I never imagined some of my favorite Christmas ornaments would come from Haiti. Truth be told, when I was there in October I loaded up on ornaments for gifts, but now I can’t bear to part with them. The metal work is gorgeous, and I am especially enamored with those pieces since I met the artisans and saw them actually creating the items I bought. There is something cathartic in the rhythm of the hammer on metal as it taps away the design. I was in awe of the artists’ talents as well as their resilience. We talk so much of “grit” in America, but the Haitians have us beat there.
Lest you think Haiti is a wasteland of poverty and Mother Nature’s wrath, I’m here to prove you wrong. I thought I’d have to see a chiropractor after my visit since I was rubbernecking the scenery at every turn. Haiti’s topography changes from blue waters to lush hilltop — its coastline is tranquil, and its mountains sublime. It’s no surprise that art and the creative class define Haiti’s culture.
The people I met in Haiti were generous, warm, kind, and ever so gracious. They were eager to share a smile, a laugh, an anecdote. Though the island nation is poor in many ways, it is decidedly rich in so much. The beauty is unparalleled. The food divine. I shall forever smack my lips thinking of the pumpkin soup at the Hotel Montana. I happily came home with a suitcase full of art, jewelry, and even delicious sauces and cocktails made by MyaBel. And like those Christmas ornaments, I’m tempted to hoard them all. Alas, I will share the bounty of Haiti, for I want others to see its beauty too.
The good news is you too can hang these charming ornaments in your home. The ornaments, as well as many other gorgeous handmade pieces, are available at Macy’s through the Heart of Haiti line. The Artisan Business Network in Haiti works with retailers like Macy’s to establish and amplify the market for local artisans’ wares. It’s a marvelous “trade, not aid” model that boosts employment, supports creativity, and opens the world to all that Haiti offers.