By Muyiwa Adetiba
It’s Christmas. The anticipation is over. The gifts have been bought and wrapped. Travelers for the most part, have reached their destinations.
The cities have emptied, the towns and villages have swelled up. Those who have had a successful year know it and their swagger around the towns and villages, announces it. Families have met up. Some travelling thousands of miles to make it possible. Lovers have met up. Some going the extra mile to make it happen. Togetherness should be the word at Christmas.
Christmas is the universal day of rest. It is the nearest thing to a complete break from the toil and labour that the world recognizes. In my time, it was the only day newspapers all over the world shut down. It used to be the only day air planes were grounded all over the world – until religion crept in. It was the only day the skies had their own rest.
And if I remember correctly, it used to be the only day trains, the big shops and pretty much everything, shut down in the UK. God through His Word, said we should rest every six days. The world could only manage once every 364 days. Even then, it has been with difficulty as this order is being flouted with considerable impunity. No wonder the world is jaded and tired. No wonder God, through the pandemic, is forcing the world to shut down so planet earth can have its deserved rest and be rejuvenated. God, the birth of whose son we celebrate today, works indeed in mysterious ways…. Try to shut down the ‘apps’ in your brain that cause anxiety and tension in your body and savour the peace that today can bring. Peace should be the word at Christmas.
Its Christmas. The day that reminds us the year is far gone. Once we make it to the 25th of December, we know we have only six days left to the expiration of the calendar year. So the joy of Christmas is not only for the birth of Christ the Redeemer of the world, but also for being alive to see the end of the year. That joy is doubly so in Nigeria where many factors have cut short the lives of many people. So as we celebrate the joy of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, let us also celebrate life. Being alive should not be taken for granted. It is not a right. It is a privilege.
One denied to many this year. Let go and indulge no matter how the year has been. Only the living can make amends. When there is life, there is hope. Let the Christmas carols that has filled the air fill your soul. Let the Christmas lights enlighten the darkness and gloom that envelope you. Let the gaiety and fun of the moment liven you up. Get out your best clothes and wear them even if you have nowhere to go. Get your favourite liquor and pour yourself a drink to celebrate life even if you have no companion. Splash out on your favourite meal and make yourself happy. Wear a dash of your expensive perfume and smell nice for yourself. Joy should be the word at Christmas.
I grew up knowing my siblings and I would have turkey or a cockerel to eat with rice at Christmas. We were among the luckier ones in my neighbourhood. But I also knew that my parents would send stuff out. Which also meant I would get some coins for my trouble since I was likely to be a courier. At a stage, the very poor children would be made to sit round a big bowl of rice with chicken and fed by well to do neighbours. The very poor families were especially looked out for. This is a dying culture in our society which should be revived especially in towns and cities. So this Christmas, cook more than you require and share the rest with your poorer neighbours or even with beggars on the streets. It should not be just about food however, though hunger takes priority on a day like this. Let go of some of your clothes as well. Remember your neighbours who turn out every day in tattered clothes. Or those who wear the same faded clothes in your work place.
Share your clothes with them. The man whose birthday we celebrate today said among other things to his favourite adherents that ‘when I was naked you clothed me’. So help in clothing the physically naked while not forgetting those who are spiritually naked.
Those who are lucky to be spiritually clothed should reach out in counselling and love to those who are not. Share the joy of the day with people around you. Even those who feel they are lonely should endeavour to share their loneliness with others today. They’d be surprised what therapeutic effect it would have on their wellbeing. Share should be the word at Christmas.
There are other things to let go that are more psychological than physical or even spiritual. Many of them lurk in the dark recesses of our memories. If there is anything for example, that is making Christmases unbearable for you, it is time to let it go. Perhaps you lost a loved one, or spent a Christmas in a hospital or a police station or you got retrenched a couple of days to Christmas, it is time to bury the unpleasant past. Try not to enter the New Year that is just a few days away with the baggage of the past years. Cleanse yourself of the bitterness and disappointments of the years that have been weighing you down. Let go of bad memories. Let go of toxic relationships. Cleanse should be the word this Christmas.
Everybody deserves to be happy on a day like this. Many can be if they allowed themselves to be positive no matter their circumstances. It starts from not taking things for granted and being grateful for the little things of life. Health is the greatest gift we have. It is a gift many take for granted. Many are unhappy because of unhealthy expectations.
They expect too much from country, from society, from employers, from family and even from friends. They take what they have for granted and moan about what they don’t have. They take the positives in a relationship for granted and fret on the negatives. They should be reminded that true happiness means not taking anything for granted. Gratitude should be the word this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all my readers. May the joy of the day fill your homes.