Bring back the old Christmas

A Christmas tree

 It’s Christmas all around the world. Chorals commemorating this special day, at this time of the year, have already rented the air. The city dwellers are escaping the oppressive city life for the more laid back village one.

What’s strikingly absent, at least for me, is the absence of the Christmas cheer that marked much of my childhood back in the village. Mother would decorate the house and inscribe using colored clay MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Then there were meals. These meals were only made this time of the time. or at least the combination of the three. Rice, chapati, meat, and drinks. If father was present he’d slaughter a ram. If he was caught up with job commitment, we’d do with chicken (which was okay, although we wouldn’t have meat for a whole weak).

Of course there were clothes that had been bought in advance if luck was on your side that year. Every morning evening you paid homage to these brand new clothes, as if they were some sort of god. As a kid Christmas was some sort of a cult. We wouldn’t wait to wear the clothes which, unfortunately, was in fashion in the village – every kid had the same clothes.

On the appointed day, mother would split chores between us and we gladly undertook them. Every kid wanted to be pleasing. After all it is Jesus’ birthday. Usually, my role would to take of the animals. I would drive the cows to where they usually grazed, and later come and watch over sheep so that they don’t get lost. In December, there was nothing in people’s farms.

All the while, the smell of chapatti – the royal food at the time – would waft into the air from every homestead spreading forth the Christmas cheer. In our kitchen, mother would be busy making sure that we had this annual feast.

At lunch time or even an hour or more later (the delay was worthwhile), for this kind of meal took time to prepare, we scrubbed ourselves clean and donned our brand new clothes. Then the meal came and we ate gluttonly, as if we had never tasted food in a decade. A few hours later the effects of the meal would set in. Constipation.

That was the Christmas joy at its purest level, undefiled by perils of adulthood – bills and more bills. The joy is gone. The day is just like any other day in the calendar, and a day closer to paying a bill. The eerie sound of the token meter wakes one up in the middle of the night in its unique diabolic cheer. I am saying this because I detest capitalism.

During the festive season, every single brad attaches that red father Christmas’ hat on their brands, telling you that you need this or that for your day to be perfect. Everybody is trying to tell you that it would be less of fruitful day if you don’t have at least what they are selling. There are offers described – wait for it – as crazy. it is crazy because you don’t save anything, you spend.

Right now fares have doubled if not tripled. I can only empathise with the mama mbogas who’ve saved throughout the year for a chance to travel to shagz to see their people. She already sent the children to the village and remained behind to earn that extra coin, may be for that son or daughter joining form one next year. Because she hasn’t been to the village, even the day that her uncle was buried, she pays triple the amount. And  that’s precisely the reason am remaining behind in my ‘sheet hole’ praying that I meet Santa somewhere.

I’d ask him why Christmas is overrated. And if he is in a good mood, I will ask him for a bottle of whisky, and boiled meat, with pilipili hamsini, with plenty of soup the following day. Then I’ll pray for blessing for the following year and that the heavy burden of addictions and afflictions be lifted from the hearts of every man and woman whose strides shall be wide enough to leap into the new year.



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