Home for the Holidays

What about the holidays makes everyone giddy with excitement and cheer? Personally, I know for one thing the holidays for me means spending time with friends, family and loved ones! Growing up, like any other little rascal, Christmas was all about presents, food and merrymaking. As an adult, that has not changed; however spending time with friends and family does take precedence in the reasons to love the holidays. Come to think of it, what really makes Christmas special are those family traditions that build up over the years and eventually become part and parcel of what Christmas is all about. This year as I prepare to spend Christmas with my nuclear family and away from my extended family and home (Ghana), I reminisce those past Christmases growing up in Ghana  and hold those special family traditions dear to my heart!

Growing up in Accra, Christmas was always ushered in by the smell of the Harmattan season (Dry season in Ghana – which is usually accompanied by extreme heat and dryness)! Yes, we were always very weary about cracked lips and dried out skin, but that was never enough to dampen our holiday cheer. A good whiff of the dry Harmattan air was enough to get everyone high on the Christmas spirit.

Mummy was always way ahead of us in the Christmas planning, especially when it came to securing our outfits for Christmas and New Year church service. Before the beginning of December rolled upon us , mummy had us trekking across town picking out fabrics, styles and getting us measured by Ofori, her top dress maker. Her rush was warranted because Ofori was supposed to be the best in her circles and his Christmas load could get pretty ridiculous. A late start with Ofori always would require a candle lit vigil by his sowing machine on Christmas Eve just to make sure you had something spectacular to wear in the morning.

Then came the colorful Christmas decorations in the stores, schools, office buildings and individual homes. Interestingly enough, this time was always a favorite time for minor home improvements and up keep. The smell of fresh paint on the wall was also an olfactory cue that the holidays were around the corner. One could never get enough of the hearty smell of fresh paint and Harmattan as a sure indication that the holidays were indeed upon us!

It was always tradition in the Abeasi household to embark on the jolly experience of trimming our old faithful tree we had lugged back home to Ghana after our years in the States. Its artificial branches were adorned with colorful ornaments and candy cane treats Mummy had to replenish each year since it was a favorite of visiting friends and family.  Of course there is no way I could leave out Daddy’s incessant tradition of hanging the million and one greeting cards we received each year, on a string strategically running through the living rooms and other common areas (which of course drove mummy insane because it did not necessarily match the decor and was sometimes a walking  hazard). But Daddy always got his way with those cards!

Beneath the Christmas tree was always home to the lovely decorated gift baskets and hampers received from Daddy’s acquaintances and business partners. These contained all sorts of exciting goodies, exotic chocolates and candy and hearty cookies which of course would never make it to boxing day (the official gift unwrapping day) if my brother had anything to do with it!. It was definitely a great Christmas when we received livestock gifts – the well fed goats, sheep and chickens – that usually came amidst excited bleating, baaing and clucking as if they were well aware of the time stamp on their existence.

Nothing spelt Christmas in the Abeasi household then the daily sounds of the Christmas carols playing over and over and over again. This tradition started with the Jackson 5 Christmas album from Daddy’s record collection – Little Drummer Boy, I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Clause, Rudolf the red nose reindeer, Silent Night and the likes! These tunes remained classics and common even after the worn out Jackson 5 record croaked its last! (And of course using a record player lost its coolness). A Ghanaian Christmas is never complete without the Bonny M Christmas songs that were favorites with the radio stations and grocery stores. I have “I wanna wish you a merry Christmas” tune and lyrics imprinted on my brain for life!

The Christmas season always came with all the fun, parties, merrymaking and the lot! In order to keep track of this, the Abeasi household had its own ‘Outing Amendments ‘ agreed upon, signed and sealed by members of the household as what was known as the Abeasi Christmas Outing Constitution! This included a listing of black-out days, if you will, within the holiday period that were reserved for family time and family time alone as dictated by Mr. Abeasi himself. Under no circumstances were members of the Abeasi clan supposed to schedule events, causal meetings, parties or any outing on these days. They included December 24 evening (Christmas Eve), December 25 whole day (Christmas Day), December 31 evening ( New Year’s Eve)  and January 1 during the day (New Years Day). Days outside of this list were free game and had our full attention! (So to all my friends that I missed past events held on these days, now you have the reason and going forward to those who are planning events and would like to see me there, please lets stay away from these days!)

Growing up, I might have taken all these family traditions for granted, heck some were actually very annoying but now as I think about them, they definitely bring a smile to my lips! These were traditions that allowed us as a family to enjoy one another a bit more. Yes, the holidays does come with its pressures and stress but what’s more importance is that we use these times to spend more time with friends, family and love ones because in actual fact that is the essence of the holidays!!!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!!!

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