Mind you, schools would resume by the first week of January when salaries are still far. Wise parents would consider school fees first before embarking on Christmas spending-spree
Christmas, which is celebrated in December, the last month of the year, is here again. The season is one that brings so much joy and happiness. The period is full of celebrations. And it finally ushers in the New Year for every living soul. I, therefore, say big congratulations to all that made it through the first month to this last month and hoping to walk majestically into the new prosperous year.
I have fond memories of Christmas as a growing girl, into a lady, and a woman. Back then, our first excitement in the family starts from relocating to our village from the station where our parents lived and taught as teachers. The re-union and new discoveries could just be imagined. One cannot just ignore the Christmas season. No way! Looking through the window, on the streets, road, offices, market, schools and churches, Christmas is everywhere as it could be felt. On the mild bushy paths towards our village stream then, there were new beautiful pink-bloom roses in large quantities that nature pushes out during Christmas. It was called ‘Christmas flower’, and highly admired by children. In our house, my late mother, Mrs Selina O. Ekeh, a renowned meticulous headmistress would prepare her home, family and her school for Christmas. The season does not come to her as a surprise because things fall into place accordingly. New decorations at homes and in schools were not hidden. Some of the school activities like the Carols would be brought home. At home then, by the middle of September and early October, the preparations would have come in full swing. Our Christmas clothes, shoes, ribbon for the girls, all requirements would have arrived from our father who was in US then. I remember each and every one of us, her five children and wards, getting three new sets of clothes. One for the D-Day, December 25, the second for the Market Day celebration (Ekeoha Day in my town) while the third one was for January 1, the New Year’s Day. In fact, seeing our Christmas clothes encouraged us to do well during our examinations. We did not repeat clothes for occasions during Christmas season. Every event must have its required new outfit because it was Christmas.
We were allowed as teachers’ children to make choices from varieties of foods and drinks stocked at home because of the season. We were also allowed to watch different masquerades all day, follow them to the market square, and return late and dirty without getting lashes of the cane. So, many of our offences were forgiven easily, domestic chores and reading reduced drastically. We ate varieties of food as much as we could without interruption because it was Christmas. No season could be compared with the Christmas season.
It was during our primary school, one of our classmates had gone to a popular tailor during our break period to measure his Christmas clothes, and the tailor was not readily available. That was the reason the boy returned when leisure period was over. The teacher waited for him at the entrance of the class armed with his long cane, when he realised his mission was surrounded around the Christmas festive period, he warned him with a hot thrash of the cane to go home and sin no more. We were at liberty to do so many things because it was Christmas period. I have not also forgotten the assignment of 25th morning: going round the village to share Christmas goodies to the elderly ones courtesy of our mother. We wished the season would not come to an end because it was like letting us out of the cage. I give it to the South Easterners who make Christmas a fun and loving epoch. But life and times have changed.
I have not forgotten one sad Christmas for my extended maternal relatives whose Christmas clothes did not arrive until 27th evening.
Their tailor disappointed them because he collected excess clothes from many customers and failed to deliver. By 23rd and 24th December when other children had started describing their outfit in anticipation, my relatives looked lost because they did not know what theirs looked like.
Their mother had just instructed them to go and measure their clothes which they did, but unfortunately they were disappointed and hell was let loose. The joyous Christmas became a sad one and their wailing attracted passers-by who had thought that something was amiss. But if you ask me, something was really amiss. Christmas cloth is the beginning of the celebration for children. On inquiry, the tailor had vacated his shop because of pressure and threat from clients. It was impossible to console these people because of their Christmas dress which was nowhere in sight. They were devastated and they had a bleak Christmas. That too made their mother to learn a very big lesson.
Today, how many parents prepare for Christmas? I am not talking about Christmas decorations, but being prepared like the Girl’s Guide motto would say: ‘Be prepared at all times’. Inasmuch as Christmas calls for spending, do we need to spend without calculations and considerations? Must we impress anyone to enjoy Christmas? No! Wise people sit down to plan themselves before the Yuletide bearing in mind that life continues after the season.
I know some families who have not visited their hometown since their birth, Christmas is a good opportunity to visit home to see what their communities look like, as well as interact with their grand parents, attend festive events and know their relatives.
The message today is clear and simple. If you have not planned yourself well, do not put your household, especially your husband under pressure because of Christmas celebrations; except there is a compelling need to travel.
Mind you, schools would resume by the first week of January when salaries are still far. Wise parents would consider school fees first before embarking on Christmas spending-spree because January seems like the longest month in the year. Have we considered the house rent, which some still owe, but planned big to travel for Christmas? Travelling for the season is enjoyable, but one could discipline him/herself except that t’s have been crossed and i’s dotted. Transporting a family of four by a commercial vehicle will definitely be exorbitant. Expenses should be curtailed with wisdom. One needs not borrow to enjoy the Christmas season instead one should set one’s priorities right before thinking of travelling. Do what is within your reach. Buy what is needed not what is available in the shop. Do not compete with anyone; you must not buy new things to impress anybody because it is Christmas. Make your family happy wisely.
For the ones who must compulsorily drive down, be careful on the road. A journey is complete when one gets to one’s destination in peace. Those who drink and drive, remember that life has no duplicate. Over speeding can silence a whole family on the road.
At home, give your parents reason to celebrate your coming back; do not be on the road to celebrate with friends all through and abandon your family. You will definitely see new faces, while trying to re unite, don’t forget your family.
Church leaders and some events tend to do a mini-launching during this period when people return from the cities. Do not compete with anyone. At such events, give cheerfully what is within your limit. Do not embarrass yourself by giving what you cannot redeem. You can always increase your gift when you are more buoyant. Do not make empty promises to relatives who would flock around asking for Christmas gift. That is why it is important to prepare ahead.
Wives, be a mother hen to the family. Be careful with your children; do not set them free to be destroyed. Remember rape case is still on the increase, cultism abound in villages, while kidnapping has not stopped completely. Wake up early and freshen up before your children wakes, so your eyes could be a monitoring guide on them. At events, guide, guard your children and shield them from danger.
It is also an opportunity for the children to learn the local vocabulary, make maximum use of the chance, and do the best you can as a wife and mother. Do not be carried away with the pecks of the celebration, other Christmas seasons will definitely come our way. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous happy New Year in advance.