Christmas Time as a Child in Jamaica

As a child, Christmas, even December, seemed to take a long time to come around but when it did, what joy!

I remember the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, my brothers and I would wash and put to dry all the
available empty D&G and Red Stripe beer bottles so that when the truck came, my mom would exchange
and purchase at least two cases of sodas and beers.

No one was permitted to touch, more so take any soda before Christmas. The merriment alone from this
experience though signaled the “official” arrival of Christmas in our home.

So with sodas and beers tucked away, next up was getting new curtains – my mom sewed so she would
get the fabric, sewed and washed them, and put them away until Christmas Eve. As the only daughter,
everywhere, my mom went, during that time, I was there, so the supermarket trip I wasn’t going to miss.
Armed with gift vouchers, which my late dad’s workplace issued each year, off we would go to the
John R Wong Supermarket in New Kingston to get all we needed there for the holidays.

A few days before The Day, downtown to the market we would go to get ground provisions, vegetables, and most importantly, Sorrel and Gungo Peas! My mom would also get pineapple from which she made
pineapple juice with ginger from the peel of the pineapple. It was so good.

On Christmas Eve night we would hang the new curtains – as you know, as with every Jamaican household-
the house would have been spotlessly cleaned by this time – everything had been washed, including
the dishes, cups etc, some of which were never used all year. No one cared though, it just a part of the whole
experience which made the Season brighter.

Oh, the Christmas tree, we always had a live tree, my cousin ensured that we had a fresh tree each year,
which made the house smell so good. We would decorate the tree with decorations bought from Woolworths
store. That was the store to go back then. Gifts were placed under the tree and we would be bursting with
anticipation as to what we had gotten but we had to wait till Christmas Day.

One thing that made this day special, of which my mom talks about to this day, was the home-made Christmas
cards my brothers and I gave to her. She appreciated that so much as it was our words, not store-bought with
words by other people.

Come Christmas Day, we would go to church at 6 in the morning so we would be back home by 8 when we
have a big breakfast, Johnny Cakes, Eggs, Ham, Roasted Breadfruit, Boiled green Bananas, Ackee and Saltfish
was a must along with Tea and Coffee.

My dad had a Stereo System so we would be playing Christmas Carols both local and overseas all day. During
which time we opened our gifts, played with our new toys, or trying on our new outfits and shoes. We played
so much that upon reflection now, it seemed we never got tired, if we slowed down it would be to get something
to eat or drink.

In the early evening, friends and relations would come over for dinner – Ham, Chicken, Curried Goat, the
Pineapple Ginger juice, Sorrel, and of course Christmas cake among other offerings.

I continue to cherish these memories and continue to share them with my children and to instill in them
the true meaning of Christmas and family.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Photos: Deposit Photos