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OUTSIDE THE PULPIT: Memories of childhood Christmases

Rev. Errington Massiah

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LIFE IS FULL of changes and surprises I realized as I reflected on Christmas as a boy.
Growing up at Lowe’s Road, Ellerton, St George, Christmas was a very big thing for my brothers, sisters and I. There was great preparation at our home – painting, scrubbing the floor with whitehead bush and white lime and the cleaning of the chairs.
After that there was varnishing the chairs and the polishing of the mahogany with French polish and of course, the stuffing of the beds with the khus-khus grass.  
This grass had to be dried in the sun for a few days before. These beds were made of flour bags which were bleached for days in the sun until snow white and the pillows were stuffed with cane arrows or feathers.
Marling around the house – this was done after all the weeding and sweeping, not a grass was to be seen. You had to go to the marl hole (quarry) with whatever container you could get and a scraper to scrape the marl, and if the marl contained any small rocks or pebbles they had to be broken down into marl. This was called the Bajan snow.
We did not have any new clothes for this great festival of the year because our parents could not afford them at that time. They had to keep what little they had to pay our school fees in order that we could receive our secondary education.
We had to care our clothes. One thing for sure was that we were always clean and looked good.
In those early days, I really looked forward to the season because we received little gifts. One gift that I had loved was the mouth organ.
What I had loved most was helping my mother mix the pudding and the great cake. When the preparation of these mixtures was finished, whatever remained in the mixing bowl (container) we would get and it as great fun cleaning the bowl.
As my parents’ first child – there were six boys and two girls – I spent many hours in the kitchen with my mother.
But the hurtful thing was that after all the preparation and when everything was over, we could not eat any of the goodies before Christmas Day.
I must also let you know that Midnight Mass was a must, which I enjoyed with a little sleep in between and a nudge from our parents to wake up.
Those were the days.
To all my readers – a happy Christmas and a bright 2013.