The year is ... um, 1980-something. My family has saved up their pennies all year so that we could take a trip together for Christmas. No gifts this year, other than the gift of being with each other.
My siblings are grown, and I'm on my way, almost college age. My brother is going through a painful divorce.
We arrive on a small island in the Bahamas. Nothing touristy here. There are two places to eat, plus the kitchenette in my parents room. Groceries are expensive here, so my mother packed a baggie full of flour in her suitcase for frying the fish she was confident we'd catch. Yes, customs saw it. Yes, they pulled her aside. Yes, we teased her unmercilessly, and still do, to this day.
The island is so small, we walk everywhere, no cars. Because of that, and the general holiday spirit, and the tastiness of Rum Punch, the adults are imbibing a little more freely than normal.
Christmas Eve, a boat full of Haitian refugees is docked at the island because of a storm. They aren't allowed off the boat. My brother, who has had some of that Rum Punch, or perhaps a couple of Bahama Mamas, feels sorry for them. I can still see him -- out in the balmy air, he stretches his arms out and serenades them with our family favorite, "Children Go Where I Send Thee," all 12 verses.
Children Go Where I Send Thee
We always listened to the version by Odetta, and sang it with those verses, but as the years went by, different versions crawled in, changing this verse or that one.