Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Nigerian Christmas

It is an unspoken custom here in Nigeria that the Christmas and New Year season spans from early December to early January.
Usually, it begins with boredom and anxiety as regards when the holidays will officially commence. Academic and Office work is usually at its lowest at this point. Everyone’s head is on zap-out-of-formality mode. ‘Fresh’ and expected. The Harmattan may or may not come- This year it was here for about two weeks in Port Harcourt and dashed away.
The next thing that follows is the official declaration in offices and schools that the vacation has begun. Yippy! The excitement. The thrill. Nostalgia and expectation clashing without minding. We now formally get into the holiday preparation mode.
Ok, at this point all roads leads to the ATM stands, open markets, malls, and online shops. Everyone is getting new stuff…building up our stash for the festivities. Mmmm, consequently, things get more expensive #law of demand and supply…more money pursuing less goods…Kapow! Inflation.

Following this, everyone hits the road and airways. While the urban areas get deserted, the rural areas with their clubs and joints suddenly get action packed. Festivities either, at this point, kick off officially or get more intense. Some more buying and selling take place. The women- and a few men- take the heat and stress of the market place. Most the bank accounts gradually slip from bullish to pink, and gradually headed for the red. Did I forget to mention that more people either get married, pregnant or both during this season?
On Christmas Day…Hmmmm. Oya commotion scatter. A good number of us sleep in, commit to the kitchen, or go to church. But one thing we all share is that by 6:00pm heaven receives the souls of over 700 chickens, without counting hens and chicks. Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, flirting, adultery, sex…so many things go down for the celebration of the birth of the New Born Prince of Peace.
Boxing Day is usually a day of recreation and relaxation. All the major joints are hot and crowded. But we still go anyway- who won carry last? 27th, 28th…we remember to send out good will texts and emails. All is well… love you…Merry Christmas. So much for Christmas. The season is still on.
By 30th, sanity gradually returns as alcohol and festivities lose their hold on us. We get sober enough to look at our credit alert SMS on our phones and do the math. While this happens, the second batch of ‘flexers’ who missed out on the Christmas gyration head out to catch up with the New Year action.
The last days of the year suddenly draw closer and everyone is running around to make sure that their lives are in perfect shape for the New Year. Some people get engaged, others break up. Some of us sanitize our phones- or temporarily keep them ‘clean’. Some of us bear out our grievances to clear the air; begin another relationship; confess our sins; return stolen items…. Simply we try to purge ourselves of our ‘Christmas’ spirit so that we can face the New Year.  
On New Year’s Eve we all run to church to walk in to the Next Level with God. Amazing. Guess what? God loves this. He loves that we come.
But the funny aspect of this is that afterwards, I catch some of us seated in one corner writing a rather long list of unrealistic New Year resolutions. 20...30...40 bullet points. The chances are that over 75% of this long list’s content are repetitions of the previous year’s ‘New Year Resolutions.’ Abegi, I no go lie, me too I follow for this crowd.
By 3rd January, sanity and gist storms Nigerian classrooms, offices and markets. The circle is complete. Nonetheless, it so happens that for a select few, nothing happened. Nothing was added to our lives, nothing was taken away either. For some, all was lost with the season. For some, reception was in leaps and bounds.
My point is that, this season is a string of such magical and extra-ordinary moments all laced together in the course of which absolutely anything can happen.
For 2013, our holidays are almost over. But if you haven’t touched the Season’s flower yet, you still have a few days left. Reach out to someone. Let yourself be touched by the carols, gifts, company and warmth of the season.
For me, one thing I enjoyed about this season is that I got so many hugs and added some weight.
I am sure there is something beautiful about the season for everyone. If there were not, it would not drive us crazy year after year.
It is still safe and politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Compliments of the Season’. Hug someone soon, cheer and be happy. Christmas will not be complete until you smile. Do not forget, primarily, Christmas is about love, happiness and nothing more. So, I truly believe that a lot can still happen for us in this season. You never know, perhaps the best is being saved for last.
So c’mon get out there and have a Merry Christmas.
Happy Holidays,