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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