I remember offices closing for the holidays and workers getting extended breaks to enjoy the festive season. What usually followed were droves leaving the city for their ancestral homes where big feats were held.
I’ve always been a Christmas enthusiast, except this year as I said last week. There’s way too much cruelty and I’d feel guilty having a good time when many elsewhere are facing immense trials.
I seem to have company though, in the form of people who have either cut back on their Christmas traditions or given up celebrating altogether for various reasons. No doubt Christmas is still a big deal in many communities but you can’t help noticing the changing trends. Growing up, I remember festivities that started well before Christmas and lasted long after. I remember offices closing for the holidays and workers getting extended breaks to enjoy the festive season. What usually followed were droves leaving the city for their ancestral homes where big feats were held.
One of my favourite memories is my mother making these tasty dishes since she didn’t have to rush off to work and in the evenings, she would take us to the local church where we would watch the choir rehearsing for the Christmas service and concert. I loved the Christmas Carols, still do, and my mum even tried to get me into the Children’s Choir back then but I just couldn’t find my voice.
The other fixture we treasured was the Christmas tree, a pine in all its natural glory. We loved decorating our tree with everything from balloons to cotton balls and bits of coloured toilet paper. There may not have been any presents under our tree but we loved it, posing for pictures in front of it and only letting it go on New Year’s Eve when tradition demanded it had to be burnt at midnight.
Today, everybody I know goes for a plastic tree, myself inclusive. To be honest, they’re less messy and once you figure out how to put your ‘fake’ tree up, the rest is easy. Just throw some Tinsel around it, add a couple of Christmas balls and lights and you’re done. Plus, you get to keep the tree for the following year, at least I do.
All this convenience however doesn’t match the excitement of old times. I remember the joy of sending and receiving Christmas cards. My Mum took me along to pick out cards for close friends and relatives. She paid attention to the designs and words on each card, ensuring that the message was appropriate for each recipient. People don’t send Christmas cards any more, thanks to e-cards and SMS. As with the tree, they’re faster and cheaper to send but they lack that personal touch.
I tried something this year. I wanted to see if anyone I know would send me a Season’s Greetings email or SMS without me sending one first. No one did, not even the Network providers who usually bombard us with Christmas messages. I’m still in shock. Perhaps the biggest indicator that the significance of Christmas is waning lies in being given just one day off compared to last year when we got three, 24th, 25th and 26th! We’re not in the service industry so I didn’t understand the urgency for us to return to work. On top of that, there was no salary advance. You know how most employers advance December salaries early, well, there was nothing like that for us this time and at first I thought there would be a ‘riot’ but surprisingly, everybody was calm. Some even reasoned that Christmas is just an excuse to overspend and they’re better off saving their money for January when there will be school fees and a string of other bills to pay.
To be continued…