♫♫Christmas, Christmas everybody sing…. ♫♫ Oh, it is that time of the year again, yay! Yes I am one of those people who truly enjoy the heck out of the Christmas season. Family, food, festivities, and fun…what’s not to like? I start playing my Christmas music as soon as the Halloween craze wraps up. I grew up in a Christian home so Christmas was always a day that we celebrated. The days leading up to Christmas we would get “new” Christmas clothes and “very beautiful” shoes, but if those clothes arrived any earlier than December 25th, we were NOT to wear them. My sister and I are one year apart, and if you know anything about the African matching culture, you know we would always be matched head to toe so much that some people would confuse us for twins. The same goes to my two brothers (my youngest brother had not been born yet), all dressed up in new tailored outfit and to complete the package, my mother in the African kitenge of the same color (kitenge is an African fabric similar to sarong). You could easily pinpoint who belongs to what family in any crowd, household matching was a big deal back then.
On Christmas day, I would wake up to the same Christmas music, the lyrics are still stuck in my head, “Noheli Nziza Banyarwanda Muzagire Mwese Bonane” translating to “have a great Christmas Rwandans may you all have a good new year ahead”. Christmas day is when the kids will be allowed to eat breakfast at the big table, and lo and behold, we were allowed to drink tea instead of oatmeal for breakfast, which I gladly enjoyed as I wasn’t a fan of the normal cereal, oatmeal or porridge breakfast growing up. The day will be followed by a trip to the local cathedral to attend the Christmas mass. All excited to show off our new outfits, families would enter one by one and proudly match the long hallway to their pews. To some Christmas was the only day that they attended mass, all the seats would be filled that day. The mothers will be giving their children those famous mom signs to act right, fold your hands in front of your chest my mom would whisper, and we would stand like little angels our hands prayerfully folded the same way like the statue of Mary hanging at the alter behind the priest. Come to think about it now that was a very clever way to keep young children from being their wild selves in church. The mass ended always in time for lunch but the parents chatting afterwards seemed like eternity to me. Back home the food would be ready, a very delicious Christmas meal included grilled beef, some rice and tomato sauce, a cabbage and carrot salad and the endless plates of French fries which I would stuff my face with, without my mom knowing. Santa Clause was known but it wasn’t a very celebrated tradition back then, the presents we got were mostly candies and the occasional chocolate and we knew nothing about making lists of what we wanted for Christmas, naughty or nice was an unknown concept.
Fast forward to now, many years have passed, traditions and cultures have morphed a little more and my new home now has even more rich Christmas traditions that I hold dear. My husband, an American with German-Italian-Irish-Hungarian-Welsh-possibly Spaniard heritage (a melting pot, if you would) being of a different culture, his Christmas went a little differently than mine. His cherished memories revolves around Christmas gift unwrapping, every christmas morning he and his sister would wake up very early to unwrap the gifts that they had previously listed on their Christmas gift list, thus tradition entails knowing what you want and waking up expecting just that. His family time on Christmas is on Christmas Eve where his mom would make them a big feast and family and friends would celebrate. On Christmas his father would take him to his house where the process of gift exchanging would repeat. He knew all about Santa and he believed in him as a small child. He still holds great memories from those Christmas traditions.
The two of us obviously ended up together and now we have a child to whom we are looking forward to passing on the best of both our cherished traditions. Part of being a parent involves purposefully and mindfully choosing what traditions you want to pass on to the next generation and which ones to leave behind, it is all part of parents responsibility to help creating a better world for our children.
Part of being a parent involves purposefully and mindfully choosing what traditions you want to pass on to the next generation and which ones to leave behind.