Written by Adebayo Akande
Last Christmas was like a distraction for me. Yes, I went to Church and exchanged messages (I actually felt I just had to reply incoming texts), I was just going to lie in bed all day. Then came a knock on my door, I felt like someone just wanted to ruin my day. I checked, and it was my neighbour, the housekeeper, with a plate of food and a drink. “Please manage this, it’s the best I could do….” I’m not sure I heard the rest of what he said. I was transfixed, not because someone gave me food, but that fifteen years seemed to fly through my mind in a split second. I collected the food, mumbled something that I hope sounded like thanks, and went back to my bed. Then the tears rolled down uncontrollably. Yes, for the first time in almost three years, I cried.
I remember as far back as when I was five. My siblings would make ugly cardboard chains and hang them up in our living room, and then we would arrange cards in and on every available space. Every single card just had to feature! Then mother would come home the day before Christmas with the latest additions to our wardrobe. I had an aunt, now of blessed memory, who would without fail bring me at least a native attire and groundnut from Kaduna.
On Christmas day proper, we would cook for the entire neighbourhood, and I had the unsavory task of chief distributor. I hated this task, especially when I had to take food to households where my crush lived-(be doing as if you too didn’t have crush when you were ten o). I got tipped for my efforts though; we were happy, it was Christmas, and we were family!
Fast forward fifteen to twenty years, and here I am. The one-time baby of the house, now in his own apartment, siblings scattered all over the country and the globe, about to spend Christmas just sleeping, because I have lots to do, a major journey coming up, money to make the next day; I was even going to take a locum job that night!
What has happened?
I know what you are thinking, I grew up! You’re probably right, but I think it is more than that, even worse.
That little boy has become so engrossed with life that he has lost his wonder! He lost interest in hanging the lights, giving food to the neighbours; he was saving the money he has for an upcoming journey, a couple of examinations, maybe an engagement ring too…winks.
Can you, dear reader, relate with this? What are the things you’ve outgrown? Did you once sing in a choir? Dance crazy with friends? Play video games all night? Rolled car tyres in your shorts?
But now you worry about meeting deadlines, working overtime to make more money, you question the rationale behind having to pay so much for cable TV-must we watch comedy central? Why go to the cinema, isn’t it the same movie I’ve got on my hard drive?
You are probably right. It is a hostile world out there, and for some of us, it’s like we were just dropped into the hot zone in a nuclear war. The transition from student life to being workers was a tad drastic and sudden.
But we are gradually becoming less and less happy and enthusiastic about life, and what is worse is, we hardly notice! Before you say “nah, that isn’t me” can you just tell me how you feel Sunday nights when the thought of another working week flashes through your mind? Exactly!
By virtue of my profession, I have been stressed, and I’ve seen beautiful sights. Top of the list is in the delivery room, two near indescribable looks: one of a baby staring into space, with eyes taking in their very first pictures, and that of a mother who was screaming in pain now beholding her newborn like the throbbing pain never happened. I hope one day I’ll find apt words to describe the latter.
But then few weeks on, the same woman would look stressed and sleep starved, and that wonderful look practically gone!
How can we keep our wonder, even when life happens?
I used to wonder why Jesus said “…unless you return to square one, and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again like this child, would rank high in God’s kingdom.” Matthew 18:3-4 Message translation.
I think I know now. A child can look at one picture, listen to one song a thousand times over and still be in awe. I used to carry my niece on my shoulder and run. She would be terrified, but immediately I put her down she would open her arms and request I carry her again.
I get bored eating. I wish there was a way I could be filled without having to waste time chewing. I feel it’s a waste of time if all you’re doing for ten minutes is just eating. So now I use that time to catch up on news, or some other things.
Well, let me attempt to bring this to a close, at least for now. Please don’t let the rigors of adulthood rob you of the life, the excitement you had as a child. While we must take charge and be responsible adults, we must also remember that part of that responsibility is to be happy, so we can build happy homes. We may be low on cash, but we shouldn’t be bereft of bliss. I know, the two go together, but that’s where we miss it again! I won’t sermonize much, but please don’t let us look back on our youth and wonder where the years went. Dance with your friends, sit in the open field and look at the sky. Buy kulikuli and cold water and close your eyes to remember how you used to love this as a five year old. Share, give, love, and live!
Let me stop here. Well, later that Christmas evening, I visited my parents, bought and shared gifts to neighbours, called childhood friends and spent hours reminiscing; then made a promise to myself and my future family that there will always be “merry” in our Christmas and indeed every other day of our lives.
May we never lose our sense of wonder!
Locum – a part-time job a doctor undertakes as an extra source of income
Kulikuli- a staple snack made from groundnut