Yesterday, I shared some of my favourite childhood memories about Christmas as a little girl. Today, I shall be giving you guys a glimpse into what Christmas was like for me as an adolescent and a teenager.
I was one of those who skipped Primary 5 & 6. I took my common entrance exams in primary 4. Sat for the exam in both Ondo State and Ogun State (that was where dad was stationed at the time). Of course, I passed all with excellence and off I went to Abeokuta Girls Grammar School.
Remember I mentioned yesterday that I was the youngest of seven children? Well, my admission into AGGS meant I had to leave my Akure family to move in with my dad. I was in the boarding school and spent my holidays with my biological family.
My admission into secondary school and the move away from the family I grew up with signalled the end of my childhood. When I returned to my parents, I resumed my rightly position and duties as the first of what later became six children. Words fail me to describe how much I missed being the baby of the house. I was no longer the centre of attention. I went straight from being the pampered child to the one who had to look after everyone else. The change was too sudden and I was not given enough time to grow out of being a baby into the mini mummy of the house.
Strange as it might sound, I missed my cousins spanking me. I thought I would have preferred it to the beatings I was getting from my father whenever I did not act right or behave maturely enough. I wanted none of the responsibilities that came with being a first child. I hadn’t even learnt how well to take care of myself and there I was having to take care of my younger siblings.
Christmas wasn’t that fun for me as it used to be.
I was grown. Young but grown by all of the responsibilities I was saddled with, I was no longer the baby of the house and everyone expected me to drop all of my childlike behaviours.
Christmas preparations as a teenager had me plucking feathers off dead chickens soaked in big bowls of hot water. Gosh! How I hated that smell. I still find it very nauseating. I no longer got tiny pieces of hot chicken cut in my hand on Christmas eves; that had changed too. All I got now was hot oil splashing out of the frying pan and burning my face and hands. I missed being my big cousin’s handbag. I missed following her to visit friends who always bought me biscuits and soft drinks. Some even gave me money. I now carried the shopping bag behind Mumsy, dragging it by my side with tired hands, praying that the Christmas shopping would end soon. I cursed at those who hit me with their bags as they hurried about with their own shopping in a bit to return home early enough to start Christmas cooking. I hated that we always had to park the car hundreds of kilometres away and trek into the market because it seemed everyone was shopping on the same day.
I missed not knowing what the process of getting ready the steaming hot jollof rice that came after the customary first meal of pounded yam and efo riro or egusi soup was on Christmas day.
I missed my mother (my cousins’ mum) dressing me up in my aunty-give-me-cake gowns, white socks with lace on the ankles, shining new shoes –those shoes were always black and oversized. Mother always said it was better and cost effective to buy shoes and clothes for children in bigger sizes as they were still growing. I missed my telephone wire ponytails that were attached to the end of my hair gelled into a bun.
I did not exactly miss the gown ‘cause now, I got to follow Mumsy to the market to buy my skinny jeans and pretty tops, belts, heeled sandals, fancy slippers, and heck, it was “gone for good” to the double decker glasses and computer wristwatches that never worked after the second day. I loved my new wardrobe but I disliked that I had to sew what we call “anko” (matching outfits) with my siblings.
So here is the gist huh…
Mumsy always got us English wears for Christmas and an extra top for Boxing Day – always the same pair of jeans though. Then she bought several yards of lace or Ankara material that would be shared amongst my siblings and me for New Year’s Day or thanksgiving.
Recall that I mentioned in Blogmas Day 1 that my immediate older cousin is at least 4 years older than I am? Well, that meant that there was hardly such a thing as matching outfits or “anko” in my childhood.
Christmas was definitely different for me as a teenager.
My biological family was not as large as my old one. My siblings and I were all young. There were fewer visitations from family and friends and I missed going around with my friends on Christmas day to people’s houses, not to eat rice but to collect money in new notes. A particular family always gave us this delicious chin-chin I would nib on forever so it would last longer… LOL
In my older teenage years, I graduated from helping out with the cooking to doing the cooking. Heavens know I do not like cooking, but what choice did I have?
My parents always had pounded yam for breakfast on Christmas day, which I never pounded by the way. But I did every other thing from the cooking of different types of rice, to the soups, frying, and so on.
However, as my siblings and I got older, we got fed up of having rice in any shape and form on Christmas day. We opted for meals like bread and fried eggs, spaghetti (my absolute favourite), fried yam and sauce, and all sorts. I remember a particular Christmas I had fried chicken and garri for breakfast. There was just nothing special about having rice on Christmas day anymore.
If I were to pick between my Christmas as a little girl and as a teenager, I would pick my childhood Christmas over and again.
I missed being a baby. All the responsibilities that came with growing up downed the joy of Christmas for me as a teenager. The only fun thing we did was go to eatery to eat snacks and ice cream. I wasn’t going to be caught eating rice on Christmas day, not after spending all of my morning toiling in the kitchen preparing rice for whoever would come visiting my parents.
I hope you had a better Christmas experience as teenager. If you did (or not), please share your experience in the comment section, I’d love to read from you.
This is day 2 of my #Blogmas series; tomorrow shall be another day.