Christmas; the time we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, he will be clocking 2009 years. Yes, I say ‘he will be’ because he is still alive. Yo, I think he is grey haired up there in heaven.
As someone who grew up in ‘outside countries’, usually when it is coming around December (others start as early as October), the air is filled with Christmas.
The carols, the decorum, jingle bells, Santa Klaus and big time shopping.
But I am now starting to doubt whether Rwandans really like Jesus as they say. I mean, if we really go to church every Sunday and we recite his name a million times, then how come we don’t celebrate Christmas that much?
Well, now that we have joined the Commonwealth, I hope in the years to come, we will borrow a leaf from our neighbours and learn how to take Christmas festivities seriously. First of all, I think celebrating only New Year’s Day denies some of the fun-loving Rwandans an extra day to indulge themselves.
Christmas however is not only a day to reflect on life or one’s faith but it is also a day to join family and friends to celebrate together, feast and share memories. It is a time to re-bond with family, for those that work away from their families and a time to rewind.
I remember back in the day, Christmas really mattered. Falling sick towards Christmas or rain falling on Christmas Day was one of the worst nightmares. As kids, nothing spoilt Christmas like rain or a funeral, so we would pray that all goes well until the day passes and we would be grateful to the mighty Lord.
Christmas meant that Mum and Dad had to plan earlier for a new pair of shoes and clothes or Christmas would be ruined. There is a time Dad brought me shoes, he hadn’t known that my feet had grown a little bigger while he was away on national duties.
So he brought this new shiny pair of “Joseph’s” (remember these shoes?) and a brand new shirt and a pair of trousers (they were called Tokyo). The first time I put the shoes on, they kind of fitted, because I never wanted to imagine that they were not fitting me.
Christmas day came, I pressed my shirt and trouser very well, got a new pair of stockings and put on my crystal polished shoes, ready to go to church. Half way through the short journey I was starting to feel the pinch in my undersized shoes but I would not dare tell Mum.
I knew she would say ‘pass them on to whoever could fit in’ but I wouldn’t just pass on my prized assets just like that, maybe after Christmas. I persisted amidst the pain, reached church and I stealthily removed them and put them under the bench.
I could not stand where need be as church summons always be, I never wanted to soil my otherwise clean socks. I stayed seated all through and I am sure the Reverend was wondering what was wrong with me.
All this time I was thinking about going back home and the pain. By the time I reached home, my feet were already scalded by the synthetic rubber material the shoes were made of.
It was a burning feeling, I could not wait to free my feet from the once adored pair of shoes which by now were like furnaces. I swear I was dying but thinking about passing them over to one of those village good-for-nothing boys (since I was the last born), made me reason otherwise.
Finally my Mum came to know that I was dying softly, she immediately ordered me to remove them there and then and passed them on to one of the neighbours’ kids playing football nearby (they hadn’t even gone to church).
He looked very surprised and excited (talk about Christmas surprises) as he walked back home assuring his Dad how Jesus performed another miracle, throwing him a pair of new expensive shoes.
Meanwhile the Dad was munching away on 3 Kilos of meat (he used to buy 10 Kgs of meat for his family on Christmas but not one kilo during the course of the year).
While all this was happening, I wasn’t amused at all. In fact I was about to go and sleep through Christmas, not until during lunch time that my mum warned me never to be selfish in life. “Give things you will not use to other people that would need them,” she said.
Nevertheless, I boycotted all the evening proggies and went to bed after lunch. I missed out on the film about Jesus shown at church that evening, the walks, the visits and the family parties. My Christmas was ruined.