What Things Do You Cherish?

An Abundance Of Things

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Theresa

thingsMy tiny District of Gibraltar, St. Ann is barely a dot on the map of Jamaica. Yet it was here, in the deep rural parts, that my five siblings and I spent our formative years. These years paved our way to the highways and byways of opportunity and prepared us all for the sometimes uncharted terrains. We were pioneers in many ways, as our older cousins, who represented success to our young and impressionable minds, did not travel the courses we took.

We did not have much in terms of ‘things’. We had enough – by our standard – but down the road from our three bedroom house and hall, there was Miss Daisy and Maas Joe. At 6′ tall, Maas Joe was not only perceived to ‘run his house’ but was the most successful farmer and modern-day equivalent of an “entrepreneur.”

Maas Joe was successful and, incidentally, he was a distant cousin of my mother. He and his household had “THINGS,” including a car and a massive house that was located right in the district’s square. The downstairs of the house was a huge, in my youthful eyes, grocery shop and the upstairs were the living quarters. Maas Joe owned most of the lands in the area, perhaps hundreds of acres, and boy did he work them!

Whenever he was working on the farm, Maas Joe would load the only Land Rover pick-up in the area with labourers of all ages. He owned many herds of cattle that grazed on the fodder next to the Primary School that I attended. Maas Joe had “THINGS.”

Perhaps they were fleeting moments of ‘need’ but sometimes I wished Maas Joe was my father.

The preceding words are from a post written and published on Claudette’s former blog. It is revived and republished here today as part of the Christmas focus for this month. This is the time of the year that many people, those who observe this holiday season, are very mindful of things – the ones they will give and those that they will receive. As such, we thought it right to share this piece on things – from my perspective and from my childhood. So let us continue with the tale of things.

The Place of Things in My Childhood

Clara Brown on a visit to Gibraltar

I was aware that with a good supply of “THINGS” one could live comfortably and would be able to buy anything he/she wanted. Looking back, something now dawns on me. Miss Daisy and Maas Joe did not smile, at least not in public. There was no raucous laughter echoing through their doors onto the street.

More significant, there was no gathering of the sisters (Miss Coolie – my mother, Miss Tuxie and the youngest Miss Pulachie). After church, the sisters would gather to exchange their weekend blessing of deliciously cooked rice and peas and chicken. How many ways can one cook fricassee chicken?

Most Sundays, the sisters cooked the same foods, yet they exchanged meals and joyous, gut-busting laughter and anything else that could be thrown into the mix of ‘togetherness’. It was never about “THINGS” for these three. They also shared an ever-amusing interaction as they started speaking in a strange ‘gypsy’ language. Us children were always fascinated when they started this charade. Instead of taking this as the cue to leave the room, we hovered in a corner within ear-shot until frustration set in as we could not decipher what they were saying.

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It Was Never About “THINGS”

Our church

Our house was situated close to the Baptist Church and our cellar was the storage for the slippers and walking shoes of the women who travelled miles to attend church. Our ‘facilities’ provided relief for them in preparation for the 3-hour long service. We were awaken every Sunday by 5:30 a.m. to clean said ‘facilities’. The early wake up was to make sure it was presentable for the first ‘stranger’ who came by. “Stranger” for us simply meant someone who did not live in our household.

My dearly departed Mother was an upstanding “Market Woman” with an extremely loyal clientele. She sold at the Falmouth Market in Trelawny, the parish bordering St. Ann. Growing up, my elder brothers and sisters took turns to sell in the market, either with my mother or on their own when she was ill. I, Miss Coolie’s ‘wash-belly’, was never taken to the market.

I often tell my only child, Jared, about my astute mother’s juggling act. There was a point when three of us were attending Primary School at the same time. Unable to afford more, the single pencil my mother bought would be ‘cut’ in three pieces. We each took turns with the bit that had the eraser. Through this experience, we learned the value of caring for our ‘things’. We were forbidden from borrowing so we each kept our third of a pencil in a safe place until Friday. I really looked forward to my Monday morning treat when it was my turn to get the bit of the pencil with the eraser.

Our household was infused with a drive, energy and compelling desire to excel.

Excelling did not mean having cars, a huge house, acres of land as Maas Joe and Miss Daisy. To us, ‘things’ meant enough to provide fuel for the journey along the road to achievement of our life-long ambitions. Our mother never put us under any pressure to do our school work. Her repeated chant was instead, “Pickney, work hard because mi nuh have no legacy fi lef give oonu.” (Translation: Child, work hard as I have no legacy to leave for you.) Another perspective on ‘things’. We learned from an early age that we can only count the cows in our backyard, not anybody else’s. As Theodore Roosevelt so aptly stated:

For better is it to dare mighty ‘things’ to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure – than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that know not victory nor defeat.

The Most Significant Gift This Christmas

Not too long ago, there was a Facebook post asking those born in the 1960’s what was their favourite cartoon. I could not take part in this exercise because:

  1. There was no TV in Gibraltar in my childhood and the radio station signed off at 8:00 p.m. due to poor transmission.
  2. There was no electricity in my district until the late 1970’s.
My son on a trip to Gibraltar

The foregoing should have clued you in that my beginnings were humble and I must admit that I have been railroaded into indulging, bitten by the ‘material bug’. The challenge we live with today is not trying to provide enough for our children but convincing them that what they have is enough. Things change and not always for the better.

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There was a beauty, simplicity and wonderment to my childhood and Gibraltar. It was one more about dreams and imagination than of material expectations. Cable, TV and video games did not yet exist,. This might seem crazy to many of you, considering the importance of things like cable TV in the United States. This is highlighted by the fact that United States pay TV brought in $85.5 billion in revenue in 2018, showing just how many people pay for it. Some people can’t bear the thought of going one full hour without watching the television, and the need for it only increases when the latest episode of a popular television show has just been released. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching TV as much as the next person, but I don’t rely on it. But at least we have good a satellite internet connection if we do ever want to catch up on the latest boxset or episode because we want to be able to stream it to the highest quality. It is a boon to have the satellite internet connection available in our area. It is not that we would not like to have a regular cable network but understandably so, you would need to have various cable network packages available like Dish TV packages and alike, just like in the United States of America. Nonetheless, we’re very blessed to live the life that we do.

We didn’t have that luxury of TV or satellite internet then, so we visited and played in our “pretend world” that we created in our backyards or the not too busy streets. Of course, this meant that the backyard had to be safe for us to go and explore. We usually had to contact this trugreen north carolina company to make sure the lawn looked nice and to make sure the insects were controlled. That sort of thing really helped us to spend more time in our backyard. It seems we valued things more because there was not a lot but we DID have enough. In fact more than enough.

Materialism is now the way of being. We venerate conspicuous displays of wealth. As a people, we need to revisit the fundamental yet ever-so wise truth that there is enough. More importantly, our children need to be inculcated with a sense of “enoughness” and not such a sharp focus on accumulating. That is a gift that you could add to the list for this Christmas?

Clara Brown

Clara is a longstanding member of Claudette’s Daughters of Sheba Facebook group, a friend, an Insurance Executive and a very wise woman. She lives in St. Andrew, Jamaica with her spouse and now 12 year-old first-born baby, Jared. Her most recent article was “My Baby Died: How Do I Go On?” as part of our Emptiness series and “How To Use Your Gifts To Thrive Wherever You Are.”

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38 thoughts on “What Things Do You Cherish?

  1. kleebanks

    I agree it’s definitely not primarily about the “things,” but rather about the people- especially family – and maintaining some of the old favorite traditions, as well as establishing new ones.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Glad that you find resonance with that! 🙂

  2. The thing I cherish the most from when I was a child was the family traditions around the holidays at my grandparents home. All the girls and woman used to make homemade egg noodles a couple days before the family gatherings. I started doing the gatherings at my home after I had my sons and taught them to make the egg noodles.

    1. Ms Claudette

      What a wonderful way to carry on the tradition! Love that! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. what a story! It’s the little things that simply matters.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, those are the ones that often matter the most! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  4. Rosey

    I’ve recently just lost all of my ‘things.’ It took losing them all to realize, they’re just things. I do very much miss having a car though (let me count the ways, oy!), and most importantly, all of the pictures and home videos, and the items my grandmother gave me. There’s a lifetime of memories lost, and though they’re just things, and I do understand that now, but to me they were very loved and cherished, and are very hard to let go of too.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. Was it a fire – if you don’t mind my asking? I am glad to know that you have come into the recognition that they are just “things” and that you can hold them in your mind’s memory. Give yourself time.

  5. I really cherished and treasure the memories of my childhood, My siblings and I are very closed to each other, But now we have all our own families, but we keep on communicating on each other.

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is absolutely awesome! 🙂

  6. Angie@chasingmyhalo

    So much truth in the post. The love of things can far too easily consume, and the holidays are a good time to Focus on cherishing what’s important!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed it is! 🙂

  7. Eileen xo

    This is a beautiful tribute to a childhood filled with love. I stress to my children that the love and memories are way better than high priced shirts and gadgets. Thank you so much for this beautiful article

  8. I cherish my childhood memories. My siblings and I had so much fun growing up. They live far away from me now and although we communicate regularly, I miss them so much.

  9. I’ve always grown up with all the things I could ever want. Now, as an adult I still have excessive amounts of things, but they don’t make me happy. Lately, I’ve been focusing on less things and more friends, family and experiences to bring happiness into my life and the difference is night and day. This is definitely the perfect time of year to spread this message 🙂

  10. So true, there is such beauty in simplicity, which I guess is why I love being in nature and doing things that are active and outdoors.

  11. I can’t remember my childhood memories but the only I remember was I don’t had a lot of stuff when I was a kid.

  12. victoria

    I am growing up so nothing but now i try to give all the needs of my kids and i always teach them being thankful for what they receive now.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Great approach Victoria! Thanks as always for your visit! 🙂

  13. I would have to say I don’t remember having “things” as a child either. not like today when my kids are overloaded with “STUFF”

    1. Ms Claudette

      Overloaded is a great word for the accumulation of stuff that parents indulge their children with these days. Thanks for visiting again! 🙂

  14. That is really a touching story about the pencil in thirds. I also think it’s really neat that your home was such an important part of Sundays for so many people.

  15. Elizabeth O.

    I love that message. The way you described “things”, it’s all so awesome. Thanks for sharing! It’s really a good lesson to pass on to the kids.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you for visiting again! Always appreciated. 🙂

  16. I really like the idea of teaching and practicing a sense of “enoughness”. I’m kind of a minamilist and don’t accumulate much or have a want for a lot of “things”…other than health, happiness, love and peace. 🙂

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am just like you – I have no need for “much” in my life or space except for those things you listed! 🙂

  17. i like reading Clara’s story and the part about looking forward to getting the part of the pencil with the eraser really touched me.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am so glad that you liked this post! 🙂

  18. I am who I am because of my humble beginnings. I would do it all over again because of the values instilled in us by our parents. I still enjoy spending time in the Trelawny hills where I am from. In fact I have built my house down there because that is where I plan to retire….clean air and genuine people

    1. Ms Claudette

      Well said! Love your perspective and planning! 🙂

  19. I try to give my kids time more than things.

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is beautiful Tara! 🙂

  20. Wendy

    I didn’t have much growing up either but the thing I cherish is the time in nature I spent with my Dad. Hiking thru the woods. Still love and cherish being able to walk in the woods.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Now that is most definitely worth cherishing Wendy! 🙂

  21. I was born with nothing so I am incredibly proud of where I am now and the things that I do have I cherish with pride!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Is most certainly makes you more proud and cherish more what you have now when you had very little to begin with! Thanks for sharing Ana! 🙂

  22. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I didn’t have a lot of “things” growing up, so now things are very important to me.

    1. Ms Claudette

      And that is okay. I think Clara would agree with you as well as within our circle of friends we call her a diva lol because she most certainly love things now. However, she is very balanced. Thanks for sharing Robin! 🙂

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