I have a little personal story to tell you about the unwritten convention or is it the constitution of my family I believe will interest you?
You see, I have nine sisters. Before I travelled abroad, only two have gotten married and the two are the type that either felt so relaxed at their husband’s house or the type that is not all that relaxed so felt like she needs to keep close eyes on the Hawks parading as mother-in-law, sister-in-law and concerned neighbors. So, to come and stay overnight in their father’s house was out of the equation no matter what is being celebrated. They are somehow okay with where they are. They needed to look after their ground first. They would just appear and disappear again.
Then, before I returned from abroad, almost the rest have gotten married too with various situations surrounding them. Either it was their husbands not having houses in their villages, money for celebrations not available, or they don't trust people in their villages over their kids. I might come back to explain that last point well for you if time permits If not, I will own you an explanation next time.
So, in that my family when I came back from abroad, I found out that there is this convention(I don't even know if it is the right word for the practice) instituted in the family( by no one) of my sisters bringing their families, the entire squad; husband and wife including the kids and house helps every other Christmas to spend it in our house. Shit, at times it will be a full house or rather a military barrack kind of. Thank heaven, our papa happened to have two, one-story buildings in the village so, there is enough space for everybody.
This practice had been going on for about a decade now and the kids seem to me to know their maternal grandparents more than they do their paternal ones. In Africa where kids belong by culture mainly to the father, it is somehow strange that my niece and nephews seem to know my village people more than they do their father’s.
Another thing I found so enticing about this practice is that even though you stay only for a week with them, it seems to you to be like a month and it’s ample time to know them as high as their numbers might be. Over here in Africa, the women lay eggs like what I don’t know and hatch all.
Observing these kids every December, you will know who among them that will be who in the future and know also where each needs touching and retouching to harness their potentials to be somebody in the future. Call such a community training or public upbringing, you would not be far from the truth.
They learn how to sweep the house and the compound, learn that foods are shared equally according to their stomach capability, learn that water needs to be where it is needed, learn that after play, shower follows, learn how to carry structured dialogue, how to greet their elders, wash plate, make your bed and at times help out in the kitchen.
Call the move crash course and you will be right too. The crash course is good when it’s practical base mainly for nothing educates like practical done without being forced, work done by watching your peers and joining with all pleasure.
To tell you that among those soldiers, some, of their birthdays fall within that holiday period. It’s like a double whammy for some of us. I, like most of my siblings are December kids, so a hell of a month December is always in my family.
Some will celebrate before Christ and some after Christ. In my family, it is something else this month called December. Some of us thought you overgrown it with time, carols, bangers, and, a hell of noise from mass returned people but not true when you are from my family or else from a family like mine. The kids will teach you one thing or the other by force whether you want to learn or not.
Ha!, they are radio, Cable network, TV, and newspaper all in one package. When those that are kids three years go seem to be crossing over to semi-adults, another set will replace them and bring their antics to the unending show called December.
To think that their presence shapes our behavior as yours shapes theirs for a week speaks volumes of what a week can do in the life of anyone that pays attention to subtle things in their lives and environment. I do, and I have seen those changes in tons.
They laugh, they scream, they cry, they quarrel, and set up customary courts select judges, prosecutors, Clarkes, bailiffs, officers, and chief judges and tried the cases. Interesting being in their midst when the session is on.
You need to see bigger ones among them play cards, ride bicycles, and settle quarrels amicably, and younger ones mimicking the priests or father Christmas after attending services in the church.
Interesting what they pay attention to in the church or when our parents are discussing something with the visitors.
My advice to you is to not discuss anything you don’t want them to recite after the visitor is well gone. They replay all like record to you as you discussed them with the person, the tone each person used in every sentence, how you laughed an,d what was agreed upon.
At times, they will be doing that unintentionally without anything prompting it. They will demonstrate, point out and how you or your visitor got up from the chair and how each of them walked.
Even when I was abroad and called home to wish my people happy Christmas, I recall hearing noises of those kids and how they circle my dad picking out white hairs from his head and screaming “look at another here” “ ha, another here too” on the phone I wondered how my dad even hears what I was saying. The noise was always deafening.
Then, it would be time for me to greet them each by name as we introduce ourselves. Before they saw me in person, they knew me well already and are always eager to hear my voice each December so, I set out a day and time to call home in other to get the whole troop that was around that particular year.
You could imagine my happiness when I was finally able to be part of the ruckus in person. Truly, there is a great difference between colored TV and black and white TV.
I know that it’s not only those troops that look forwards to each Christmas period and the gathering but we adults too and am yet to hear of any of us, adults that have not talked of the great gains in gathering each yuletide in that family have not brought into our lives and the changes in our kids. The wonderful lesson is full of life-long experiences that kept refreshing themselves each year.
I know that some of the kids are grown and would soon all face their lives and their father’s houses would turn out to be the meeting point for them then but as of this year are expecting another set of troops so, I will not miss for any reason the enjoyment while it last.
Happy Christmas to all and a prosperous new year.