Taking my brain on a ride down memory lane, I am reminded of a beautiful aspect of my childhood, the Christmas eve. This was a day for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and every Christian and relatives of Christians were happy and excited about it. People did away with their frowning faces and replaced them with happy smiling faces. The excitement was so infectious that even the gloomiest person on earth would have found something to be happy and excited about. The struggles of the year were quickly pushed to the back of the people’s minds, as people prepared to usher in yet another Christmas, which was always expected to be better than that of the previous year.
During those good old days, people seemed to tightly embrace the Christmas spirit, whole heartedly. Generosity knew no bounds. Sharing of goodies with the less fortunate was the norm. The less fortunate would receive clothing and foodstuffs from the well to do in the society.
“James.” A woman would call her son. “Please take this bag of rice to Mama John and ask her if she may need anything else.”
“Yes mother.” The child would pick the goods immediately and gallop excitedly towards the less fortunate neighbour’ s house.
The mission over, the son would return home happily.
“What did Mama John say?” the mother would ask her son, just to make sure that the goods reached their destination.
“She said thank you and may God bless you.” The son would reply.
Buying new clothes was the order of the day. It was almost compulsory not by law, but by necessity, that every child should have a new pair of clothes, currently in fashion. Nobody knew where this rule came from but it was religiously adhered to. Many are the children who refused to attend the church service because they did not have new clothes. A child would find it practically impossible to attend the church service without new clothes. Putting on old clothes attracted disapproving looks from their peers.
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A number of livestock, especially healthy looking ones would suffer on the Christmas Eve. Chicken, goats, sheep and even to the largest bulls were not spared. In fact it was only the livestock, who had no reason to celebrate Christmas, but that was the price they had to pay to make the human being a happy creature.
Drinks would be bought, Soft drinks for children and hard stuff for the grownups. Traditional brew would be served in abundance, but only to adults. In fact many children waited eagerly for their turn to become adults in order to also partake of the traditional brew. They were fascinated by this drink which made sane adults develop temporary insanity and epileptic tendencies.
Dancing was the order of the day. People would dance themselves to exhaustion. Women and men alike would work extremely hard in an attempt to outdo one another in shaking their bottoms. Even those belonging to the older generation, who could not dance anymore, because of weakening bones, tried to move any parts of their anatomies, as long as it looked like dancing. More often than not, the songs played did not reflect the theme of the Christmas celebrations. People seemed not to understand the reason for Christmas or if they understood, then they did not care. Of course they would still go to church the following day, but just for the sake of it.
At around evening hours, just after sunset, when the darkness replaces day and the moon takes over from the sun, an adventurous boy would be seen chasing after some innocent girl, with the aim of satisfying his raging hormones. By this time, most adults would be so intoxicated that they would not have the strength to reprimand such behavior. In fact, they would be staggering all over the place and singing all manner of songs. Others would switch from speaking mother tongue to English.
“I used to drive Lord Delamare’ s car.” One would tell his friend.
“Nonsense,” his friend would reply, “Don’t you know that I was the personal assistant to the Governor?”
In other words, everyone would try to speak in a manner to suggest that they are very important people and should be held in high esteem.
No one would have dared to sleep early on such a day. More often than not the weather would be favourable, with people having harvested their crops. The moon would be full and around it would be a galaxy of stars, dancing excitedly. Curious children searched carefully in the sky, with the hope of spotting the bright star, which guided the wise men from the east. Of course, most of those children would be wondering how the same child would be born on the same date, every year. Most could not comprehend the concept of birthday celebrations.
Young men and women would be seen walking around holding hands and it was not surprising that one or two girls would get pregnant during this season. With the Christmas celebrations taking place in December, most of the fruits of mischief engaged in during that period, under the cover of darkness, would be harvested in late September and early October. By then, most of the young men responsible for the pregnancies would be no where within easy reach.
The smell of sweet aroma would accompany the smoke wafting through the air, from countless homes, a sign that the women were busy cooking. The smell of the food would announce that, on that particular day, people were deviating from the usual menu. I mean, who in his or her right state of mind would tolerate eating Ugali and Sukuma wiki on Christmas Eve? The same meal which most households were now rejecting was the same meal they thankfully consumed throughout the year. It was no wonder that most poshomills remained closed throughout the festive season. More and more animals would die for that was the price they had to pay, because of the pleasures and happiness of mankind.
Children would be all over the place, playing one game after the other, under the cover of darkness. They would run after one another, wrestle with one another and even go ahead to sing with joy. They would thank God for such a special day. Though most children did not understand much about the reason for celebrating Christmas, most of them were happy about the good fortunes which would accompany the celebrations. New clothes, new food and new toys. What more could they ask for? That to them, was more than enough.
Adults would also not be left behind. Many would do crazy things as a result of intoxication with alcohol. They would sing, curse and sing again. Some would hurl insults at one another, to hurt each other’ s ego, but no one had the time to get annoyed. In fact the insults attracted more laughter than annoyance, something which was contrary to everyone’s expectations. This was attributed to the fact that people were too happy to engage in any fights which would spoil the mood of the celebrations.
Old men would rack their brains, in a bid to remember and share the stories about their past victories. They would tell of how they conquered their wives, how powerful they were, the great strength and wealth they had. Even the poorest and the weakest of them all had something to boast about.
At the wee hours of the night, people would retire to bed, with so much exhaustion. Most of the drunken adults would stagger all the way home. Those who were too drunk would either be helped back to their homes or would sleep at the venue of the party. They would rest as they waited for daybreak, because the eve of Christmas day, meant that the party was just beginning.