’s alright, he tells me, but we’ve been here three hours can we leave now? As we head out into the warm midnight air, I tell my husband I love Jamaica. I know he replies, me too. Now I’m starving let’s go home and eat a bacon sandwich, and off we drive into the tropical Christmas night.