Christmas: A Lesson learnt

Christmas ends on a plate.

Plain white salted rice.  Spicy stew made from large tomatoes.  Chicken the size of half a fist. It’s never more than this.

I wake to the sound of beer bottles knocking against each other. One of those bottles would be drunk by Father. My father is a heavy man with a large belly enough to contain three of my day old selves. He has a taste for fine beer too. I remember watching him uncorking long green bottles, tossing the cork like newspapers thrown in dustbins with reckless abandon, to be thought of later, looked for or forgotten entirely. He drinks with a flowered glass cup, filling it till a dome of dissolving foam floats atop.

From the kitchen, sounds of knives slicing through fresh, tough vegetables filter in.  Chioma is doing the needful. She woke at 6am to notice tiny bits of dirt lining her eye lashes; she flung them off with a quick wash. The carrots and green pepper have to be reduced to tiny bits, so the three year old high grade stainless steel knife is sharpened while a large pot of water steams on a green kerosene stove nearby. A breaking dawn reveals stacks of unwashed dishes leaning against the kitchen walls, arranged the same way for years; spoons and cups on  a single flat stainless tray, stainless and plastic plate stacked irregularly like piles of hamburgers waiting to be served to refugees, ceramics and glass kept in solitary abandonment. Christmas is almost done.

Christmas starts in November. It begins with branded goods, carrying green leaves, red bells and ‘Merry Christmas’ printed in italics. Bells ringing over the radio. Harmattan winds forming thick white fog at dawn, dry lips and dried mucus you’re seduced to search for in your nostrils. Black Fridays. It continues with historical accounts. One of such is the birth of Jesus. I’m so much intrigued by the story of Mary getting pregnant and Joseph vexing and the wise men. I find myself imagining how they lived those days. How rich Joseph must have been, a carpenter. Perhaps he put on one of the best perfumes when he went to meet Mary. I find Mary’s submission to the burden of pregnancy gullible yet appealing; full of faith. The wise men are indeed appealing. The gifts were of great significance. I try recreating Herod’s annoyance, his desperation, the fear that weighed down his lips. I wonder if pidgin would have been a better language those days. The Christmas story is obviously a favourite.

Most stories come with a lesson. So let’s be serious. The first would be that there are many lessons learnt. The next is that my inherited perception is boring; it’s a little bit soiled in the middle. This Christmas I learnt to appreciate my longing for hot eba and thick egusi, chunked with pieces of meat and okporoko. I’ll love to try something different next time; perhaps boiled yams cooked in a broth of spiced chicken. Our Christmas menus require extra polishing; necessary creativity.

Three. The wise men had a fourth gift. Hallelujah! There was gold, myrrh, frankincense. Then there was love, a burning desire in their eyes, driving them to search for the born king. I think it’s one of the essence of the season. Finding and expelling love is necessary. Wake up smiling. Show some love to children, and the beggars and needy. It should start within, within the single geography of your heart. Show it in a little way. Christmas should be a beautiful thing, a colourful thing clapping within our bellies.

A fourth one.

I love sleeping bare chest, unscathed by the cold, dusty winds. I hope lasts forever.


  1. Intriguing!!! Oh I love, I love, I love. This is brilliant and the images i
    t leaves are wonderful. Good one

  2. The wise men had a fourth

    This is worth the read.

  3. I Love this and I love the Fourth Gift; Love.