Christmas then and now : 4 Mums share their stories

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Its time to give and receive gifts and spend time with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In this post 4 Mums share how they spent Christmas growing up and how they spend it now…what are your Christmas traditions?

Somachi Kachikwu is an educational consultant and mother of 4 amazing boys!  She blogs at Somachi speaks!

 

When I think of Christmas, I think of my village, new clothes, Bongo music, local cuisine, and, most importantly Family. To date, I smile at all the beautiful memories created during my childhood Christmas holidays. Like most Igbos, Christmas in the village was non-negotiable. All roads lead to Emekuku, Imo State. I particularly loved village life, my siblings may have felt differently, but there is a peace that dwells in our village home. I greatly enjoyed that peace. My siblings and I would shuttle between my parent’s villages for impromptu sleepovers and knock-out (banger) wars then occasionally go to the city Owerri to pick up goodies in the local supermarkets. Maris Supermarket was the Shoprite of our time. Isn’t the simple life just bliss? Christmas was undisputedly the best time of the year growing up. The warmth, joy, laughter, and camaraderie perfectly set the stage to celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ. Did I forget to mention Midnight mass and visits from the local choir? Village Christmas was perfect.

In recent times, Christmas has become a totally different production defined by gifts under the Christmas tree and Father Christmas (sorry Santa Claus…LOL). As a young mother, I would find myself drowning in the commercialization of Christmas. Somewhere around midnight on the 24th, I would regain sanity and gather my boys to sing Christmas carols and read the scripture, but just like that, Christmas day would breeze by. Not anymore, as my children got older, I became wiser and more determined to recreate some of the Christmas traditions from my childhood. I was determined to return the warmth and spirituality of the season. On December 1st, we start listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. We actually plan our Christmas outfits as well. The weeks to Christmas, I schedule family-centered activities and ease out on the rules in the house, creating a more celebratory atmosphere.

Holidays are tricky for single or divorced parents because it’s one of those times you yearn for a picture-perfect family. Luckily, years back I was blessed with an understanding of what a family truly is because truth be told, years after my divorce; I resented holidays but alas I know better and understand that a family is a group of people who deeply care for and love each other. Another issue is if you are co-parenting, the odds may not be in your favor, and your children may be spending the holiday with the other parent. The odds are in my favour this year, and my joy has no bounds.

As I mentioned earlier, family is a priority, so the boys and I decide who we will spend Christmas with and plan accordingly. We show up with food, drinks, and gifts, laced with love, joy, and happiness. It is important to me that my sons know the meaning of Christmas and fully participate in the Catholic festivities marking the birth of Christ. So midnight Mass is mandatory. Something about Midnight Mass, right? Most definitely we always have a beautiful Christmas Tree with loads of gifts but most importantly, we must highlight the reason for all the excitement and the money spent – Jesus was born, Glory Halleluyah.

This year, I am particularly excited about the trending Luke Challenge. We enjoy listening to scripture every night and discussing the life of Jesus Christ. We will be spending Christmas with my sister in NY. My sister has 7 kids and I have 4 kids….picture that! Merry Christmas to YOU!

 

Precious Richard Okon is an executive with 9mobile, a vlogger and a mother of 3 blessed children.

Growing up in the ancient city of Benin, Christmas was always a time of frenzy. Cooking, relatives, gifts, crowded house, more cooking and then silence….right after.

I am the last child of 8 kids with my immediate elder sister being nearly 8 years ahead, so everyone had gone on to the big city while I was still home. During Christmas holidays, I would be showered with gifts from 7 siblings, who mostly lived abroad and it was pure bliss.

Christmas day was when I bore the brunt of being the last child. Errands here and there. As the only child at home, everyone needed me to find stuff or go somewhere. It was tiring and exciting at the same time, I would hide under the staircase many times (under our staircase had a bed by the way…story for another day). Then time for Christmas rice – my best memory! We all ate from one big silver tray. That tray was only used during Christmas holidays and once we were done, it was washed and kept away in the inner pantry, same goes for the box of cutlery. I had the honours of bringing out the cutlery and tray every Christmas, and our Christmas rice was rice and stew…not jollof, not fried rice, but white rice and stew with live chicken.

My mum will load the tray with rice and pour the stew on top with plenty chicken. It was live chicken and everyone knew their parts – head, neck, feet, wings – we fought for the oddest of parts! The hero was who demolishes first… now let me explain. The rice was heaped high so as you dig in from the bottom. If you dug in far enough, the heap will collapse on your side and everyone will hail you as per demolisher! Then came the belching part – my father was the chief belcher ably supported by my sister fondly referred to as MRS O!

Of course, it was the soft drinks causing us to belch but my father will say it was to create space. Eating continues till we can eat no more- then everyone collapses on the floor except my dad who needs to go and prepare for church. He is a Pastor.

As soon as we hear my father’s steps on the staircase, we all scramble to hide and then he starts shouting – You people cannot even go and thank the God that provided this food you people ate! As soon as he drives off with my mum, we all scramble for comfortable spot and doze off.

Fast forward years later, with 3 kids and hubby – it is a different game.

Our Christmas’s are more intimate. Wherever we find ourselves in or out of the country, we order food in and spend time together.

We always have lots of food, cake and drinks but it is less noisy and boisterous. We do movies inhouse, eat, play games and generally chill. The highlight for my kids is making cookies for Santa that day and patiently trying to wait up to ‘catch’ Santa…lol.

I guess they will keep trying or should I tell them?

 

Marianne is a mother of 3  and a blessing to Nations.

When I was a child, my mom invented a clever way of teaching us how sin drives you away from Christ Jesus.
So every Christmas, part of our decorations included the crèche (manger). Each animal in the stable represented a child. During advent we were supposed to get closer to baby Jesus each day…so that on the night of His birth at midnight we would wake up to see baby Jesus and see that all the animals had made it to His side. Each time we misbehaved, our animal would be moved backwards. We took this so seriously I still remember weeping hot tears when mom pushed back my little sheep the day I stuck chewing gum to my baby brother’s cotton napkin. However, at the end on the 24th at midnight all sins were forgiven and we had all made it together to the feet of Jesus. I still feel emotional recalling this.

Had never really put this into practice in my home but last year with my 5 year old son who kisses you everyday and promises to be a good boy only to break his promise after 2 minutes, I decided to bring back maman’s teaching. Our first manger journey was last year. It was a hit in our home and they watched with joy and excitement their animals get a step closer to baby Jesus each day. This year again the manger is out and each child has their little animal. My precious pearl and Ada has the brown one, and little Néhémie the builder has the Grey one. This year we decided the white one next to baby Jesus is baby Élim. He is newborn and straight from heaven so no lies or naughtiness for now. He’s still cuddled and wrapped up next to Jesus.But the journey for the elder 9 years and 6 years old ones has started and the countdown to the birth of Jesus ( has begun.

For now my son is excited telling me that even if he misses it and goes back 10 steps, he is confident that at midnight on the 24th Jesus will reach over and pull him close and all his sins will be forgiven and he will still have his gifts. lol! this generation I can’t deal. Not sure this tradition will last very long, but let’s see how this goes.

Happy advent and journey to the Manger to all of us 💞

 

Titi Horsfall is a best selling Author of several books including   “The Rivers Frontier”, she is a mother of 3 boys.

The Christmas season encompasses the period when the Christmas decorations adorn homes and offices. The streets are festooned with lights, festive trees and decorations. We see hampers slowly take over the aisles of supermarkets and shopping malls. Christmas carols flood the radio air waves. Schools as they wind down for the end of the year, line up series of yuletide activities, pantomimes and the nativity story.
As a mum, I always strive to make Christmas a most memorable experience for the family. But there is a catch! Every time I get to spend with my children, no matter the time of the year, I make it memorable! Subject to their holiday lessons or after-school programmes as well as my work schedule, I could check into a luxury hotel with them, go to the cinema, check-out a bookshop or literary venue or go out for fine dining. I am therefore tasked with being creative during Christmas.
When my children were younger, I camped in the kitchen – cooking from morning till sundown – reeling out five or seven course meals. They ate with relish quite all right, but their energy levels would burst through the roof. They yearned for physical activities and the outdoors. Fun was in swimming, football, travelling and absorbing new experiences like world citizens. So most Christmas, I took my leave from work and we ticked off travel to family, a local resort or international destination. Irrespective of where we find ourselves, the reason for the season remained paramount. We celebrate Jesus!!
I wish I could say we go to my hometown for Christmas, because that marked my childhood to a certain degree, even if for just a few days in a year! It was such a glorious experience and one in which I know my children would enjoy.  As a girl, my family and I would drive about 12 hours by road – when the rainy season was kind – cross more than a dozen bridges before we arrived at our hometown tucked in the riverine crevices. If that year, it rained like the heavens were intent on emptying themselves, we resorted to the use of speed boats which coursed through creeks of the Niger Delta. Christmas in my hometown was very idyllic. We brought along our Christmas tree, hampers, and loads of food and gifts for relatives. On Christmas morning, the church bell would ring, echoing through the town, signalling the commencement of the Christmas Service. We would join scores of other families and head to church. Afterwards, the town would be charged with activities: wrestling matches, traditional dsnces, boat regatta, football matches and fishing trips.
Once the fanfare ebbed, I for one, loved to run up and down the flight of two-storey stairway in our house and dream up romantic fantasies about what my dream man would look like when I grow up, and what the future held for me against the backdrop of the Christmas story. The peace and tranquillity there would bring that out of anyone. The air was fresh, the scenery picturesque; frozen in time and unspoilt. If you are one to bask in the wonder of nature, then it would be a hit! This was ages ago. Nowadays, the process of journeying there requires more guts than ever before.
This year, as a mother, it is going to be quite different. It would be all about family. As at 2019, I somewhat became an empty nester. As the children come for the Christmas holidays, we would split the time between travel to family and staying at home to mark the celebrations of the Season. I would fire up my oven, bake cakes, cook mouth-watering meals; especially catfish which they love so much. I would layout the picnic spread on the lawn and warm the house with Christmas carols. I have checked the movie line-up in the cinemas. Frozen is not particularly a boys’ movie, but it would do.
So, let me begin putting my menu together.
Merry Christmas!!!
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