Brenda loves her family and does whatever it takes to make them happy. One of her most favorite times of the year is Christmas. She gets that warm feeling went the fall season begins because she knows that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Kwanzaa is coming and the memories of those times kept a smile on her face. Now that she is grown up with four children of her own the smile has gone away. What Christmas meant to her was not the same for others in her surroundings including her children. Her children’s expectations of Christmas are to get Christmas presents like their friends of which she cannot afford. Her children do not understand that she is the sole provider for their household. Sarah is Brenda’s oldest daughter she is thirteen years old. She loves her family but sometimes gets it confused with her anger towards their financial situation. Sarah is a lot like her mother she wants to see her younger brothers and sisters happy. 

It was the last day of school before Christmas break. As Sarah was getting ready for school she heard her brothers and sisters expressing what they want for Christmas. She became angry knowing that they would not be able to get any of those things. When she told her mother what her younger brothers and sisters wanted for Christmas. Brenda felt the stress to express how she wish it was possible for them to have those things, she said, “ unless a miracle of money falling from trees happen they will not be getting those things for Christmas”. After Brenda explained this to Sarah, Sarah became angry and started blaming everything from her race to what she is as to why they don’t have what their friends and other members of their family have. Brenda told her, we have each other and that means more to me than anything else”. Sarah said to Brenda, “well, that is not enough for me”. Then she stormed out of the house full of rage. She cried all the way to school. By the time she got to school, she tried to hide her feeling but it was obvious to some of her friends that she was upset. Tony one of her friends asked her,” Why are you so sad”? She said, why are Black people so poor, and White people have all the money”? That was her perception because all of her White friends had all the video games, nice clothes, and fine houses. Sarah said,” I am so angry because my brothers and sisters will be disappointed again this year”. Tony felt bad for her, He said “I have an idea, follow me and I will explain it to you along the way’. 

Brenda just got home from work she had been thinking about the conversation between her and Sarah and how angry she was when she left to go to school. 

The phone ring, she picked it up and said, “Hello!” The voice on the other end asked, “Is this Mrs. Brenda?” She said,” yes it is, how can I help you”? The voice on the other end said: “This is the sheriff department; do you have a daughter named Sarah”? Brenda said frantically, “yes I do”, “Officer, what is this about please”? He said, “Ma’am we have your daughter in our custody can you come down to the sheriff department”? Brenda said, “Yes, as soon as my other three children get home from school”. As soon as Sarah’s brothers and sister walk through the door, Brenda told them,” we have to go out so don’t take off your coats. She had to take what little bit of change she had to pay for bus fare to get to the sheriff department. Brenda’s younger children saw tears streaming down her cheeks. They asked, “What’s wrong mama”? “Why are you crying”? She said, “don’t worry about me I am going to be alright”, but the truth is she was scared. When Brenda arrived at the sheriff department they informed her that they arrested Sarah for breaking and entering private property. The sheriff said, “We will release her into your custody because this is her first offense, she needs to stay away from boys like Tony who was arrested several times for robbery”. Brenda was relieved that Sarah was able to come home. They had to walk home because Brenda did not have the money to take the bus. Brenda was quiet all the way home because she was thinking of what to say to Sarah to make her fully understand how dangerous it is to go down the path of stealing.

When they got home, Brenda cooked dinner and while they were eating. Brenda requested that after everybody is done eating do not to get up from the table because she wants to have a family discussion. Brenda has four children two boys and two girls’ ages range from 13 to 6 years old. Brenda opened up the discussion by asking Sarah, “why did you break into someone’s home’?. Sarah said, “I was angry because I am tired of being poor and not having money to get things we want for Christmas, so I broke into somebody’s house.” Brenda said, “Sarah, do you know how dangerous that is, you can get shot, plus it is wrong.” She said to her mother, “I hate Christmas because it makes me sad’. Brenda said, “It is my favorite time of the year because I know Kwanzaa is following Christmas. The children asked Brenda what is Kwanzaa? Brenda has never introduced her children to Kwanzaa because the people she used to celebrate with has moved far or passed away. She did not lose interest, she just lost her way.

Brenda told her children, that her family was not rich with money to buy things, like expensive toys, and high priced clothing like some of my friends at school wore. Even though we did not fully participate in the hustle and bustle of shopping downtown, that did not stop us from shopping. We had our own traditions that I looked forward to every year. Our family holiday tradition was superb. What made it superb was the celebration of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa gave my family a reason for the season because we were among the family that was our friends. We enjoyed shopping on Black Friday. We made it our day to buy things geared towards our Kwanzaa celebration that came after Christmas. We shopped at flea markets because we wanted our dollars to go to people who have products, and services to sell but can’t compete with malls and big department stores in getting their products and services known. I always found shopping at flea markets fascinating because there are merchants out there that are selling unusual things that you never saw before kind of like Pinterest. Pinterest reminds me of a flea market the only difference it is online. Brenda had her children’s full attention as they listen about her family's holiday tradition. “Kwanzaa has seven principles to go by; my family uses these principles every day to carry us through for financial growth. The seven principles are Umoja (oo-MOE-jah) - The first principle is Unity - Joining together as a family, community, and race. The second is Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) - Self-determination - Responsibility for one's own future, 

The Third is Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) - Collective Work and Responsibility - Building the community together and solving any problems as a group

The Fourth is Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) - Cooperative Economics - The community building and profiting from its own businesses

The Fifth is Nia (nee-AH) - Purpose - The goal of working together to build community and further the African culture

The Six is Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) - Creativity - Using new ideas to create a more beautiful and successful community

· And the seven are Imani (ee-MAH-nee) - Faith - Honoring African ancestors, traditions, and leaders and celebrating past triumphs over adversity”.

“On Black Friday we used the 4th principle to sustain us with the enjoyment of shopping by spending our dollars with a conscious. The 4th principle is Ujamaa-(OO-jah-ma) which means cooperative economics. As the holiday progressively move forward we were gratefully busy preparing for it. While we were shopping we were networking with merchants and vendors who are active in our community. We brought the necessary goods and services to pull together for the empowerment of the community. Part of our planning is to create gifts together to exchange at our Kwanzaa celebration. Everyone was invited to come to the celebration. We celebrated the holiday at each other houses. Friends of all races, gender, and ages came and felt comfortable enough to volunteer their houses to celebrate from the first on to the seventh day of Kwanzaa. Uniting family and friends was a big blessing to my family because we knew what isolation was which no longer existed for us since we started celebrating Kwanzaa. Celebrating this holiday gave us a sense of belonging. My family was and still is determined to strive for a better tomorrow by empowering others. Shopping for us was a learning experience. Each day we shopped we learned about another business in need of our support in order to grow. As a family, we learned to stay strong in creating. We always had fun doing the work together". 

Things have drastically changed with the times. Even though the family is too far away to come together like we use to, I still follow the seven principles. Brenda realized she needed to find her way back home. Back home for Brenda was finding that happy place again. She looked at all four of her children and said, “tomorrow when I get my paycheck we are going shopping to the flea market to buy supplies to make gift to bring to the first day and your first time to a Kwanzaa celebration” “We will have fun making the gifts on Christmas day” Brenda and the children prepare for the holiday celebration cooking and creating. All of Brenda’s children seem to enjoy themselves on Christmas day. Brenda found a group in the community called Rafiki which means friends in Swahili that celebrated Kwanzaa. On December 26, Brenda took her children to their first Kwanzaa celebration. They all enjoyed being together with other people who made them feel like they belong because of who they are and not what they have. Sarah was drawn to the happy feelings of emotions and could not wait to celebrate the other six days of Kwanzaa. Brenda stood back and watched her children transform like she did when her mother introduced her to a different kind of family holiday tradition. After the holidays the children returned back to school. Sarah was given an assignment in class to write about her favorite time of the year. Sarah started her report with, “like my mother Christmas is my favorite time of the year because the celebration of Kwanzaa starts the next day.

December 19, 2019 21:13

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