By Wendy Tan
The Christmas season is here! Woohoo! Not! I will get to why I am not so enthusiastic later. First, let me deal with the ‘woohoo!’ part of the Christmas season. When I was growing up, Christmas holidays were the best holidays ever.
We used to have a sort of countdown to December 1 when the Christmas tree would be put up, complete with tinsel and cotton wool (to mimic snow, which we only saw on the TV).
The Christmas tree was a tradition on its own because even going out to get one was an exercise we all looked forward to. I grew up in Kericho, that green, wonderful place where the air is crisp and sweet in the morning, just as in the evening, sigh...
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Anyway on the Christmas tree finding day, we would all troop to our watchman, called Marisoi and stand before him with twinkly, expectant eyes. Now Marisoi had been around forever.
I found him when I started walking. He had been with us for eternity so he was like our grandfather. Marisoi would do his equivalent of fondly rolling his eyes, then get up, pick up his very sharp panga and we would follow him to find a tree good enough to chop (don’t kill me all you environmentalists; we were young plus those trees were so many, I’m sure someone replanted them anyway).
After cutting down the tree, he would half drag, half carry it home for us as we followed him jumping up and down with joy.
Meanwhile, mum would be at home filling a huge bucket with enough sand to support the tree in the living room. The decorating would begin and finally when the lights were strung up and bits of cotton thrown on, we would all sit back and look at our handiwork with joy.
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Even my dad seemed to enjoy these moments, albeit guardedly. Afterwards, we would count down to the festivities, where there would always be relatives around. A goat would always be slaughtered and there would be an endless supply of soda. Our Christmas tree would stay up till mid January. Now that was Christmas.
Fast-forward to the present where Christmas has been highly commercialised and it’s just my luck that I am a parent in this era. I never thought dad had to spend money to buy goats, new clothes, sodas and food.
It all sort of magically appeared on the back of his pick-up truck. Now I know he must have planned and saved for all that because I have had to do that.
Luckily, my babies are still little and are yet to grasp the commercialisation of Christmas, but because of my upbringing, I am under personal pressure to make their Christmas just as memorable as mine.
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So the Christmas tree must come up, even if it’s plastic and supermarket-bought with bent branches thanks to poor packaging. And the trips to the bank are more frequent as money seems to just disappear.
Christmas is indeed a beautiful time, but still a stressful time for the ones paying to make it worthwhile. Anyway, have a merry Christmas and remember to build good memories; they don’t have to bankrupt you, though.
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