Paul H. Williams, Contributor
Right here in Jamaica, the biggest gift-giving season is Christmas. Even some of those who do not believe in the Yuletide from time to time are caught up in the frenzy of Christmas shopping, which can be quite stressful for some people.
Gift selection is really an art, and if the giver is not quite skilled, there will be issues with the recipient. Many things about the recipient have to be taken into consideration when selecting a gift. It's about the sex, gender, age, politics, race, the relationship between giver and recipient, the nature, size and quality of the gift, and, of course, the cost.
For some people, these criteria are not a big deal. They say it is the thought that matters. This is not exactly true. Some recipients are really picky and fussy, and might even be offended by the gift they receive. I recall years ago, when a friend of mine returned to work in January, only to find the gift he had given a colleague on his desk with a note affixed to it. The note squealed, "Cheap!"
But gifts can be less-costly and classy at the same time.
Take, for instance, stuff made from natural fibres. They are creative, affordable, and functional. Portland, Jamaica, and wicker come to mind.
Portland is known the world over for its mesmerising vistas, but it is also a parish that produces an abundance of food. And within its semi-tropical rainforests of luxuriant foliage, hanging from and twisting around trees and other vegetation are a variety of wicker, a vine-like fibre that can be used to make an array of things, including furniture.
But Portland is not the only place in Jamaica where wicker grows, yet its varieties seem to be more sought after than the others'. And recently, Arts & Education happened upon a wicker artisan in Boston, who has been producing some fine pieces that seem ideal as Christmas gifts.
Kent Wilson was trained by some Moore Town Maroons in 1989 to make wicker products, under a programme organised by Things Jamaica. It was the first time he was undertaking such an endeavour, and since then, he has been churning out things that are quite artistic and practical. Yet, it is the human touch that should make these pieces more meaningful.
Acquiring the wicker can be challenging, as Wilson has to go through dense foliage - sometimes under very wet conditions. After the treks, he has to process the wicker before crafting them into a variety of baskets, miniature furniture, trinket boxes, stools, chairs, etc.
However, the ones that stand out are the bottles encased by wicker - even the caps are neatly covered. These bottles are ideal to take your sorrel around, and these wicker items surely will take some of the tension out of gift selection. They can be given to almost anybody, especially those who appreciate art and craft. So, go ahead, stop the whimpering, and give wicker this Christmas.