Memories of Christmas

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Down, down, down the memory lane. I visualised a typical week before Christmas day back to the years. It used to be a season we all look forward to. We all come back home from our different Universities and colleges, and get down to work after a days catching up.

We draw a budget of what needs to be prepared. We contribute our pocket money saved from school and then ask dad and mum to make it up for us if need be.

Two of my sisters will be delegated to do the shopping while the others decorate the house. We begin with washing the toilets and bathrooms, back of pots and pans, window curtains. We do the bedrooms and finally do a thorough cleaning of the living room.

Four days to Christmas, we prepare some of the delicacies that will be used to entertain the numerous guests we anticipate to come around. We bake different flavoured recipes of cake taught by mum. We make chin-chin, fry groundnut and also bake biscuit.  The guys prepare the poke, chicken, goat and fish. Mum cooks the nsala soup on the Christmas day while the guys pound the yam. The ladies make the pork pepper soup, while dad takes care of the drinks. We make and ngwo-ngwo while my eldest sister will take charge of other cooking delegating us to different role. It is usually a long week of activities, and we loved doing it because it is only done once a year. It gives us the opportunity to really get together, having been away in different places throughout the year. We all look forward to that occasion.

One of my sisters introduced the idea of having Christmas tree in the living room. We usually get a whistling pine tree and put it in a wrapped bucket filled with sand. We pick stones from the small stream close to our house and decorated the sand with the whistling pine tucked in it. We make an improvised snow using cotton wool to decorate the whistling pine. Then tie fancy balloons to it and light it up with our Christmas lights. We really derive joy doing these.

With these set, we agree on where to travel to. We loved visiting our maternal great-grand-mother and grand father. She was very old and loves to have us to herself just once in a year. As big as we all are, she insists on our sitting on her laps in turns and we do that to please her. She is an old adorable woman. She keeps a lot of smoked groundnut for us as that was our favourite. Grandpa was cool and does not believe we are old enough to take care of ourselves. He insists on knowing what we are doing and where we are at every moment. He does not allow us to go see the Niger River because he thinks we will be carried by the river since we cannot swim. But anyway, we get by somehow to see the river without him knowing; and we did not get drowned. We also go to watch the village masquerade, cultural dance and football matches usually played during our stay. We spend about three days with them and head on to our hometown

There is an aspect of this celebration we love so much – GIVING. We derive a special joy in giving out food items and clothes to the under-privileged around us. We learnt that from our parents whose habit it is to always make provisions for others. We inherited that. For me I make some savings with some groups in my place of work whose proceeds are shared towards the end of the year. The money is used to buy food items in bulk ranging from bags of rice, stockfish, crayfish vegetable oil, onions etc. Those go to charity, people who will be struggling to have a nice Christmas. Dad participates by allowing some families buy pork from his pig farm for free. That is the much he can do being a retired civil servant. We can imagine the joy that come to peoples faces when you give them a surprise.

But now a lot has changed. Most of us live thousand miles away from home and cannot make journeys back to observe the family tradition. But then mum and dad still keep up with GIVING.

As for me, I hope to carry on the family tradition when I start my own family. I will teach my kids how to give and share wonderful moments with people especially during such festive periods. They will like us then, learn how to prepare delicacies – I hope I still remember my mum’s recipes; otherwise I will experiment and develop my own stuff for my family. Having learnt a lot from dad and mum, my kids will equally learn a lot from us.

CSN: 31526-2008-06-25

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