Christmas day is just another hustle and grind day for me

Irene Mbaya - Radio Producer, Radio Maisha

While you indulge and make merry over Christmas, for others, it will be just another day of grind and toil

Samuel Ondimu Ngare, a policeman based on the Kenya- Ethiopia border

Christmas for me is not a celebration. I will be at work like any other day providing security at the border. This is actually the time I am most needed at my job. My wish is that I could have been with my family, but since I am called to serve, I choose to sacrifice that.

I married a very understanding wife who takes care of things at home despite being far away especially over the festive season. My daughters call to ask if I’ll be going home for Christmas. I don't lie to them.  I am trying my best to see if I can go home over the New Year’s but it’s not a guarantee. I could still be at work then.

There is no special compensation for being at work over the festive season; it is normal work day just like any other. Unless well-wishers give something as a token of appreciation, everything is the same. Since I was employed in 2003, I have only celebrated Christmas twice with my family, which makes it 13 Christmases at work.

Christmas used to be a big deal when I was much younger. My favourite foods were chapatti, mandazi and the Treetop juice. Now I try to give back to the community. I serve in Turkana County, in a sub-county called Kibish which borders the Ethiopian border by 3KM. There are about 16 orphans who lost their parents to cattle rustling. I will spend my time with them and also the aged. I saved the money I could have otherwise used travelling home and topped it up with contributions from supportive friends on Facebook. I will buy a goat, some rice and other accompaniments and we will make a feast out of it. This is my first Christmas in Kibish, all those other Christmases I was posted in Nairobi where I celebrated them with the streetchildren there.

Joel Ogwando, a medical doctor

It is quite normal for a doctor to be at work over Christmas, there will always be people who need medical services, and actually there are more injury casualties over this festive season than usual.

I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything by working then. It is a responsibility I took when I was choosing to pursue medicine, being at work on a holiday is not a surprise to me.

That said, it would be nice to catch up with other people over this period because that is when most people travel back home from different places. The New Year celebration actually makes much more sense to me than Christmas, if I had a chance I would take time off then.  Christmas Day will be full day for me.   Later on, I will take time off to rest.

My ideal Christmas meal would be Kienyeji chicken with rice. If I am to treat myself, I will have that at home. Growing up, I loved going for prayers in the morning then coming back home to have chapatti which I always looked forward to. Christmas meant something for me then than it does now. I now prefer the New Year to Christmas.

Irene Mbaya - Radio Producer, Radio Maisha

Christmas for me will be a normal working day, well, fewer hours. It is part of my job to be here to oversee things to run smoothly. For instance there are programs and properties that have to be produced live and done on real time. The only interesting thing will be that I will have to come with my son to work then we can go out for lunch after that. He is actually looking forward to it, because he likes it when I bring him to the office with me.

My favourite memory of Christmas has always been going home; everything about it including the struggle to go to ‘shags’ was part of the joy without forgetting the feasting. Well prepared chicken was and still remains to be my preferred Christmas delicacy over the years and nyama choma comes a close second.

Working over Christmas has its perks. The roads are clear and it is quiet and overall easy to maneuver anywhere. I don’t mind working over Christmas. Actually, since I began working at my current job,  a couple of years now,  I have been on the Christmas shift except when I was on maternity leave.

If I work over Christmas, I do not have to work over the New Year. I love celebrating New Years at home and with family. I like to start the new year with people at home or even in church. Being away from work on For the last two years, it is also because my son has been going to school, I like being able to conveniently take him to school without the hustle of taking  work breaks here and there.

Joel Jamini, a driver

Working over Christmas has its advantages, for instance, cost. The fares are very high during this time so I will travel when the fares are cheaper. This has been one of the ways I have saved money that is better used in  January. This also means there is no traffic and everything gets done and people get to their destinations on time without traffic delays.

I have always spent my time here in Nairobi with my family over the holidays and  On Christmas day, I go to work and come back home just like any other day. That has been the case for 10 years now.  But we do make up for it over the  Easter holiday where we take a trip somewhere.

When we get a break over the holidays,  we buy some goodies and visit Thomas Barnados Children's Home and spend some time with the little ones there. My children love that and look forward to it. They even sort out some of their personal belongings like clothing and shoes to take to the little tots. When indulging in these celebrations we should also always strive to share with other people.

Dickson Lucas Someke , head chef

Ever since I got employed as a chef 11 years ago, I have not spent any Christmas Day with my family. There is a lot of work to be done in the hotel and restaurant business over Christmas through to the New Year. It is almost a universal thing for most chefs to be at work during that time. During the festive season I also do not go out partying because I need to function at my optimum best to lead my team, so even on Christmas day I will just head home and rest after work.

To make up for lost time, I will go home sometime during the year during my off days and visit my family.  For me, any time I am with family is a celebration. I have never felt like I am missing out while working on holidays because I love my job. It helps me have an income which sustains my family and that fulfills me. I have therefore never resented being at work over Christmas or any other holiday.

Many accidents also occur during this time so I do not like travelling over the holidays or even having my family travel during that time.

If my family was with me I would make them my favourite meals; some paneer and chicken makhani (butter chicken).

Moses Wakhisi, sports anchor

Working over Christmas is a norm; I have been on the Christmas shift for four years now. It got to a point I do not feel like I am missing out. There are a couple of other people working over Christmas too and even the New Year.

I prefer working on Christmas Day over New Year because even the office has a  festive mood over Christmas holidays. New Year comes with some seriousness and when I come back to work after the break I get then, I come back focused and energetic. I visit my family on New Year. I have especially missed mum.

For the last two Christmases here at work, I have hosted lunch for some of my colleagues since my house is a little distance away from the office. Sometimes I will order a meal, get my colleagues over, we eat and then get back to the office where we carry on our work as usual.

What makes Christmas special for me is the feeling that comes with it. Celebrating the birth of Christ, going to church, eating and partying with family is a great feeling.