By Paschal Chisom Obi
Yesterday morning, as I strolled down the street of Abuja for my usual early Friday morning exercise, I observed that streets were decorated with Christmas lights. Some hung the lights in front of their gate, shops and supermarkets. Melodious Christmas musical echoes of expectations filled the street. Everywhere was covered with dust. The weather was cool and looking at the sky, I could see the sun, so bright and lovely to behold. I also observed that the street was busy unlike before. I saw smiles on the faces of young people as they prepared for Christmas holiday. As they walked to their various car parks, some were carrying Ghana must go bags with their cooking utensils on their head. The car parks were filled with people.
Some cars were already overloaded with goods. Some of the kids in the park were busy admiring their new Christmas clothes, shoes and eye glasses. Some of the touts in the park were busy carrying and struggling with the luggages of passenger.
I almost had pity for a young woman who was travelling with all her five kids. Her footwear was too dusty and almost equivalent to that of a farmer. Due to the fuel scarcity, I wondered if she could afford the cost of transportation.
Also in the evening of yesterday, I was able to speak with some parents and children who came for Christmas carol in the Church. There in the party, majority of them were happy sharing their views as regards the festive celebration with me. One Miss. Chidera said, “Daddy said that we will be travelling on New Year's day, I've not seen my grandma for the past two years, we only speak on phone. I'll be happy to spend this festive holiday with her and I feel delighted.”
Master Olisa Metu lamented on the immoral attitude (Stealing, prostitution, cheating) young men and women portray during festive period. According to him, the aftermath of such behaviours are rape, unwanted pregnancies, contamination of infectious diseases, prey to kidnappers and ritualists while some even end up in jail. He went further saying aggressively, “I'm not travelling anywhere. My coming or going back does not add anything to my being.”
Mr. Kenneth said, “To be frank with you, I'm not travelling home for Christmas. I spent a lot this year. My children have been pestering me for Christmas clothes and shoes, I cannot afford them now and I cannot steal in order to satisfy their needs. They have to manage the ones they have. I believe that God will beautify the next Christmas celebration for us.”
I was highly impressed with Mr. Kenneth's sense of contentment. His level of self sufficiency, comportment and hope was highly commendable.
A critical assessment of the annual Christmas and New Year celebration revealed that they are too materialistic. According to Rev. Fr. Sebastian Ejie, “Christmas is not a time to spend the entire money one earned in a particular year, but a time to return to God in thanksgiving for the life we are living.” No matter how busy, Christians should always make out time to evaluate their lives and also reflect on the personality of Christ whom they are celebrating.
Owing to the fact that reflection and evaluation will help Christians to wake up spiritually. Nevertheless, individual and group evaluation programme will help Christians to appraise their performance during the year and to forge ahead with a New Year resolution.
There is also a popular saying that, “Christmas will come and go.” Augustine-Mary Christopher Oche adds saying, “Christmas will come and go, but Christ remains forever.” It is a pity that most people do not align with this quote. They rather act as if Christmas celebration will be banned the coming year. Different groups will soon organize their end of the year party. It's now normal for people to come for meetings to cause problems, confusion and division. Some come to drink themselves to stupor. Such people console themselves with the saying that, “Instead of the wine to remain in the calabash, let it remain in the stomach.” Some even go to the extent of feeding others with poison. Some will not attend parties and social gatherings because they feel that they are yet to meet up with the set standard of the group or society. What a Christ-less celebration!
Some parents are not helping matter; they use abusive words of comparison on their children during festive period. In such situation, coming back home becomes an uphill task for some people.
An incident occurred last year's Christmas; it happened that a young man was dismissed from his company work. The young man in question embezzled over Six hundred thousand Naira from the company's account. It was later revealed that the man acted out of frustration. His mother always frustrated him every Christmas by comparing his level of achievement with that of his peers and this led him to the act. I pity parents of our generation who are culpable of such act. Experience has shown that such children eventually turn to use them for money ritual.
Beloved, all fingers are not equal. Christmas celebration is not a time to live beyond your means, or portray what you are not. As Christians we ought to imbibe the spirit of simplicity, humility, obedience, and patience. Christ whom we celebrate possesses these qualities.
Some people have been termed, “Ala bụ otu.” Dear reader, Christmas celebration is not a time to rush from one part of the country to the other. Christmas celebration must not always be in the village, it can also be celebrated with the less privileged, those in the prisons, those in the hospital, and with those in refugee camps. It is a time to offer our time and talent for the happiness, and progress, not only for our biological family members but also for the extended community. “For whatsoever you do to the least of these brethren, that you do to me”, thus says the Lord.
As I jogged back home, I stopped over at a supermarket to get a bottle of soft drink, and I overheard a woman saying, “Don't you know you have to always be with extra money, because things are costly during this season.” Dear market men and women, Christmas is not a time to hijack price, cheat or deceive others. It is not a time to kill, or commit fornication.
Rather, it is a time for reconciliation; it is a time to give peace, a time to show love, a time to give hope, and a time to bring joy.