The week before Christmas found the workers on the farm entrenched in last minute holiday preparations. Samsung had already soaked the dried fruits and baked the gateau noel, a dark fruitcake soaked in lots of rum.  But the traditional red sorrel drink made from the fleshy sepals of a member of the hibiscus family remained to be brewed, and there were still several more pounds of roots to grate for the ginger beer. All the while the delicious smell of roasting pork, slathered with pepper and herbs, wafted from Daddy Dupuis’s smokehouse where he concocted his famous zandouge, Christmas sausage. Rosay was busy giving the entire house a thorough cleaning. Gregoire had coaxed the poinsettias into extraordinary bloom; red, pink, and off-white blossoms cascaded over the edges of the railing and onto the veranda. Krystal had trimmed a local pine tree with funky homemade ornaments. 

“Keep Krystal in Christmas,” she said, laughing. 

That afternoon, everyone lingered a bit longer than usual after work, taking one more drink and an extra piece of fruitcake before they scurried home to bathe and change clothes for the evening’s activities. As soon as Krystal lit the little lanterns that lined the lane to Dèstiné, folks began to trickle in—friends, neighbors, as well as a few strangers she had never met. The festivities commenced in earnest. Dupuis told a  Creole version of the story of Christmas, complete with an appropriately dark baby Jesus. His wife Amelia’s singing of the Lavay was accompanied by enthusiastic handclapping. Then traditional Jing-Ping music, performed on handcrafted instruments called Tambou, Shak-Shak, and Boom-Boom, kicked in. Rosay and her boyfriend danced the Belé in the center of a ring of spectators while Krystal and Gregoire gyrated on the fringe. Food and drinks flowed freely, and laughter struck the night air like cannonades until well after midnight…

Bon Nwèl and Bon Nanné from the Nature Isle of the Caribbean!   

Kristine, aka Krystal, aka Kris

*Text taken from my novel, River of Fire, available online as eBook and paperback from