• Liz Lopez

Christmas and New Years, 2020/2021 + COVID Finally Hit with a Fury

It’s January 9th and as of this day, we’re officially under curfew and school has been shut down until the 14th. There was a curfew of midnight beginning on New Year’s Eve (or Old Year’s Night if you’re a local) and instead of celebrating with our friends until the wee hours, most left around 11 so as not to break the latest guidelines.

This is not how we imagined ringing in the New Year, nor is it what we hoped would happen in our ‘escape from COVID’. We knew this was a possibility, and we happily enjoyed nearly three months of normal interaction, making friends for us and the kids to spend time with, and seeing new sights we would never have seen if it weren’t for the pandemic.

Plenty of blame has been passed around, from an outbreak in the prison system, people breaking quarantine upon arriving on the island, and a tour bus that took several stops around the island while at least one occupant was COVID positive.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley is insisting that the curfew is just a pause to get their contact tracing completed and test all those that need testing. I’d almost prefer a full shutdown for two, even three weeks, to ensure we can open again for good, but they’re trying to avoid that for now. The list of places shut down continues to grow, including ArtSplash Café, (the best playground on the island), where we imagined taking Penny the morning of her 6th birthday until it closed due to an employee or recent patron testing positive for COVID. Café Sol, the Tiki Bar, and most recently Lopez's morning go-to, Dover Market. Many other popular spots along the South Coast and the rest of the island have temporarily shut while staff testing occurs and a deep sanitization is completed.

Christmas Day was spent with neighbors, a first for me as I’ve never missed a holiday exclusively with family. Blossom and Jerry, Shumi and Primo, and the Canadians on the other side of them came as well with their 2 and 3-year old’s, Flynn and Margo. Lauren and Sean (who all night I kept referring to as Ben, for some reason still unbeknownst to me) are having their house renovated, so that plus COVID led them to sign a six-month lease here. Plus, I know from my research (including conversations with my new friends from Toronto) that the cost of living here is like Toronto, so no big deal where you live if the cost is the same, am I right? I loved getting to know this family, they reminded me of friends back home and Sean, like Lopez, is very hands-on. I love dads like this in particular, because then the ladies get a chance to prattle while the dads play with the kids. Molly and Paz also came for the evening and as usual, lovely to see them.

Christmas in Barbados was a certifiable feast. I thought I’d miss my food from home (which I did but mostly just the Racine Kringle we enjoy on Christmas morning at my parents'), but there was SO MUCH FOOD at our house on Christmas day. The party started around 3, and after we opened presents followed by a sweet treat of our our chocolate chip muffins, the best baked good I could find the day before.. knowing I wouldn’t find any Kringle regardless) After that the babies and I crawled into bed to watch Home Alone while Lopez cooked for the party and Faith and Aiden went back to bed. Guests started to stream in shortly after 3, except for Blossom, who was in and out a bit bringing the monstrous LOADS of food she and her daughters cooked for the feast. Man do those ladies know how to cook!

We had the works this year; I’m talkin’ no counter space, nothing – there was food everywhere! We had Indian chicken in white gravy sauce and homemade meatballs from Shumi, we had Blossom's macaroni pie, pasta salad, grilled fish, fried fish, potato coconut curry along with with the food that others brought - corn on the cob, amazing garlic bread (before the pan shattered everywhere in a very dramatic event by the oven), appetizers, salad - basically, the works. We topped it off with pulled chicken sandwiches made by Lopez (for me and the kids because I'm basic) as well as a rendition of his dad's Puerto Rican spiced turkey that he so loves.

We played the un-wrapping game in the evening, and it was utterly easy compared to at home where my mother in law is the queen of all wrapping. You stand around a table, with one person decked out in oven mitts (both hands people) while the person in front of them rolls two dice until they get a match. The mitted person, therefore, has all non-match rolls to unwrap the gift, which has at least 15 layers of newspaper and tape. As soon as the double match is rolled, the mitts (and Santa hat) get put on the next person, and the dice move to the person who had just been furiously unwrapping the gift. When the gifts are wrapped by Kerry, it takes forever to open the gifts! When they’re wrapped by us, it goes MUCH quicker.

To cap off the night, we put on Frosty the Snowman for the kids. It didn’t last long, the little ones were tired, Sean made it home to put theirs to bed and my kids headed upstairs. The ladies insisted on helping me clean (Lopez did all the cooking, just to clarify he's not a bad husband who 'let's me clean') and we had it wrapped up just in time for a nightcap on the back porch. We polished off the Pinot while enjoying each other’s company for the first time. Lopez and Jerry did what they do best, play Dominos in the driveway while the children slept quietly in their beds. Another year’s (the worst year's) Christmas over; another year’s Santa season done and no more Gwen Stefani’s Christmas album until next November 26th.

New Year's Eve day was a combination of shopping and then cleaning and cooking in preparation for the party. My parents sent all of us cash as gifts (side note: the Christmas tree my in-laws sent in early October still hasn't arrived) and I wanted to find a romper like the ones I've seen on the island, which are amazing.

Marie-Laure graciously offered to watch Penny and Cal to accommodate my desire to shop (Lopez worked all week) and Blossom was kind enough to drive me to drop them off, while I also picked up a shopping buddy. Marie-Laure's sister, Rejane, is here on sabbatical for a month to enjoy the sun and her sister, brother in law and nieces.

The first stop was this stand on the side of the road in Rockley, where I found exactly what I was looking for outside of my romper wishes. I found two little dresses that I can put on after the beach or as pajamas, an item I had desired for some time. We then made our way to Hastings, where Molly met us so we could hit NKM Style for a cute shirt. After some time spent there we hit the jackpot with Prerna, a Lili-recommended store that was very TJ Maxx. I actually loathe shopping at TJ Maxx at home, but it's the closest I've seen to my style of clothing within my budget .I walked out with two new dresses and two very cute tops, one of which I rang in the New Year with.

When I got home at 3, it was time to clean the house! With over a dozen people coming over it wasn't looking great. Plus I had to make appetizers (my favorite food group) and ended up making the now-famous cheesy spinach dip, which I whipped up two more times that week because it was just that good. (Make that, you're welcome).

The festivities:

(Including the appearance of Lopez's bff, Horsey McHorse Face, and his partner, Squirrely)

The photoshoots:

The evening was festive and merry but ended a bit early. The company was great and included Faith, since her party was canceled due to the new COVID restrictions put in place. The curfew was midnight and her party wasn't scheduled to start until 10:30 so it was a no-go. After our friends left, we headed to the driveway and played Domino's until the middle of the night, completely missing the traditional and celebratory ball drop. Who needs that when you have Domino's and the front yard breeze? Happy New Year's and cheers to 2021! May it be less "pandemicky" and back to hugs for us all <3