Christmas in Jamaica (Child's perspective 1970s)

by Jacqueline Bertinus
(Haarlem, The Netherlands)

Jamaica50 Entry #20 - Christmas in Jamaica (Child's perspective 1970s)

Well I'd better start from the beginning. Our family consisted of three girls and two boys and a single mother.

So with that construction money was not as they say "growing on trees", so from a very young age it was instilled in us that saving was important.

We had one of the old panel beds, the ones you could drop money into. So my sister and I would put every spare cent we had in our saving pot "the bed foot".

Pocket money was not something we knew about, so we would save every week a little of our lunch money because our mission was to have enough for the Christmas market (Grand Market).

We started our saving project from around February and by the time it got around to the summer holidays we had saved quite a bit of money.

So along came summer, whilst the other children were out and about buying candies and such the likes, we would just look on; every now and again an uncle or an aunt would visit us and of course we would get a little something as they call it.

Saving lunch money is one thing, it also meant that you eat less at school. I could not wait in the days to get home to eat. Some days I would be so tempted to by an extra bun and cheese, but I could not afford to.

I would do errands for my older sister or brother and sometimes I would get ten cents; to me at that time it was a lot.

I should explain one other thing, our saving pot was not something you could remove money from very easily. It took a whole operation to extract the money!

First we had to dismantle the bed (literally); turn the bed foot upside and shake out the money. But believe me it was worth all the stress.

The week before the Christmas market we would embark on this event. Once the money was extracted we would sit down and start counting.

Of course the Christmas list was made long ago and the closer the day came, it was like sitting on pins and needles. The day before the market we would be so tense; clothes and shoes ready because we were going out during the night.

Christmas market started around midnight... then its time to go... sitting still was not an option, we were literally bouncing around from the pent up adrenalin.

Finally we arrive at the Christmas market, our eyes round like saucers as we looked at all the colourful play things. After carefully choosing what we wanted we proudly opened out little bags and handed over our money to the vendor.

There is no feeling like that. To see that after saving for the better part of a year, finally we were able to purchase the long awaited toy

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Aug 04, 2012
by: Anonymous

Truly brings back memories

Aug 03, 2012
Christmas in Jamaica
by: Anonymous

I couldnt help laughing when i read the portion that says you have to dismantle the bed to retrieve the money from your"penny bank"A lot of kids these days will not believe that was the reality those days.

Aug 03, 2012
jamaica 50
by: Anonymous

the part where you described how you retrieve the money from the "penny box"brought a smile to my face.:-)

Aug 03, 2012
by: Anonymous

when we were growing up christmas was the time a lot of children those days would get a new dress and a pair of shoes if the parents could afford it.It was also the only time of the year some children would get to eat chicken(sad but true).A lot have changed but i am sure many parents are still struggling to offer their kids such once a year goodies.

Brings back many childhood memories.

Aug 03, 2012
Never a truer word
by: Anonymous

This brings back memories. Those days were indeed precious and the fact that we had to save made the gifts even more precious.

We need to get back to that.

Great reminder of back in the day.

Jul 24, 2012
comment on Christmas in Jamaica
by: Anonymous

How uplifting. A story to share with children and teens today. They no longer know what it is to save and with our economic system is even possible to buy almost everything what you want without money. They miss out on this great feeling which is less intense and satisfaction will not last long. They grow up being misserable adults never satisfied with anything not even their life.

Jul 23, 2012
Christmas in Jamaica
by: Anonymous

Yes I remember those days

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