What a bittersweet holiday. It’s been amazing to be able to give, to receive, to continue to help those less fortunate, to deny little luxuries, while indulging in others. It’s been an immersion in the true meaning of Christmas, exploring Christ, continuing the walk, affirming oneself. Humbling oneself before Jesus and surrendering more, while being thankful for the spiritual development made.
This has been the most amazing year of my life, I feel like I’ve savoured it rather than it just blazing through. Like it’s about time it ended, and yet already nostalgic, and wishing I could relive some of the experiences that made it what it was.
But bringing all this to the context of today, it’s been bittersweet. I found out that my great-grandmother Maitu Bella passed away this morning. The word Maitu is a Kikuyu word that figuratively means ‘mother’ but since Cucu is grandmother, there’s no word for great-grandma, so it starts all over again. She was 92 years old. And she was amazing.
She still had all her teeth, dressed up every once in a while. She was physically fit, loved to stroll around, and would love to tell stories, or just kick it with you under a beautiful leaning tree in the front parking lot on her red chair, as she basked in the swaying rays of sun underneath the shade. Though old age had it’s effect on her, in some ways, with her suffering a stroke sometime back – she’d never exactly been the same – but she’d always been so much fun to be around. I consider it one of the greatest blessings bestowed upon me to be able to see, hang out, and interact with my great-grandma, and I’m happy she’s moved on. Happy for her because I’m sure of where she’s headed to. Knowing she had accepted Christ personally.
When I tell people that my shags or rural home is in South B – a popular suburb in the city – people get shocked, or think I’m joking. But it’s true. My grandparents, a pair of real town folk if there ever were some, have lived in South B since the 50’s or 60’s and my mother and siblings grew up there. They also have made some developments around their land, some 4-storey flats being their best achievement. I come over ever other week to chill, they have a great spot for me there that’s real nice, and they are fantastic company to be with. There’s little goings on in this city that’s news to them.
Besides Maitu Bella’s passing on ,there was also the 17 year old tradition fulfilled this year. My mother’s side of the family goes to the Railway Club at the Railway Station here in Nairobi for lunch every year. And I’ve never been more glad to celebrate tradition than I was today. It was amazing, I felt a part of something great, being there and having the same meal – the buffet – for 17 years might sound old hat, but it enchants me.
To see family, cousins and relatives I hadn’t seen in a while, others visiting, and being able to share that meal with them was a blessing. To reminisce over times we’d fought in the past, us younger ones, or times we were disciplined for something someone did. Or even over how my cousin would always ask for tomato sauce and whether they had chips, everywhere they went. From how I can’t get enough of their croquette potatoes.
Besides that there’s what happens the night before that really tells you it’s Christmas. For as long as I can remember, My Tata always would have a great dinner on Christmas Eve. All of my Dad’s family would sit outside on the patio, with all the creepers crawling down its sides, and make merry under the stars. She’d make stuffed turkey, pork, grated carrots peppered with raisins and honey, salads and do not get me started on the desserts. Just rich, lip-licking, overindulgence under the stars. And afterwards, there’s the familiar sugarcane, and sweet bananas from my Dad’s shags to ease our already full stomachs.
It was so funny this time, I was with cousins outside at around midnight and everyone was so drowsy from all the eating, and we were all cracking up from talking randomly. We came up with classic lines such as ‘ Just one piece of sugarcane? Such a lie!’ and ‘ Here, just one sweet banana… Such a lie!’ Because we were all so full, but couldn’t understand what could be causing our hands to work so mechanically to ensure that the sugarcane, nicely diced, was all but over chewed.
With all this said, it’s too easy to come to the conclusion that this is the norm. It may be over these two days, but in between all this, generosity – and I don’t mean just fiscal – but that of time, love, and compliments has been at an all time high. I met a lady the other day outside the Uchumi with her beautiful baby strapped to her back, asleep, unaware of her Mum’s plight, and needless to say me and Mum had a nice little chat agreeing to make things better for the little one.
Lucas, my friend, wasn’t anywhere to be seen today, I assume he’s with the wife and kids. But God knows how I love the guy. He has the most amazing smile you ever saw, and even just coming up to him to chat with him for a bit makes him just fill you with the contagious joy he possesses. A father of six, his being blind hasn’t stopped him from being a great Dad to his children, and I admire him so much.
Christmas for me is about reflection, looking and examining oneself and one’s relationship with Jesus, acknowledging shortfalls, putting things at the foot of the cross. And celebrating Christ’s birth, while ensuring that you begin to develop consistent charity and generosity, making it less seasonal, and more personal and intimate with those you aid.
Be blessed, and don’t forget what Christmas is all about.