29 November 2012

A Village Christmas

I am dreaming of Christmas. Not the town one where all that happens is sitting up half the night on Christmas eve watching a movie on TV or for those that like going out, having an excess and coming home noisily the next morning.
 I enjoy most of my Christmas holidays back in the village. That just seems so right for many reasons. Growing up, I remember the excitement that came with Christmas. Right from the beginning of the month of December, plans were made for the big day. Parents did all they could to get new clothes for their kids. That special cockerel was assigned for the Christmas table. Sometimes it was a goat that faced the knife at Christmas.
As the day neared, the excitement would be palpable. Relatives would come to visit bearing gifts of all kinds. They usually brought along their kids who would stay several days before heading back. At times the favour was returned. To entertain our visiting cousins, we took them for walks in the fields and played in the open. It would be a tired team that would trudge home at dusk.
 A week to Christmas, there were singing groups that consisted of village youth who went around homesteads singing Christmas carols. They would come at night, do their thing and then await goodies from the home owner. Woe unto you if you did not come out of your warm bed to present them with a chicken or gift of sorts! For you would find your compound littered with smelly waste the following morning. I got to learn that the gifts would be put together for a Christmas Eve party for the youth.
 Talking about the Christmas Eve bash, this was every parent's nightmare. This was because it was the meeting point for the young boys and girls alone. The wise parent made sure their youth stayed in that night. It was there that the young ones went to try out their all night dancing skills. What followed was a number of girls being expelled from school due to pregnancy. The youth would hold these bashes in some open field somewhere in the light of a full moon. They carried with them one of those music players that would blare loud music. At intervals the music would stop and the bearer claim that the batteries were down. Those in attendance would then have to make some monetary contribution to keep the music running.
Christmas morning was a great time at the village back then. The children usually woke up to tantalising cooking smells from the family kitchen and last minute preparations for the big day. We had to get ready for the Christmas service on time to be able to secure a seat at the church. This was because of the unusually big crowds that would turn up including those who did not frequent church on other days. There would also be those that worked away in the towns that would be home for Christmas as well. With the schools being closed it seemed everyone was home for Christmas.
After the service, families retreated to their homes for the feast. It was a day that would find many people visiting one another at will. The goodwill on that day would be amazing. The message of love for mankind and new hope was well lived out on that day.
This time I will be going to the village for Christmas. It will be different though because times have changed. There will be no youth groups singing carols door to door. But the children will be at will to visit their cousins and play out in the fields. They will be more excited about spending time out of town than the delicacies that will come with the day. I expect to be roused from sleep, early Christmas morning by that old village woman that I have not seen whole of this year for her share of breakfast. In all, even if much has changed in the village Christmas will bring the usual cheer of sharing love with those around. That, is  a custom that has remained at my village of which I am truly proud.

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