No, this isn’t my kitty, Max. But it could be, if I got him a present from Kitty Wigs for Christmas! By the way, since he scampered into my life, I’ve become a total cat dork who LOLs at I Can Has Cheezeburger and everything. This is how dorky I’ve become — last weekend I made him a little kitty sweater out of a sleeve of one of my old sweaters. So cute… for like five minutes. Then, just like he would with one of these $50 wigs, he tore the thing off lickety-split.

This morning we had our at-home Christmas gift exchange, because I got my husband a really big, heavy present that I couldn’t take with me. And yes, I did get Max some presents too. He’s already loving the Boogie Mat, and as I write this, he’s completely enraptured with the Swat n’ Swing. I wanted to get him a toy to keep him occupied in our absence, because we’re leaving for Christmas in Chicago today! I’m sad to leave my kitty at home, but at the same time — I’m totally excited. LOVE me some Chi-town!

We’ll be bar and restaurant hopping downtown tonight, but Christmas day will probably find us deep in the suburbs, all warm and cozy around the fireplace, while the world is frozen, white, and cold outside. That’s light years away from the holiday traditions I grew up with.

What’s Christmas in Trinidad like, you ask? I wrote a little about it last year, but this year I’ve got some audio clips to illustrate. It’s almost as festive as Carnival, in its own way. Trinis love to lime (there’s a definition of that in this NY Times article), party, and drink, and our Christmas music reflects that. For example, Drink a Rum is a popular classic, and that captures the essence of how we celebrate — it’s all about drinking, gathering, and eating fabulous food.

Traditional Trini Christmas music is called Parang, and the queen of parang was the late, great Daisy Voisin.

Her voice was sweet, and her deep religious devotion to La Divina Pastora was reflected in her music, which was pretty much all sung in Spanish and Spanish patois. Keep in mind, Trinidad is a Caribbean island, but we’re extremely close to Venezuela, so there’s definitely an overlap of certain traditions. Ask a Trini and they’ll most likely tell you — Daisy’s trademark trill, “ayiee, ayiee” is the sound of Christmas itself. For my Trinis and those of you with curious ears, this is one of her most popular songs, Alegria by Daisy Voisin. That, along with Hurray, Hurrah is THE soundtrack of my childhood Christmases. Very different from Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, right?

Daisy Voisin is no longer with us, and I can’t find any video clips of her legendary performances, so here’s a taste of more authentic parang — the Lara Brothers.

One of the many events my father is involved with in Trinidad is an annual parang fest, and the Lara Brothers are mainstays. I hope you enjoy them, even if you’re hearing parang for the first time. Nothing makes me feel more Christmassy.

I’m feeling the holiday spirit right now — our home is redolent with my favorite new holiday scent, the Body Shop’s Pumpkin Nectarine home oil, mmmmmm…. so warm and inviting and delicious. And SPEAKING of the Body Shop, allow me to announce the winners of the Holiday Glam giveaway!

Storme

Katrina

NYC/Caribbean Ragazza

Auragirl

and Soulestrella.

Congratulations and Merry Christmas, bellas! Please e mail me at bella@afrobella.com, if you can — or I’ll try my bestest to e mail you while I am away. As you may have realized, I really fell down on the giveaway announcements and e mailing this week. Which leads me to this.

I made an executive decision last night, bellas and fellas. I need a break. Afrobella is supposed to be a joy for me to write, and hopefully, a joy for you to read. Because of the responsibilities I’ve been shouldering in my life — extra work deadlines (this week I had what amounts to two and a half deadlines… very stressful), tons of product reviews I needed to fit in, stacks of Ask Afrobellas I haven’t had time to get around to, promises I made that I just can’t keep, and oh yeah, that bout of bronchitis that I’m just getting over — within the past week it’s been feeling like a burden. And I never, ever want it to feel that way. I do promise to make good on those additional two giveaways, but at least one of them will have to wait till January. In less than two hours, we leave for Chicago to enjoy the company of family and friends. I may get around to writing a post or two, I might not. I’ll try… but for the moment, the only promise I can make and actually keep, is to have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. And I wish all of you the same.

Happy holidays and lots of love to you all!

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COMMENTS

Queen Ray says:
December 22, 2007, 4:46 pm
Chi-town?!? Yay! My hometown and a lovely place it is. I was in South Africa studying for five months recently and even though it was nice and warm there I couldn't wait to get back to my beautiful, freezing cold city. Ahhh Chicago! Anyway, enjoy the holiday season and especially enjoy yourself in the beautiful Chi! Happy Holidays!
Ursula says:
December 22, 2007, 6:12 pm
Merry Christmas to you and family! Chicago will be lots of fun.
Los Angelista says:
December 22, 2007, 7:59 pm
Have a lovely time in my hometown! Hope you get to relax. Merry Christmas to you!
kinkykhick says:
December 23, 2007, 2:16 am
Kitty wig?! Why would you do that to that poor kitty has he been naughty? Thanks for the Parang, I played it for my Trini family. The holidays are stressfull - go home and get some rest.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
December 23, 2007, 10:27 am
Merry Christmas to you and your family!! I hope you have a great time in Chi-town. I am so exicted about Holiday Glam Give away.
kim says:
December 23, 2007, 2:12 pm
Hey while you are in Chi check out my girl Tiffany's boutique! House of Sole 1237 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60605 p. 312.834.0909 f. 312.834.0916 www.houseofsole.net
Stunner says:
December 23, 2007, 5:24 pm
That photo of the cat in the wig is priceless!
Tamara says:
December 24, 2007, 12:00 pm
You completely deserve a long and sleep-filled rest! I know how hard you've been working. :) Have an excellent time in Chicago. Play in the snow! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year...see you in 2008!
warrior11209 says:
December 24, 2007, 6:42 pm
Thanks for the links and the video - brought back memories of my grandfather. Rest and enjoy your holidays - take as much time as needed to regroup..you have plenty of past blog entries to keep us all busy in your absence. See ya' in 2008
SusieQ says:
December 24, 2007, 8:43 pm
Thanks for the Shea butter info, the products look great. Have a great holiday and yes, get some rest too.
Bebroma says:
December 24, 2007, 11:14 pm
Get some much-needed rest.
Z'maji says:
December 25, 2007, 12:20 am
Ms. Daisy was jammin on that Parang and she's wearin a mean Hollywood wig. Do it Daisy. *cheeze* -Z'maji @ http://hauteblogxoxo.wordpress.com
Z'maji of HauteBlogXOXO says:
December 25, 2007, 12:22 am
Oh yea and Merry Jesus'mas Afrobella and all the beauteous Trini peoples. -Z'maji @ http://hauteblogxoxo.wordpress.com
Mahoganydymond says:
December 26, 2007, 10:31 am
I have visited your site for a few years now. I don't hardly comment. I do enjoy your post and so forth. I hope that you are enjoying your Holidays...
Ms Stella says:
December 26, 2007, 6:04 pm
Happy Holidays Bella! Take your time and do it right!
christine says:
December 28, 2007, 9:53 pm
Have some fun in the Chi and drink some punch of cream!
Aurie says:
December 30, 2007, 11:14 pm
Omg! I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the picture of the cat with the wig on... Happy Holidays to you
KeShaJo says:
January 1, 2008, 6:20 pm
I'm loving that picture! Girl I don't really care for cats. I haven't been always anti-cat, just a childhood scratch left me tormented for years. But looking at that picture takes me back to a time when I simply adored the neighborhood kittie. Awwwwwww! Great photography too!
Caribbean holiday lover says:
January 12, 2009, 1:27 pm
I spent Christmas in the Caribbean last year and had a fantastic time - you were absolutely correct in saying that it was like Carnival. Highly recommended!!!

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