Sunday 25 October, 2020

Christmas planning is underway in Cayman; how to do it right

Granted this year might not have been the most conventional or the best by any standard.

Not only have lockdowns, job and business losses, health (mental and physical) concerns and uncertainty been major issues, but one major Cayman holiday- Easter- was spent without the typical traditions and events, due to public gathering and mobility restrictions. All of the ingredients are there for a "bah humbug" type of vibe this Christmas, or... are they?

Thank heavens, all of the sacrifices by the people and the government of these islands has resulted in Cayman being free of community transmission of COVID-19, and the sparing of local lives has been a huge blessing that we can all be grateful for. Cayman's government has managed local finances so well that our country has a social safety net that many countries have not been lucky enough to have. 

All of these are reasons to celebrate Christmas in a pure, gracious and humble way-- this is the year that the true meaning of Christmas should be felt. Rather than spending large amounts of money, give gratitude for your health, your family, friends and neighbours, and for the many mercies of 2020 because as we are seeing around the globe, it could be so much worse.

As we approach the middle of September, and thoughts of Christmas begin to creep into our minds, our hearts and our plans, here are the various ways that we can prepare for Christmas and appreciate our local treasures.

1. Start making plans to get a tree

Christmas savings are felt most the earlier you begin planning and trees are no exception. Start doing your research now and plan to make use of low-cost decorations such as recycled decor or natural elements for that local touch. Hurleys is offering pre-holiday pricing on their Christmas trees with Premium Balsam trees marked as low as $53 at www.hurleys.ky/trees, with free delivery offered from November 23.

2. Plan to engage in traditional Caymanian Christmas activities

Create a sand yard, decorate your home with conch shells, go and see the traditional lights... Start making your plans now for all of the fun to come! Most dates haven't been circulated as yet, for the activities that have been on the local calendar for many years, but The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Heroes Square has already been scheduled for December 3 from 6-9 pm. There is nothing like some traditional Cayman fun, and preparing for it, that will get you out of the COVID-blues.

3. Support local craftsmen and women and buy local at all times! 

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Caymanians are complaining of all of the hold-ups at customs and the inefficiencies of the local and international mail and courier system. There is no better time than now to buy local, especially given the hardships faced by our local business owners, both large and small, during the crisis period. If you need help with ideas, take a look at Experience Cayman, Cayman's first economic festival for local recovery. 

4. Give back to the community

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Plan to put aside a portion of your earnings towards those who are less fortunate than you. If you simply do not have the resources to do so, then the next best option is to volunteer your time. If you have children, volunteering is actually a better option than giving monetary donations as it teaches the youth the importance of giving back. Here are some charities that you can support. 

5. Food: Visit a local restaurant or hotel and try to eat farm-fresh no matter what

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Whether you take a staycation, enjoy a local meal, throw a party, enjoy culinary luxury or have a quiet family meal, try to make it local. This is important for your health and the local economy. Restaurant menus typically reveal whether ingredients were sourced locally and grocery stores on-island also indicate which foods were sourced from local producers and farmers. For a list of local farmers, see the link here. 

Finally, whatever your religious leaning or whether or not you even consider yourself to be religious, this is the time for gratitude. Practice and give thanks in the way that works for you. Whether it is going to church, synagogue or another place of worship, praying at home or just by being mindful-- know that there is a huge force at work both within and outside of you.

Give thanks.

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