“Oh I wish it could be Christmas, everydayyyyyy!……” know that song? It’s one of my favourite Christmas tunes and it’s what’s buzzing in my head right now :-D.
Wrote this post at the beginning of the month but just didn’t get around to posting it, now all the festive buzz has sort of reached a climax and I’m late but anyways….
I was out shopping in the first week of December which is when most Boroughs in London tend to officially recognise that it’s Christmas. Then each one starts scrambling over the other to switch on their Christmas lights with much fanfare. It’s always fun to watch shops and various businesses try to out do each other in the Christmas window stakes too. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a price attached to the best festive window presentation. Although, there’s a business case to be made for attracting more customers into your store due to your irresistible window display. For instance, on the day I went into my local Mall here in Ilford, I loved the window display at NEXT so much, I unwittingly walked into the store and ended up shopping in there even though that wasn’t actually my intended destination.
At the risk of sounding jobless, I do make it a tradition to go see the lights in Oxford Circus! The window display in Selfridges is an absolute must and I can’t wait to see what show they’ve put on this year. I saw on Telly the other day that Harrods also launched a fantastic Christmas window but my money is on Selfridges, they’re much more avant garde.
Growing up in Nigeria, I always loved Christmas and my childhood memories of the season are some of the ones I cherish the most. My dad had loads of friends so we were always swamped with cards and gifts. I remember always looking forward to the hampers…oh Lord! The cakes, pudding and all those goodies! such a treat.
I also remember the turkeys. We used to get about two to three every year and they were always alive when given to us a few weeks before Christmas. I remember being tormented by my uncles with the turkeys as they knew I was scared shitless of the poor birds. We had to keep the animals in our balcony as we lived in a flat or sometimes in the back yard where we hung out laundry so those areas were no go areas for me during Christmas. I would run across the backyard when I needed to go to through like the Turkey (which has been securely fastened to some pole by the way) was going to suddenly jump and come and get me…it was hilarious.
On the day itself, we would join hundreds of other children in the neighbourhood and all over the country in showing off our new clothes….’aso odun‘….we used to call them, meaning; festive clothes. This was one of the other reasons I loved Christmas time and new year celebrations: the new clothes and shoes which we would have had to go to the market with my mum to buy. This was the last chance to buy the reigning style or material or combination to show off to friends and family. It was usually a tedious process involving going from stall to stall in search of the perfect attire or size or colour. By the time all the shopping was done, everyone would be exhausted and crisis would have been averted.
There’s always lots of food on the day too. Especially if you’re not Christian. People tend to bring you food to encourage you to celebrate with them. Friends, family and neigbours and this was another part of the festivities I used to look forward to. I remember getting dressed and waiting for the food flood to begin. There was always so much to eat, by the end of the day, we’d be too stuffed to move a muscle. Not to mention there’s always a Christmas party happening somewhere, you may have been invited or you could just crash the party with someone who was…no one cares…it’s the season to be jolly so the more the merrier.
New years eve was always the day to go to the beach for us. I and my brother and my cousins would usually go to Alpha beach as it was the closest to us. Why we did this, I’d never know because anyone who lives in Lagos would tell you that Christmas day, boxing day and new years eve are the worst days to go to any beach in Lagos because they would be absolutely jam-packed with concert goers, revelers, thieves and thugs and just about half the city’s population.
I think this is what made it such a compelling place to go on those days though. Nowhere else had that buzz during the festive season and it was just mad fun. I miss those days and I was understandably depressed on my first Christmas in the UK. There was no movement, it was freezing ass cold and there was no party….what a scandal. How can we have Christmas with no loud Christmas party half full of strangers???
It was also the most quiet Christmas I’ve ever had. I never thought I’d say it, but I missed the fireworks in Lagos..(we call them bangers!). I use to cuss the people who threw those damn things but it had over the years become a part of Christmas and on the day….if you’re really lucky, some of the boys might have even saved up enough to buy original fireworks so you might enjoy a nice display instead of the cheap noisy version.
I’ve gotten used to the British kind of Christmas now, heck, I’ve even embraced it. I can’t smell it in the air like I used to growing up in Nigeria but I’ve learnt to enjoy it all the same. We put up some decorations and a ginormous Christmas tree and that sort of sets you in the mood. We don’t tend to have a feast on the day unless we’re invited by family who are Christians but when we’re home, we do have a big roast and a nice cozy meal.
We tend to celebrate more on new Years day as this is more in keeping with our traditions growing up. Like every other year, I’m looking forward to the shopping and all the craziness that comes with the festive season….It is the most wonderful time of the year after all….;-).
I’ll leave you with some photos of my local mall in full Christmas glory.