“My Christmas All Grown Up” – By Bernadette Araba Adjei

Christmas africaI have had quite a number of Christmases in my life and as I have grown older what I feel at Christmas has subtely changed.

 My first memories of Christmas are those I spent growning up living with my grandmother, two sisters, two cousins and two unlces in Kumasi. I remember the annual ritual of painting the frontage of the house and the terracotta paint for the floors of the living room. I remember how this painting was done by my uncles at night and if you needed to go for a wee, you had to walk gingerly over some wooden planks.

I remember the Christmas decorations (no tree) some being made up of paper decorations we had made. I remember us and some neighbouring children going behind the house to cut palm fronds and build our ‘Christmas Apata’….which we promised to wake up in on Christmas morning – but of course we were never allowed.

I remember that  by this time my mother who lived in London then  would have sent down our ‘bronya atade’ and we eagerly awaited Christmas day to wear it. We had our paper Christmas hats on the ready too.

I remember by now Piccadilly buscuits some shaped in aminals or alphabets would have been bought. The chickens for ‘the Chrismas sacrifice’ will be cooped – usually a mix of those which we had reared through the year or a couple bought from the market.

I remember 24th night service at church, I usually will have a role in the nativity play….I remember returning home and sleeeping happily awaiting Christmas. I remember waking up to ‘Afehyia pa oh’! Excitedly dressing up for church, new dress, new shoes, new panties even. 🙂 I remember the dry crisp winds of the hamattan and my grandma’s caution to apply enough mosituriser!

At church I remember the joy with which we sung the carols! Many of which we had learnt at school and copied down religiously. I remember how revently I loved to sing ‘Oh Holy Night’ and how I wondered about ‘Am Dreaming of a White Christmas’ and how I imagine ‘..snow has fallen snow on snow’ and how ‘Good King Wensceslas’ had shown kindness to the poor old man gathering Winter fuel. I must admit it took me celebraitng Christmas in the UK in the 2005/2006 to have some of these childhood mystries solved. I remember the relish with which we had Fanta or Miranda, bisciuts and cake. I remember the afternoon fufu with groundnut soup…hmmm…bliss! No Christmas presents but hey it mattered not!

And then Christmas will pass and we look forward to it all over again and then I grew into a teenager and now lived with my parents…still new clothes but a different focus. More of the anticiptation of having all my siblings at home from boarding school. I remember now being involved in the decorations and the cooking and oh how I hated killig the chicken and will avoid it at all cost! I remember looking forward to Christmas cards.

I remember my Uni days and Christmas….The first year I went home. The second I stayed on Campus as I had exams in January. I did cook something nice for myself but Christmas was more with friends…I realised I was growing up! I missed home, but was also happy to be by myself. That took some reconcilation. 🙂

And then I complete school and am working and going home for Christmas was fun but not eargerly anticipated. And then I get married. And as the years progress Church Service at Christmas is a ‘must not miss’ for me now, both night and day services. I reflect more on the year gone past and look forward to a better year God willing. Now I have to get my home ready for Christmas…..my children new clothes and shoes must be ready. Decorations must be put up – they love it. But now chicken and cakes and Fanta are common and so for a treat we go out….but even that …we look for a place where they have not been….

And then I realise I just may let the season pass without buying anything special for myself. And that I may by be wearing ‘Mmba kuo’ cloth all Christmas. 🙂 And that the focus is ensuring the chidren have a good Christmas. And that they do get their presents!  Perhaps I have to ask the children their views of Christmas.

My Christmas has all grown up and my focus is now more spiritual. Christmas tells me another year has passed I have to assess my goals and check if I am on track. I have to thank my God for life and pray for health, blessings and grace.

My Christmas is all grown up and I must admit I love it just the same.