I’ve been doing Christmas Stories for the last few days now and I’ve gotten to read lots and lots of people’s memories. It is clear that Christmas for many of us meant is about family and community. It is also about Chapati, new clothes, and lots of family and community. And visitors from Nairofi. Cousins to be precise :-D. You know those city kids who came for Christmas with clothes that were more beautiful than yours and ponytailed hair with colourful beads? And they always drove in in what we called ‘personal’?. Those ones. The word ‘personal’ was enough description of a car. And it simply meant that they did not come in a matatu.
Anyway, I can’t help but notice how Christmas has changed as we’ve grown up. People have moved on. The cousins who came home to celebrate with us are now married with families and are having little celebrations of their own for Christmas. Many have taken on the idea of holidaying over Christmas and traveling to the coast and other parts of the country. Some are flying out for the holiday season.
In my immediate family for example, my mother has since moved to another country after retirement and she has been away for about 3 years now. I’ll never forget the first Christmas after she left. The first ever Christmas we celebrated without her in all our lives. This is a big deal because we’ve never been anywhere but home for Christmas. And she has always been there. So we’re looking at years and years of having the matriarch at home and then not having her.
That year, my sisters, brothers and I were home as always. At least those who could make it. Along with a horde of nephews and nieces. We had everything we needed for Christmas. We knew what to do. We knew to wake up and cook. We knew to organize for a goat to get it slaughtered and all. But we still felt kinda lost without mum. There was a glaring absence that we were just not used to. But change is the very essence of life and we’ve since accepted this one.
Christmas now means fewer and fewer of us at home. For many of my siblings, life and work has also happened and sometimes Christmas finds many of us in far off towns and unable to travel home. Some in far off countries even. That too we accept. And that means lots of group video calls over Christmas and lots of activity in our family whatsapp group, lots of photo exchanges from wherever in the world we are. Sweden, USA, and even from rural Ethiopia.
Christmas is still Christmas though not as physical so as it used to be. In the end, our spirits are always home. We’re always gathered in my mother’s house in spirit even as we celebrate the holidays from other parts of the world. Because that is where the heart of Christmas is, and has always been.
That’s my Christmas story. What’s yours? Tell us on our Facebook page and Safaricom and I could make this Christmas this much better for you by giving you Kshs.2,000/- of airtime, or an Infinix Hot S phone or a Samsung Galaxy S 2.9.7 LTE tab for the best stories.