@GullahGeechee Love Under the Christmas Tree

Disya ting gwine on whey webe

Pun de islandts wha dey een de sea

Pun um da plenee love frum famlee

Wha kno sey webe Gullah/Geechee.

Gwine uneat de tree

And yeddi bout disya frum we.

Thousands of people have and continue to seek out Gullah/Geechee spirituality not realizing it is not a tangible object for one to see. Just as writing of the smell of pluff mud and salinity in our air would never fully convey the experience that titillates the senses, the spirituality of those living Gullah/Geechee traditions has to be lived and felt. There is no greater time than Christmas to see it in action.

All year long, we go about St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation hailing one another as we drive and walk by and more oft than not, we get embraces in when we are face-to-face while asking about your mama and the rest of the family. Although 2020 limited the embraces in many cases, it didn’t limit the love that reached out and pulled the family together to do everything from raise money to keep folks on their land, to donate locally farmed fresh vegetables and hot meals and to go by and make sure the elders were doing okay and had all that they needed without venturing out into crowded stores and other places. We came together for Christmas Cheer on the Green and the smiles, laughter, and loved showed the essence of what Christmas is supposed to mean. We praised GOD together and saluted the divinity within each person by supporting one another and sending out positivity.

De cumya and de oda res ob dem frum off ain kno bout disya fa tru. Many folks that are not Gullah/Geechee, don’t understand why we do what we do. The historical legacy of these Sea Islands is that Christmas and New Years Day were the two times of year that our ancestors could guarantee they wouldn’t be toiling in the fields. They celebrated not only a day off from working, but keeping family and community together and not having someone sold off to some far place possibly to never return. So, coming home for Christmas and sitting with family to share a large meal, laughter, and joy honors maintaining family roots ever embedded in the soil of our homeland. We pray and give thanks for the fresh food harvested from the same soil that our ancestors toiled and that we now own. The nourishment from the meal comes from the love within it as much as it comes from the natural herbs that have been stirred in with that love.

Days before family members that live away from home can arrive back to mama or grandma’s house, family members are out catching fish and picking crab or shucking oysters. Hunters are out getting everything from deer to wild turkeys and raccoons. We are out in the fields gathering greens and cleaning them. Sweet potatoes are dug and transformed into mouth watering pies and tayta poon. Someone has to make run into town to get the Co-cola / Christmas wine so that all this can be washed down.

On Christmas Ever and Christmas day, Christmas music is playing and everyone is dressed for the day and adorned in love as each person pulls up and comes into the yard. In 2020, instead of heading inside the houses, many planned for the family to drive through, sit on the porch or piazzas or hang out around a fire in the yard. The chilly breeze made many gatherings shorter than they would normally be, but that truly didn’t cut down on the Gullah/Geechee love that was found under not only the Spanish moss strewn oaks, but also under the Christmas tree.

Tenk GAWD fa all de love and bless up time wid Gullah/Geechee famlee.

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

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