Growing up as a child, we were always looking forward to the holiday.
After our exams, we would usually have a Christmas party in school and afterwards, the long holidays or “the main, the main Christmas” as we always called it.
We always put in extra effort in that term’s exam because we knew we could not afford to fail because failure would mean forfeiting the goodies that were coming i.e. Christmas clothes, shoes, wrist watch, balloons, sun shades and knockouts, the special Christmas rice, chicken and of course money.
As Christmas day drew nearer, we would be filled with excitement and our eyes were always quick to notice the bags our parents brought into the house. In the few days leading up to Christmas, if no activity had been seen, we would get worried and will wait up all night till both mom and dad are back from work just to see what they were going to bring in.
A day to Christmas, which is popularly called the “watch night”, was the last day for us to be sure our Christmas was going to be special. By now we would have seen our Christmas clothes and the live chickens waiting to be eaten.
By then, the joy in our hearts would know no bounds. We would brag to our neighbours that our Christmas was going to be special. We would even take them to see our chickens where they were tied to the ground in the backyard. And when night falls, we would collect money from our father to go and buy fireworks or knock-outs as they were called.
Most families in my estate didn’t go to bed early on Christmas eve, hence why it was called the “watch-night.” The street will be filled with people, adults and children doing one activity or the other.
The adults were most times out there, just to be on the look-out for their kids that were having fun. We always stayed past our bed-time. And when it was 12 am and we had ushered in Christmas Day with loads of shouting “Merry Christmas” and thunderous knock-outs, we were shooed in to go and sleep with the assurance that the celebration would continue later on in the day.
The joy in my stomach always kept me awake as well as the sound of people that were still outside having fun, but I would drift off into sleep before I knew it.
On Christmas morning, we would wake up to the aroma of food, I still don’t know what time my mom woke up to prepare all that food. One thing for sure is that every Christmas morning, you will wake up to the aroma of breakfast and most times, it is either bread, eggs, sausages and tea or yam, eggs and tea.
We would run to the bathroom to take our bath with so much excitement to see what clothes and shoes we would be wearing to church. After we were done dressing up, we would go to the dining to have breakfast and then go to church. We always stepped out of the house in dramatic ways so that our neighbours could see us in our all our brand new clothes.
In church, everyone would be looking their best and our utmost concern would be how to show off our things to our friends. At the end of the service, we would go back home and knowing it will soon be time for that special Christmas rice and chicken. We the little children would gather around the television to watch the movies showing while we waited for that call that food was ready. The rice on Christmas day was always sweeter while the chicken was always big and was washed down with chilled cold soft drinks. After we were done eating, we would still hover around the television to catch up on more entertaining programs.
Later in the day, friends and relatives would come to pay us a visit and we would look forward to when they were leaving because that’s when they usually drop our Christmas money. Mom always had a way of collecting most of our loot but she’d leave us with something substantial enough to buy candy, chewing gum and more knock-outs when we go out to play with our friends. When mom would finally call it a day and it was time to go to bed, we would miss Christmas day already.