It is exactly two days to Christmas depending on where you are on the globe. This is a joyous occasion for most people and we do celebrate it differently. Back in Kenya, most families will take a short vacation to be with the extended family in the countryside or a small getaway away from the big cities. Afterall we believe that the poorest person is not the one without money, but the one without people. Our festive meals are chicken, nyama choma(roasted meat),accompanied by pilau,rice,french fries, chapati among other delicacies. You might have a touch of vegetables in kachumbari (raw onions and tomatoes cut into tiny pieces and garnished with lemon and coriander leaves) as a side dish just to sooth the conscience, otherwise we forget vegetables altogether. You know better than to let your animals go wandering into your neighbours’ compounds at a time like this unsupervised. They just might never come back.
In France on the other hand, the festive food includes mostly crustaceans, salmon, foie gras, capon, cheese and Christmas log for dessert. Christmas is a time that family gathers together to reconnect and catch up debriefing about the past year as you await the coming one. We look forward to giving and receiving a special gift under the Christmas tree. You just have to look at the Mad Rush to the shopping malls on the days leading up to Christmas. You want to give a gift that equals what you receive. Much as we wish this was a joyful, stress free occasion for all, it is rarely the case. Consider this and spare a thought, there are those who want to be with family and friends but due to unavoidable circumstances they cannot. For example; doctors, nurses, midwives working around the clock in shifts. When you are toasting the drinks, breaking bread with family, they are busy saving a life or bringing one into the world to give a family a lifetime gift.
Think of that flight attendant whose child does not understand why mummy or daddy is not around for Christmas while the other mummies and daddies are around. However heavy this is on them, they have to keep their heads high, wear a perfect smile and give you a wonderful on board travel experience.
How about those wishing they could spend just one last Christmas with a loved one but he/she is no longer with us? Or those who know that unless a miracle happens, this will be the last Christmas with a loved one as per the doctors report. This can easily be a lonely time that some do not look forward to but have to deal with.
My heart warms up when I think of my uncle Jack this Christmas. He was well known for his hearty laughs, but I specifically remember him for the stories he gave me about the history of our people and how he made everyone feel around him. He is the only person so far that I have met who could rebuke you with the same tone and voice he used to compliment and praise you. Having zero tolerance for ignorance, he used his waking moments to instill a sense of culture and pride in us and was open to discuss any topic under the sun. To me he was not only an uncle, he was my friend. I celebrate his strength and think of him especially during festive seasons as he would always have something new and interesting to share with us however near or far we were. We all have that one person whose opinion counts even in our smallest achievements besides our parents. For me, that was my uncle Jack.
As he would put it, not all gifts are monetary. The biggest gift you can ever give is the gift of self. It could be as simple as a hug, but if it fills a void, then your work is halfway done. He lived by this principle and more than five years on, his legacy lives on. Using his words, we can all offer a gift with or without money. If he was here today,he would say, 'if you don't have a gift this Christmas, BE the gift."
Merry Christmas to you and yours.