…The black Christmas as I know it….

ruraleceasterncp…but Zuma gets a salary, says the lady in brown in the table next to the one I am about to sit at. I am by no means eavesdropping but the way the debate is so heated couldn’t help but listen. Its December 23 2013 Johannesburg is not its usual busy but the way malls are so packed you lucky if you find parking near the entrance, make that finding parking at all.

Anyway as much as I grew up being this over intuitive child, I have never really questioned Christmas I mean its existence and the festivities around the day. All I know from what I have been told is that it is the day in which Jesus Christ was born and of course my little sister but that was only in 1991. If it wasn’t for the fact that I would get a hiding every time I asked an inappropriate question I undoubtedly would have probed my dad with the why’s and how’s but I knew better. I mean I remember when my late cousin was still alive I must have been 8 or something we would debate how babies come about, you know the whole theory of babies being bought (yes like how you would buy food at a grocery store), for whatever reason that never really flew with me, never believed it, I mean my parents have always wanted boys so if they really bought kids from the hospital why couldn’t they just pick a boy, pay and leave? (Story for another day).I suppose also what made me not to aggravate much about Christmas while growing up was the fact that it was always fun.

The only time where we would all get new clothes, I mean new with price tags on them. The only time where you will get away with murder no parent gave any kid grief during Christmas everyone would be on a high dose of happiness. If you have done well in school your Christmas clothes will be accompanied by new school uniform. Houses will be thoroughly repainted inside out amongst other things. I think there’s a scripture in the bible that say we had to prepare our homes and our hearts for the birth of the son, maybe it’s not a scripture I don’t know but I think the cleaning was resembling something, or maybe the houses really needed the spring cleaning what do I know.

Ours and most of our neighbours was a ritual of long trips from Cape Town, all the way to the Eastern Cape in buses that they used to call Blue lines, that too probably you’re first and last trip for the year (I mean long distance decent trip). We did not have Christmas trees; no one read any stories to anyone, Christmas carols??  ß—what is that. One thing that was constant though would be woken up at 4 on Christmas day to go outside and wait for sunrise, apparently the sun would dance and change colours. I never saw that but whenever asked if I did witness the sun dancing I would agree that indeed I saw it even the different colours too(I fear that if I told the truth I wouldn’t get my Christmas pack-full of only the sweet stuf). I didn’t want to be the odd one out. What I could attest to though is that a week a so before Christmas there will be a lot of butterflies around frequently white ones, and some in different colours but all colourful and I liked chasing after them it was bliss. We never had Turkey but my dad would make sure that he takes a sheep or a goat from his livestock to slaughter for us and our cousins. My mom will make sure that there’s enough home-made bread,fat cakes, 20 litres of OROS prepared the night before so that it’s nicely chilled on Christmas day that went for the jelly, custard and pudding. I remember one Christmas, well it was umjamo (the night before) my cousin was caught helping himself from the bucket full of amagwinya (fat cakes), he was stealing xmas food how could he? You would expect that he would be castigated right? Wrong remember no child was punished during this time at least not in our house. In an attempt to discipline him my mother asked him to finish the whole bucket, this is 20litres full of hot fat cakes (LoL). And so my cousin got up poured himself a jug full of water and he had a go at the fat cakes, as we all watched and counted. To my mother’s astonishment he really had a good go at it, she had to stop him because I started crying at the realisation that he indeed was going to polish them out, if he finished them what would be of our Christmas and so I bawled on, and my mother had to tell him to stop ( Lol punishment gone wrong).

I really enjoyed spending time around my family during Christmas, We would all attend church of course but no one would be listening to anything that was said, I know I wasn’t my mind would be on what I left behind at home. Get this —-àmy dad used to work as a Gardner right ( you know this by now) so throughout the year he would come home with stuff given to him by the bosses, buckets full of cookies I remember Cape assortments, Choice assorted, Quality street chocolates, Cadbury’s Lunch bars, chomps etc all of these will not be consumed at least until Christmas, so you can understand why my concentration will be vanished during the Christmas church service. What I didn’t like though was what the kids around our village used to do, going from house to house carrying a plastic bag and ask for ‘krimesi’. I know my parents also didn’t like this but in fear of being labelled as the better ones we were kind of forced to follow suit, and my aunt will lecture us and tell us not to eat anything just take it and threw it away when no one is watching. I think some of the parents in the village somehow heard my aunt or something because they will make you eat whatever they are giving you in their presence, some of the fat cakes that you will get you could smell that they were made out of Holsum. Holsum damn that thing doesn’t taste nice on fat cakes, me and my pernickety eating habits, I once threw up at one house I just couldn’t and I could hear them whispering “oh one of those from the Cape who think they are better” We did this till I was about 15 then one December as plans to go to the Eastern Cape were made I said I shouldn’t be counted because I wasn’t going, say what?  Yes I said it, and my dad being my dad was shocked but okay with it, my mother was flabbergasted she wouldn’t hear it, and that my dear friends was how I broke out of it .The very same year was the first time I ever attended the switching on of the Christmas lights in Adderly street, which is in the centre of town in Cape Town. This is South Africa’s biggest free open-air event, the City of Cape Town’s annual switching on of the festive lights. This made me wonder though, if Christmas means the same thing to everyone( oh does it) why do we then celebrate it differently?

Fast forward 2013 a lot has changed family wise, black people in our days have Christmas trees, Turkey is served ,sing along to Christmas carol, and father Christmas the works. I am all for liberation and all but for me anything that I do has to make sense(some, even if it’s just a petite bit of it). I am not pro nor am I anti Christmas but the way we go on and on all for just one day in a year, I mean is it really worth it? I see people pushing trolleys full of food and clothes get this I do not hate. Folks get their bonuses around November/December so I suppose it’s okay to go overboard a little, however what worries me the most is the fact that most of the shopping that we do during this time is on credit. I think am paranoid or something , just the other day I almost stopped this women pushing a trolley full of toys and stuff I wanted to ask her if her children’s school fees were paid up for 2014? I am not a school principal and I definitely cannot change much, but it hurts me to see the same folks who were going over board during Christmas queuing at the mashonisa ( loan shacks) come January. Because 1, we were so caught up in this whole Christmas and overlooked that there is school fees that need to be paid, rent, mortgage, cars and on top of it we still need to eat. It’s a vicious circle that has to end, you can’t work the entire year starve yourself just so you can have all the food in one day. Our thinking needs to change for the better at least. What really shudders me the most is being scorned by my peers for not going home for xmas. I love my parents I love my family but if I don’t have money to spend on a trip down to the Eastern Cape I will not go home -yes I will spend it wherever I am so long as it makes sense to me, home is 8 hours away I can always make that trip whenever I can (Yes it’s not going to be the same yeah,yeah not everybody will be around, but people that matter will be right?). I will not go home so I can be flashy to the ‘have not’s’ a car that I don’t own, hair style that is borrowed (yes its borrowed if the money you used to pay for it is not your own, yes credit card too) This in no way suggest that I am a better person or I don’t have debts oh I do a whole lot of them but being that as it may, I will not be caught in the same situation year in year out I refuse. Of course nobody appointed me as a judge over how people should spend their money, but I have seen far too many black kids begging to be accepted at varsities without even a registration fee. Should we blame that on apartheid too? The datum that we are offhand with our money?  Should Mandela rise and go to prison again so that we black people can learn how to use this thing that is somewhere in our heads entitled brains? Whose responsibility is it to change the status quo?

If  Christmas is supposed to be about worshipping the birth of Christ and loving people around us and giving to those who are less fortunate than we are,  how often does it turns out that way?



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