|Photo from http://povertykayceen.blogspot.com|
But I had to also put that in action. However, it wasnt our poverty that finally stopped me in 1991, far from it. It was when I saw real poverty in the villages that what I call 'my poor home' turned to pass for luxury, though not of an outstanding luxury in any way.
In Nigeria then, traveling home - to the villages - was a nearly a norm for those of us living in the cities. My mother had not always afforded that mad rush and being who she was, did not really do enough to join the throng hence the understanding to not frenzy. Regardless, she sent us the kids home to the villages every once in a while during the school holidays to my aunts.
Those I observed in the villages had nothing to wear round the year, no money to pay for education, no food most days, all of which I had although out of a serious struggle by my mother. So when we got home that Christmas in 1991, the same families I have seen during the normal days of no Christmas who have no food or other basics of life were being drowned in food from city visitors.
I came to detest the entire parody of wealth, waste and self-indulgency which Christmas and end-of-year celebration has turned into. Obviously, I long for the real meaning of what it should be; based on the story of Jesus and be a display of his humility, unconditional love and above all, of service.
After that year in the village, I told my mother that I will never again travel home for the Christmas; however, I will visit there normally. As I grew up, I have brought that to bear on so many other things; from giving cards at Christmas to presents, except for young children, especially in their first year. But then, I give them presents round the year.
I do not celebrate Christmas. It has nothing to do with my lack of religion, but has a lot to do with my disagreement to a world of consumerism. I am happy to see people more light-hearted during the frenzy but I wish they could practice the same through the year.
Since my decision, I have learnt to write a simple 'thank you' letter to my friends and family at what they would call odd time of year or send them a little text out of the blues to say how much I love and appreciate them. For me, love shown without condition or worldly reason is the best love. To this end, I do not reciprocate Christmas presents and cards; no, I will not.
One more thing; I turned the tradition around when on my 30th birthday, I gave a card to my closest friends thanking them for being there for me. Round the year but on Christmas, I give gifts to people in outstanding ways that gets them to ask, 'why this'? But the secret objective lies in the fact they do identify themselves: I want you to love and show love unconditionally.
Why wait for Christmas when you do it under duress?