All I want for Christmas is to go home - COVID-19 alters holiday plans for Jamaicans overseas
There's no place like home. As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this powerful statement resonates in the hearts of so many Jamaicans living overseas who are unable to spend quality time with their family members and friends.
Tesha Stanislaus was never one to partake in the merriment of Christmas. Her family, who resides in St Catherine, didn't indulge in many traditions for the season. But all that changed when a co-worker invited her to celebrate Christmas with her and her family in Kingston.
"I jumped at that opportunity so fast because she is a wonderful friend. She has the most loving daughter, and her entire family is incredible!" Stanislaus told The Gleaner.
Beginning with that first invitation, every holiday she would split her time with her co-worker's family and her own — halving the time leading up to Christmas or spending Christmas with one family and New Year's with another. But, having migrated over five years ago, she misses both, especially during the holidays.
"I want to be with family again, living here so far from them is torture. I wish for COVID to be gone or even under control so that I can travel. And while it's good to receive gifts, the greatest one would be being home with my family," she lamented.
She recalls 2014 as one of her fondest Christmas memories, inclusive of gifts, great food, a series of festivities and at the heart of it all, love.
Jomanda Rosegreen-Allen can relate to missing home as well.
"All I want for Christmas is to be reunited with my friends and family," Rosegreen-Allen said.
Being away from home for almost two years, she has missed the grand feasts and gatherings with friends and family most of all. "I don't care what anyone says, Christmas in Jamaica is the best!" she remarked.
Her son was born in January, and she is disappointed that he hasn't gotten the chance to meet everyone. Until then, she is planning a small dinner for herself, her husband and their son. They will engage in a gift exchange, and she will be video calling friends and family.
"It's not the same as being there in person. You miss the vibe and the energy. But for now, this will have to do until I'm able to visit again."