It is the eve of Christmas day once more. This is probably the single largest holiday that is celebrated across the world. Even in many jurisdictions where the Christian faith is not practised, there are forms of gifting’s and celebrations that happen.
It would appear the commercial interests have overtaken the essence of the season. Growing up in the village in the 1980s, we lived the whole year waiting for Christmas. It was the only chance to get to own a new dress outside the school uniform; that is, if one was lucky to get a replacement of the heavily patched uniforms.
Many of the commonplace foods popular today all-year round across the Kenyan diverse cultures were mostly only available on Christmas. A majority of the dot.com and the digital generation will never understand some of these experiences that only legends of our time can relate with. But the wheels of development dictate that a society can never grow in reverse.
Therefore, no one can blame any generation for enjoying the lifestyles of their time in favour of the old ones, good or bad. In fact for them, those stories are not relatable. For many people, it is not just the Xmas festivities but a celebration of the gift of an added year in life and many days of toil to make a living.
Unfortunately in our current state as a nation, these have been difficult economic times. Folks spread across at least 20 counties are battling a severe famine with several households absolutely unable to put a single meal on the table. To them, there are no celebrations to talk of except to wonder whether they are children of a lesser God.
In today’s article I detour from hard macro-economic numbers to the soft side of economics at the micro unit. Ordinarily, festive seasons are great times for policymakers as the generosity of the moment gets reflected on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The spike in spending is so significant that economists have to adjust for seasonality effects around festive periods when tracking trends in GDP.
Besides the official stats, the season is of enormous individual socio-economic benefits. Here I share five things to do that can help improve our individual and societal welfare.
One, take the time out of work to rest. For majority of the workforce, the 12-month period is always a rat race to make deals or earn this or that amount of money. A majority of folks are juggling between their main work and side hustles for that extra coin. Unfortunately, many people never get the time to rest their minds and body. There is extensive empirical and psychological evidence that one of the greatest means of enhancing your individual productivity is letting the body have adequate rest on a routine basis.
As it turns out, the human body was designed to operate optimally only when alternating between moments of intensive concentration and relaxation. For instance, my experience has been that to sustain this column every week, I have learned to deliberately take sufficient rest to reflect between one article and the next.
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Trust me, the ideas flow like a flood after taking an adequate rest. If you belong to the category of essential service providers that must work to keep the rest of us going, then purpose to take your deserved rest shortly after. That way, you shall be able to optimise your productivity in 2023. There is enough literature on this subject. As it turns out, rest is at the heart of economics.
Two, extend your love and kindness to not only your loved ones, but also strangers. Over the recent years, I have nurtured a habit of paying slightly more for goods and services, especially when the providers are the so-called hustlers. Often, I greet a security guard with as little as Sh50 as I pull out of a parking lot. When I use ‘bodas’ or Uber, I mostly remember to add a few coins just to buy them a cup of tea. If there is something I have learned from these random acts of generosity, it is that sometimes it is those small things that matter most in live.
So in this season of Christmas, I pray as many of us may take time to go out of our way to extend some love to someone; not for photos to post on social media like the politicos do, but just to be a blessing to someone. Your act of kindness maybe the only Christmas a fellow country man or woman may have for the season.
Three, is to be nice to others in your interactions over the festivities – this season comes with a lot of travels and crowding in most places across the country. It does not matter whether you are within a family set-up, an entertainment joint or on the road. The natural human instinct is to fight for priority attention from service providers, overlap on the roads and some to eat more than we need simply because there are many parties flying around.
One of the greatest self-love anyone can demonstrate is to be nice to others, especially when in places that are competitive or crowded. Hidden behind the competition for survival behaviour is a great opportunity to build your social capital. Sometimes you do not even need to ever get to know what their names are, all they need do is pass a thank you nod for your being nice to them.
Four is to be deliberate in your spending to support local businesses in the places you choose to travel to. For most of us, we spend the largest part of the year within our urban dwellings. This means our income is mostly spent within the cities and thus fuelling the economic disparities between the urban, peri-urban and our rural villages from which we come.
Often, the temptation is very high to imagine doing your Christmas shopping in the big towns is cheaper or makes you look cool. In fact, across social media jokes abound of how ‘we’ the urbanites take a pretentious sense of coolness to the annoyance of our rural-based folks. As a champion of devolved system of governance, I dare suggest that we spare a budget to shop from the shopkeepers within our villages. There are enough scriptures that admonish us to remember our humble beginnings.
Finally, take time to admire and appreciate nature and her wonderful creations. When is the last time you took an aimless nature walk? Or sat outside at night to admire the moon and the stars without thinking of anything in particular? Sometimes I imagine we have become such a corrupt and corruptible society for lack of appreciating the abundance and the beautiful land that nature has graciously gifted unto us.
From this desk I say Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday