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A Covid Christmas

By The Guardian Life Readers 20 December 2020   |   5:54 am

A Covid Christmas

Christmas is a time to round up the year but even more importantly, to set aside the troubles of the year and focus on the positive.

This year’s Christmas is a different one as 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride of events. With social distancing still a very important factor, Christmas celebrations would be taken a different turn as we all try to maintain the spirit of the festivities while staying safe from COVID-19. We asked The Guardian Life readers to share their intentions for this year’s Christmas and here is what they had to say.

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Joseph Edet- Manager Director, Cross River Garment Factory

 It has been a tradition for the past 14-15 years and everytime there is a carnival people rejoice because come from as far as Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and a few African countries and a few from around the world to attend this carnival.So for us in this COVID period, we noticed as a government led by Senator Professor Ben Ayade, we noticed the issue and the threat posed by COVID-19 and because of security and the safety of the people which i know my governor puts first, we decided to ut the carnival on a hold this year. Nonetheless, the other activities will still go ahead, the 32 days of Carnival village for example  but following COVID 19 guidelines for special distancing. For us in Calabar, the carnival may not happen but the spirit of the carnival is still very much active.

Opeyemi Alexandra- Lagos

Christmas used to be my favourite time of the year, I looked forward to next Christmas, right from the 26 of December. Everything made me love Christmas; shopping for new clothes and shoes, school break, visits to our cousins’ houses, the Jollof rice and chicken (we ate Jollof rice multiple times in the year but there was something special about Christmas Jollof) and I used to get monetary gifts from adults. 

One of the highlights of Christmas for me was trying on my new clothes and shoes, walking around the street and seeing other kids in their Christmas clothes, blowing banger, and the money I got. There was always something in the air around Christmas, something that warmed my heart and made me happy, something that has since disappeared since I stepped into adulthood.

Christmas as an adult is very meh, it has now become just any other day and not even the Jollof rice makes it special anymore. I wonder where the cheer went. Is it because I no longer get Christmas clothes and money? Or is it because there is no break from school to look forward to or holidays at cousins house?

It doesn’t even matter that we are in the middle of a pandemic, nothing is going to change for me. All I’ve been doing on Christmas since I became an adult is to stay home and eat Jollof rice all day and that is exactly what I am going to do this Christmas. 

I really want the cheer of Christmas back, and I intend to make it happen. 

Santa with face mask | Photo – Capx

Kenechukwu Mbadugha- Anambra

Christmas has always been a season of merriment since my childhood days and for as long as I can remember. From going shopping for Christmas clothes, to meeting with relatives for the first time, it was indeed a period to look forward to.  

The most exciting thing about this period for me is when we had to travel from the city back to the village to meet my relatives who were also visiting. I remember my mother would fry a lot of beef and make chin-chin which we would use during the journey. I felt the period created a special bond for us as a family as we would pray the night before and also my dad would play Chioma Jesus songs  (a Nigerian gospel artist) in the background and we sing along as a family during the journey.  Also, another exciting part of visiting the village was the masquerade festival and annual event held where culture is exhibited from different tribes in Nigeria. 

Looking back it was a good experience, but I do not know if it is because I am more mature now and have more responsibilities or it is the COVID-19 that has changed everything because Christmas certainly does not look like it used to be.

Yinka Akinbobola- Lagos

I would say Christmas changed for me with age. The older I got, the less exciting the activities and traditions that came with the season became. For example, while growing up, I looked forward to the annual family trip to my hometown. Now I don’t think I want to be on the road for that long or leave the city to celebrate Christmas at my village. As a child, I remember the “shout outs” and “season’s greetings” on TV, I don’t think they do this anymore. I also loved to hang decorations and set up the Christmas tree in the living room. Now I can’t remember the last time I heard or sang a Christmas song or carol. I also wonder what happened to “water parks” [a recreation park in ], I used to love going there. I wonder where kids go these days. I do not know if things changed or I am just older, but Christmas doesn’t feel like it used to be.

The pandemic also made things different this year. As an introvert, I prefer staying indoors and only go out when friends and family drag me out. Due to covid, this won’t be happening. I would most definitely be spending Christmas indoors with the family.

Ezekiel Bassey- Akwa Ibom

Growing up, I looked forward to Christmas as it was one of those periods I could wear fine clothes and shoes and work around aimlessly with the hope of getting compliments. I grew up in a home where things weren’t particularly great during my early years and meals like jollof rice and chicken were luxury. As a result, Christmas – not even my birthday, or the year I came first position three terms in a row – got me jollof rice. So yeah, it was quite a deal for me.

Another interesting event I looked forward to during the Christmas period was travelling by road to my village. My dad would charter a bus (when things started to get better) and take both my family as well as the workers from my mothers’ restaurant to the village. The initial excitement had always evaporated before we even got to Ore -Benin Highway as I would have slept and eaten several times already. 

Besides the occasional boredom that could be associated with village life, it was quite fun there. I was always amused by the simplicity. Unlike Lagos, there were no “banger” sounds, just peace and quiet. It was the kind where I sit on the foyer with my dad and raise hands in acknowledgement of teenagers that walk past the front of our house and say “sir” as a way of greeting, and my dad would respond “aba die”. 

You know how I mentioned how jollof rice was associated with Christmas at home? Well, that was in Lagos. In my hometown, Afaha Atai, we ate fufu and Afang or Atama soup at least twice a day. It was the type I watched the process of harvesting and conversion from cassava – high-quality stuff! 

The day we did rice, it was with bitter leaf soup. 

I guess all that has changed now. My parents would be celebrating Christmas but with the pandemic, I’m not sure I would be joining them. Plus, the whole ambience from where I currently stay in Lagos Mainland is sort of drab. Asides weekend plans I have made with my babe, nothing else dey oo.

But I’m still looking forward to a spark – the kind that is usually associated with my Christmas.

A family celebrating Christmas | Photo – Rachna Agrawal

Wemimo Odjede- Lagos/Delta

Christmas is always a memorable time for me and my family. Every year, we visit Delta for what we call a family affair. It is a time of reunion for me and my in-laws. My mother-in-law makes it a point to throw a party where she shares food while we enjoy the music. However, this year will be different. We will be observing the social distance rule by staying at home. Also, my mother-in-law will cook but this time, it will be dished out in take-away packs. There are always lots of weddings to attend but we will not be travelling this time. 

Abdullahi Baffah- Bauchi

During Salah, here in Bauchi, we share food and drinks. It is the same during Christmas for Christians. We also visit zoos as a tradition.

Just like the Salah, we didn’t celebrate it because of the COVID and it will be the same for Christmas. However, some of us here will resume attending our churches and mosques. I think one of the things that also makes me enjoy it is because I visit the farms during this time. 

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