Merry Christmas and a happy new year in advance. I have a few of my thoughts to share with you about my experience this year. But first take a look at my last year's Christmas experience which I shared with you, writing with so much joy and gusto. This year, I’m not having nearly as much fun, so I sat back and reflected on how my childhood Christmases where spent. I began to wonder what had happened to change things so much. I decided that it was one of two things; either I grew up, or someone stole Christmas.
To start things off, I guess I woke up on the wrong side of my bed yesterday, because I woke up feeling sick. I prayed and prayed that it would be one of those transient ill feelings, but my hope was dashed. I got to the hospital and my colleagues said I had sinusitis, maybe with malaria. Then, number 2 problem came when I couldn’t get fuel to buy for my car. I can’t imagine why the petrol dealers try to make life difficult for people during festive seasons. The demand is already high, why horde the products and hike up the prices to make a little more bucks out of greed. Thirdly, a perpetual problem in Nigeria, NO ELECTRICITY (and the ministry of power just donated N500 million to president Goodluck Jonathan in the PDP fundraiser. *Story for another day*) So, no fuel in my car to make moving around and visiting friends easier, no fuel to power the generators since we have no electricity. Indeed it was looking like a very blue Christmas.
To remove myself from this almost near depressive state, I decided to reminisce of my childhood Christmas. Back then, I didn't know what Santa Claus was, didn't get to hear about the word until I was almost in secondary school. In Nigeria then, we also didn't have the western practices of Christmas trees and gifts placed under them by Santa. There was definitely no snow and many homes didn't have chimneys to allow Santa in, (even if he decided to pass through). But the more I thought about it, I realized we had Santa Claus, only we named him "Father Christmas". I remembered that we used to go to some events where "father Christmas" would carry us on his laps and give us gifts. We were also afforded the opportunity to take a photo with him. Many of the smaller kids used to cry so much because father Christmas was a fat man with red clothes and plenty white beard. They just couldn't understand it. The older kids came out to compare the gifts they'd received. This wasn't the fun part of Christmas for me. I used to have much more fun than visiting father Christmas 5 to 7 days before Christmas day.
Usually, the frenzy of Christmas started much more earlier in November. This is simply because in Nigeria, parents got to realize that waiting till December to start shopping would make things difficult for them. In Nigeria, the prices of goods double and triple because there is a celebration around the corner. Everyone tries their very best to cash in on the suddenly high demands of the populace. So my mum used to share us into two groups for shopping. One day for the boys and another day for the girls. We usually shopped for clothes and shoes to wear on Christmas and new year's day and probably the following Sunday. At the end of it all, we had almost four new clothes. Then, she'd shop for clothes to stay at home with. After the whole shopping fiasco, came the preparations the travel to the village. Sometimes we had to travel even before Christmas day.
Because we were in a much more developed environment than the village, most times, we had to buy all that we would need for the period of our stay. Two days to take off, our clothes (definitely nothing old and worn out) would be brought out for ironing and packing. We had to have our clothes ironed because in the village, you could stay for a month without the slightest show of power. The village used to be so.... much fun! We got to see our cousins who also came in from different parts of the country. Back in the day, when we arrived at the village, we were left to our devises. There weren't many cars on the road, and the available ones had to move much slower because of untarred roads, therefore, the chances of having an accident was lower. We also didn't have all this wahala of kidnapping. We would take out our bikes and just going riding (most of the time, in turns) for the fun of it. In the almost two weeks spent in the village, I can honestly say that we don't look for the location of the parlour. It used to be wake up, eat, go out, eat at whatever relatives house you find yourself, come home dirty and and worn out, bath, maybe eat and go to bed.
Finally, the funnest (if there was a word like that) thing about those Christmases was throwing what we Nigerians call "knock-outs" or "bangard". Later got to realize it covered for fireworks. Lol. My brothers and cousins would light it up and throw into the air and it would make such loud noises and almost no light. I was too afraid to throw one myself, but I used to just stay on one side and watch them throw it while I jump up and down in joy. These knockouts were used mostly on Christmas and new year's eve. It used to be amazing!!!...
At some point in my reminiscence, I thought we don't have as much fun anymore because maybe the children in my neighbourhood grew up and none yet to replace them. Or maybe the environment is a lot more hostile than it used to be. Maybe things would get better when there are kids in the neighbourhood again. But then, I remembered someone already stole most of the childhood.
I hope my little journey down memory lane would cheer you up a bit if you were having a blue Christmas like myself. Remain blessed and have yourself a merry merry merry Christmas!