Every year when Christmas has passed, I have to admit that I find myself missing the gaudy holiday décor that blanketed Tortola for a few weeks – weeks that I now think of as far too short. The flashing lights, inflatable Santas, and multi-coloured tinsel seemed to be up for only a blink of an eye and now that they’re gone, a big, sparkly hole has been left in my island life.
Before moving to the BVI, I was a fan of classic and simple holiday decorations: white lights, candles in the window, red poinsettias – it was a scheme I considered both elegant and tasteful. For 28 years, I lived as a holiday snob, turning my nose up at the more garish decorations like tinsel or anything with a hint of sparkle or glitter. I would make dramatic gagging noises, as though I was choking on a candy cane, whenever I passed by homes that seemed to be practically overflowing with holiday spirit, electrified as they were with multi-coloured lights and decorations.
But once I moved to the Caribbean, all of that changed. This kind of Christmas became a distant memory, as did the simple style of classic holiday decorations. Like everything else in the islands, Christmas here is colorful, loud, and unafraid to let loose. And I was as surprised as you may be to find myself not only embracing it, but reveling in the humor of it all.
As the holidays drew to a close, I became a woman possessed, trying to soak up every last drop of my now-beloved tacky island Christmas. I found myself jumping for joy at every inflatable decoration I saw, whipping out my camera phone every time I spotted another glittered purple ornament in place of my previous standard of red and green. The tackier the decoration, the wider my appreciative smile – and more merry was my laugh.
I already can’t wait for Tortola to bring back my Top 3 Favourite Tacky Decorations…
WARNING: Tortola does not deck the halls in style – or at least the style you have likely come to appreciate. Eyes may begin to tear and retinas may burn in the more extreme circumstances.
1) Frosty the
Delta Petroleum has quite possibly the best display of Christmas decor on the island. I was personally devastated that the powers that be chose not to display their coup de grâce from last Christmas, the 7ft tall inflatable snowman holding a shotgun. While the snowman came as no surprise, I was both confused and entertained to find that a rifle was also considered an appropriate Christmas accessory here. Frosty the Snowman was one of my favourite Christmas carols as a child, but I only remember mention of a button nose and two eyes made out of coal in the song. I certainly don’t recall Frosty having a staunch belief in the right to bear arms. I was clearly missing out. Fingers crossed that Frosty and his jolly rifle will make an appearance for a future island Christmas!
2) The Ho-Ho-Horrible Santa
He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake … and he’s lurking at the entrance of the One Stop Mall. I would love to know who bought this larger-than-life, Andre the Giant-sized, fear-inducing Santa. Doesn’t anyone know that Santa is supposed to make children smile, not make them run screaming in the other direction? This creepy Kris Kringle is the stuff of nightmares and terrifies both children and adults alike. I would be in tears if I saw this Santa-beast climbing down my chimney and wandering around my home in the dark of night.
3) The Store that Sparkles
The Island Department Store is your one-stop-shop for the very best in tacky decorations for Christmas, and every other holiday for that matter. This retailer really embraces the gaudy, decking the halls of our rock with all things glitter – ornaments, metallic Christmas trees, and the like. This shop is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re just taking it all in, like a museum of sorts. Sadly, the Christmas bonanza does come to a close, but with Valentine’s Day around the corner, the flashiness is never gone for long.
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Island life changes you in the strangest of ways. Who knew it’d change my taste in the way of the tacky?
C’est la vie! It’s more fun this way.