Starting New Family Christmas Traditions
Christmas really is my favourite time of the year. Growing up in Nigeria, we had a different kind of Christmas. Obviously it was warm, though I've come to prefer the cold Christmas and often wish for snow but it rarely happens where I live. It also involved family visits, wearing uniform outfits mostly sewn from Ankara, travelling several hours by road from the city to the village, feasts including lots of chin-chin, malt drinks, peppersoup, jollof rice, assorted meats and so much more. I'm sure many of my Nigerian fam will recognise this kind of Christmas.
When we moved from Nigeria we had to start making new family traditions, which was hard initially. No extended family and friends to feast with. No chance we could dress up in Ankara outfits without throwing heavy coats over them unless we wanted to freeze to death. So we got a tree and wrapped some presents and ate lunch at the table but we never really got into the (permit me to call it) western way of doing things. Santa who? from south where? came through what chimney how? Not to say that Christmas Trees and Santa Claus aren't part of Christmas in Nigeria but when I was a child they weren't really a big part of our celebrations. In fact, I distinctly remember one time we got a real Christmas Tree and not quite knowing how to care for it, it withered away right before our eyes before we were able to decorate it. And so we spent most of my teenage christmases neither here nor there. Neither warm nor snowed in. Neither in Africa nor in Europe. Our own family's version of Christmas, which I absolutely came to adore and really miss. A Christmas full of laughter with just my daddy, mummy and two brothers.
Then I moved (again) to Britain, got married and now raising my own kids and I started to think; what kind of Christmas traditions do I want to start with them? I know for sure it'll be a multicultural affair with mince pies and meat pies. I hope it'll be warm with love, peace and joy. I hope that our children will always know the real reason for the season, the birth of our Lord Jesus. I hope that we can afford to buy special presents. I hope that they'll appreciate and cherish them. I sincerely hope that it'll be an awesome time and they'll have many fond memories like I do.
I started a Christmas card photo tradition with my son two years ago. I am so pleased and blessed that there are two kids in the photo this year. I can't wait to share with you all on Christmas Day. Other traditions we've started this year include going to Christmas parties and visiting Santa. I thought my son would be scared but he wasn't. We will also go caroling at the village church on Christmas Eve, have Christmas breakfast, unwrap presents and read about Jesus. We will end the day with a feast in our home with my husband's family. A feast with lots of NIGERIAN jollof rice. I had to emphasise the Nigerian because I don't want any Ghanaians getting ideas (inside joke*).
I'm sure we'll start other traditions as our children grow. Maybe every year will be different. But I hope that every year is full of happiness for my family and for you all reading this. I know Christmas isn't a happy time for everyone and I pray for true joy for anybody feeling dejected this season.
Have a truly Merry Christmas!
*Ankara: African print fabric.
*Chin-Chin: Crunchy deep-fried snack.
* Peppersoup: Light spicy soup usually made with lots of meat or fish. My husband is pictured eating some above.
*Meat Pie: Nigerian snack closely resembling a Pasty or Empanada.
*Jollof Rice: West African one pot rice dish. The inside joke mentioned above is that there is a never ending contest between Nigerians and Ghanaians to determine who makes the better jollof rice. I've tried both and Nigerians win HANDS DOWN!