Merry Christmas!

by Abigail Kippins
Guyana Chronicle
December 25, 2000

SO, THIS is Christmas...

It is Christmas morning and it is time to open the gifts and see what Santa brought.

(For Muslims, the fasting month of Ramadan has ended in some places and is about to end in others and the quieter celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr are under way or soon will be.)

The sweet aroma of good food fills the air and there's a kind of peace around.

New curtains are up, matching new furniture or redone pieces in the spanking clean house.

The Christmas decorations look just fine and now all can relax a bit.


It wasn't so just last night as the last minute hustle and bustle drove almost everyone crazy.

In Georgetown, the Christmas shopping frenzy continued throughout yesterday and into the night as shoppers made the final effort to get everything on the shopping list before the big day.

Like it was Saturday, there were crowds everywhere.

And President Bharrat Jagdeo was out checking the action too.

He did a walkabout along Water Street Friday afternoon and yesterday afternoon he was back, starting out from Guyana Stores and moving to Regent Street where, among others, he met some of the vendors stopped by the City Council from selling on the pavements.

He exchanged Christmas greetings with many as he moved around, one eager woman shouting out to him from a bus and he turned back to share a kiss through the window.

People continued to flock the stores, especially on Regent and Water Streets, some anxiously waiting to pay for their foodstuff, decorations, furniture, gifts and the other items they failed to purchase over the last few days.

"I had to work, so I didn't get time to shop really. My husband did some shopping for me but he left out a few things so I thought I would do some walking today and buy what he forgot", one customer said.

She noted that although the hustle and bustle to complete the Christmas shopping was hectic, the excitement of shopping at this time was comforting.

Other customers seemed to disregard the stress, caught up in the excitement of the Christmas shopping.

Vendors, walking along with their items or squatting in some corner on a pavement, shouted to woo customers.

Some shoppers shouted back: "You don't have what I want...I shopping foodstuff today!"

Many were prepared to walk along Regent Street to complete their shopping since the heavy traffic was no encouragement for anyone to join a bus.

One harried woman stopped at a shoe store to buy a pair of `flat' sneakers to "get to walk properly" since the shoes with heels she was wearing would have hampered her efforts to "visit every store".

Most shoppers, however, rushed the meat centres focussing on the wide range of beef, pork, chicken, ham, eggs and other items for their Christmas dishes.

Carrots, eschallot, and other seasoning were bought in large amounts.

According to one customer, "this is the time to buy meat".

"I buy everything else, but I want the meat fresh. Now I will start my pepperpot right away", she added.

"The chicken and pork, I will season them today so they will be ready by tomorrow (today)."

However, some shoppers were upset at the high cost of some of the items, like eggs which cost up to $25 each.

"The government should do something to stop the rising prices at some point. People are only concerned about the money they are getting at this time. They know people need these things so they raise the prices...", an irate shopper said.

"How am I supposed to purchase a tray of eggs for $800? It is ridiculous."

Some business people, however, claimed that the sales had decreased as customers were only buying small items they probably forgot.

Shoppers rushed gift centres to ensure they have the perfect presents for their loved ones during the season.

Some of these were impatient and commented on the slow pace of the gift wrappers stating that more such hands were needed to meet the demands of the customers.

Other customers flocked the boutiques to get that special gown or other wear for some occasion during the season.

Though the majority of shoppers were women who tried to get the perfect decorations for the home, the men were rather active in the Christmas shopping and tried to get the little things the wives forgot or were simply too busy to leave the home.

"She is at home putting away. So I just come out to buy some meat and seasoning and so on. She did most of the shopping already", one husband said.

He added that he also needed to get away from the "confusion" at home as his wife "turns the house around".

The children were not left out of the shopping this Christmas, as some shoppers chose to walk with their children so they can pick their presents/toys for the Christmas.

"I like to let them choose what they want", one woman who was shopping toys for her three children said.

Regardless of the hustle and bustle, some over-exuberant sales clerks managed to maintain a mood of cheer and immediately hailed shoppers with Christmas greetings.

They promptly assisted customers in finding the right curtain, furniture, decorative items or simply gifts for their loved ones.

According to one customer, she had not been shown this much hospitality while shopping in a long time.

She added, "I was only going through the motions, buying new curtains and presents and so on but when I go into some of the stores, it is a different feeling."

"The people are nice and the way some of the shops look, it feels like Christmas."

Another said though she was still doing her last minute shopping, she was being encouraged by the kindness shown to her by the clerks.

"They are very friendly. I only tell the girl the colour of my room and how I want it to look this Christmas, and she helped me to pick the right blinds (curtains)...".

"Though I am shopping late, I have exactly what I want...I know my house will look good this Christmas", another said.

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