Here is my third #12daysofparenting blog; day 3 is all about how parenthood changed the Christmas holidays, as you might know if you hopped from Mummies Waiting. There are lots of fab prizes to win, check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.
This is my 2nd Christmas holiday as a mother and it’s a different feel from how it used to be. I find myself caring more about what we should do, and the issues of meaning and significance. These are part of the parenting cares that have gradually crept into the forefront of my mind in recent years.
What a far cry from how Christmas holidays used to be for me.
I can’t remember when the word or idea of ‘Christmas’ entered my vocabulary and consciousness. However, I remember that the end of the year was a festive time when I was growing up in my little West African town. The Christmas break was fantastic; it was more than time off school. You couldn’t miss the festive feel in the air if you tried.
It was definitely a time of giving and receiving and a time to make some money whilst dropping off gifts from my father to his friends. I was only allowed to do this when I was a teenager and it was such fun. What Christmas was really about wasn’t my concern, its religious significance wasn’t relevant as such in our non-Christian household, and definitely not to me as a child.
It was a time when my father and his other well to do friends reached out to each other beyond business. We received live Turkeys, Chickens, and even Rams. Sometimes it was a huge portion of a Goat or Cow, or a massive bag of rice, a big keg of vegetable oil, or / and cartons of different kinds of non-alcoholic drinks. My dad also sent out gifts like these. So you can imagine how full of food our house used to be at those times.
I remember evening visits to one of our Christian family friends, where we enjoyed really yummy food like jollof or/and fried rice, chicken, and fried plantain. Oh, those were lovely days; walking leisurely in our quiet neighbourhood to our friends … excellent food, fun chats, fab company.
And my, the full house around this time. All my half siblings came home from uni, and a host of cousins and other relatives whose family connections were unknown to me, were usually about. They came home / visited at other times of the year but Christmas was the fullest the house was. All these meant more entertainment, more gossip, more hustle and bustle, more opportunities for the younger children to get away with … ‘murder’. 🙂
It was also a time when you got sent on errands the most by all the grown ups around, and I hated this. I especially appreciated my mum and us having our own separate flat in our massive compound; and indeed having my own room, as my mother’s only daughter. It was a fab hiding place, and it offered me plenty of chances to avoid being seen when I really didn’t want to be.
And oh, the clothes … we always got new clothes during key festivals. I especially miss going to the tailor and choosing the style I wanted from their catalogue. How I miss the opportunities to design my own clothes, and get measured for attires that fitted perfectly.
Yeah, those Christmases were easy peasy chilled out times, with little care (in hindsight). They were times when everyone let their hair down and folks were less uptight. I mingled most with my older half siblings during this time of the year, and got to see lots of the posh and beautiful children of the rich and famous of our town.
This was how it was for most of my childhood, until relationships gradually soured and dwindled, and the retreat of attempts to connect began.
Teens and twentys Christmases
Christmas was different when I moved to London in my late teens. It was much smaller, less loud, very cold, and really cosy … well, very cold outside and usually warm and nice inside. How it felt depended on where I was each year.
I remember 2 Christmases with some extended family that I’d recently gotten to know, at that point. They were a lovely bunch to hang out with. I remember their children getting so many presents, way too many for my liking. I remember deciding then that it wasn’t a ‘thing’ I wanted if I ever have children. Firstly, I couldn’t fathom the expense it must have involved buying the latest toy for every child in a large family, and secondly, I questioned its value for the buyer and receiver.
My most memorable Christmases are with my very dear God-given friend in the Midlands, and her lovely extended family and friends. They sure do know how to throw a good party, with lots of quality food, banter, and company. It was definitely a lovely time for a young girl far away from ‘home’; a multicultural and intellectual affair. There were lots of reminiscing about Nigeria before my time, and political discussions with those much wiser than me.
I tried to adopt the tradition of Christmas cards during my university years but it just didn’t work for me.
However, I enjoyed the lights on the high streets, that was definitely different from what I was used to at the time.
Cusp of motherhood Christmases
Up until about 3 years ago, I was relatively indifferent to Christmas. It was just part of the time of the year, I didn’t choose it and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I responded to it in relation to those around me and that was that.
After I became a Christian, it became a bit more meaningful to me; Jesus afterall is said to be the reason for the season. However, what I consider the fluff – the result of its immense commercialisation – of Christmas bogs me down. I find it too time consuming, too meaningless, too wasteful, and too expensive.
The restful festive time that Christmas had been all these years was all of a sudden inadequate for my new parenthood status. My mostly laissez-faire approach to it felt too lacking for what I want for my child. Listening to David Pawson’s talk about Christmas, last year, didn’t help matters. If anything, it challenged me to be clearer about my thoughts on Christmas and its celebration.
I am not embracing Christmas and its trimmings just because I have a child and it would be cruel not to as I’ve been told by some. I am on a long pause of consideration about what it means to my hubby and I and what of this we want to share with our child.
This means, no Christmas tree, angel (my code word), decorations, or presents at ours … no reference to Santa and all it involves … like it’s been for years now, for us, really. It also means no sidestepping of its importance anymore like before. I’m taking my time though, with thinking through it. I’m thankful that my child is still young and is oblivious to it; this gives us time to decide our stance on Christmas.
So thanks to becoming a parent, my fun and carefree Christmas holidays, are now more thoughtful and considered, albeit still fun.
Thanks for hanging out here, check out My Thoughts on Things for more musings on Christmas past, and entries into the grand prize draw.
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