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Commissioner Williams' mother reflects on ‘old time Christmas’

Published:Thursday | December 18, 2014 | 10:37 AMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

For 83-year-old Lynette 'Mama Lyn' Williams, the mother of Jamaica's police commissioner, Dr Carl Williams, Christmas has always been a special time of year in her household, albeit the character of the festive season has changed over the years.

"In earlier times, there was a togetherness, which is not seen in these times," said the elderly mother of eight children (six boys and two girls). "Things were not in abundance as they are today, but the entire community was like a big family. Everyone had to have even a meal."

'Mama Lyn', as Williams is affectionately called, is a staple in the community of Wait-A-Bit, which is nestled in the hills of southern Trelawny. She recalls that in former times, every one in the community went to church on Christmas Sunday.

sense of reverence

"No matter how you were throughout the year, there was a sense of reverence when it came around to Christmas time ... . We would all go to church to celebrate the birth of the Saviour. Sadly, that is not the case anymore," said Williams.

According to Williams, it was not unusual to return home from church on Christmas Day to find her kitchen filled with many strangers, the friends of some of the community children she had mothered.

Back in earlier times, Williams remembered taking the ginger she had grown during the year to nearby Christiana in Manchester to be sold at Christmas time. Ginger is used in the brewing of sorrel, a popular drink at Christmas time.

"In those days, we did not have a refrigerator, so the meat was corned (a process that uses salt as a form of preservation) and stored for the special day," said Williams. "There was usually food in abundance, with a variety of meats to choose from - enough to share with strangers."

"Chicken, pork, beef, fish ... you name it, and it was available, and everyone - relatives and strangers - had to sit around our table and share," added Williams.


Four years ago, Dr Williams, who still embraces the generosity he grew up seeing his family exhibit at Christmas time, called his mother to find out if they were going to have any special guests for Christmas dinner, and when he was told no, he did something very special.

"He asked if we had any guests and we told him no. He then said we should go out and find even the homeless or mentally challenged to share with, and that is what we did that year," recalled the commissioner's mother.

While times have change and Christmas has lost some of it relevance, Williams said her family would continue to embrace the values, attitude, and respect which they were taught to show to their fellowman.

"It can't always be about me," said Williams. "We must look out for each other, and most of all, we must seek the Lord and make time to go in His presence to give him thanks - even at Christmas."