Christmas is here again and I am not excited at all. I just feel that it has lost its charm. I watch my nieces and nephews gearing up for Christmas, going to church practising Christmas plays and songs, accompanying me for Christmas shopping for niceties and I wonder what memories of Christmas they will carry into their adulthood. Much has changed since our Christmas days in the early nineties when I was growing up. For one, I grew up in the rural areas, while these ones are growing up in an urban area a within community where you don’t even know your neighbour!
Our Christmas back then was the epitome of celebrations. Firstly it was the only time you got new clothes especially if your parents did not have an obscene amount of money which was virtually everybody in the whole village. If you had siblings chances are you would all be wearing the same outfit and if your mother was like mine, she would cut the costs of shopping by unveiling her clothes that she had saved throughout the years for my elder sisters. Of course these clothes would be a size bigger than their tiny frames and they would be the butt of all jokes from their friends. It was also the only time you wore new shoes and on Christmas day they will pinch you because your feet has not been used to any shoes let alone new shoes! For us-my sisters and I- it was the only time- on Christmas day when we were allowed to be at home after 2pm in the afternoon. It was the only day of total freedom to hang out in the local market after the festivities in our church. Some of my memories of this festive season include participating in singing competitions in our local church and reading memory verses which we had practised for almost a month! I vividly remember the path that led to the church, that winding path which we took cheerfully on Christmas day knowing that we will have the whole day to ourselves, singing, playing and the culmination of the whole ceremonies would be a banquet prepared for all the church goers which included lots of goat meat and some sweet mandazi’s and chapattis- sorry for those who do not know, chapattis are thin bread made from wheat. And of course there were assortments of sweets being distributed all day long. Of course the festivities did not end there, at home mum would be waiting with a sumptuous meal and the whole family sometimes joined by the larger extended family would gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We did not have any Christmas trees nor did we have any Christmas decorations. There were no Santa clauses dishing out presents left and right nor expensive getaways but I bet the Christmas cheer was made more meaningful by the gathering of community members which enhanced bonding. As for my nieces, they have got their new clothes, these ones specifically for Christmas, they have their Christmas tree full of decorations and the presents are already wrapped, they will have their Christmas vigil on December 24th and on December 25th they will dress up to go for an excursion somewhere in town, they will jump in bouncing castles, swing, ride the rollercoaster and have a good time. When they come home I will be waiting with a sumptuous meal which cannot rival my mother’s meal of yesteryears. What will be missing in all this is that communal bonding that we enjoyed those years but I guess theirs will be some good memories that they will cherish! Merry Christmas dear friends!