Okay, I admit—my title is a bit misleading. You probably read the headline and thought: Oh no! Not another Christmas hater coming to bash the holidays. Don’t worry, it’s nothing of that nature. I love Christmas. I love the fuss that starts around November, the tress and lights, the allusions to gifting. But let me tell you a secret. I do not quite love Christmas day. It started when I was a child. I noticed that even though Christmas came with a lot of excitement, new clothes, trips to the village, extra money from strange Uncles—there was one thing that stood out. The grown-up women in my life—stepmom and aunties seemed to be extra stressed out around Christmas. There was all that hassle over what to cook, what to buy, where to store it. Sometimes they started preparing things three days before. Very early on Christmas morning, they’d wake early, cutting meat, frying peppers, killing chickens. The whole idea was that you had to get your house ready for the unsuspecting slew of Christmas visitors. On my own part, there was also the pile of plates and cleaning and errands that all suddenly demanded my attention. I know that there was extra to eat and drink, but at some point, Christmas day because kind of traumatic.
Fast-forward to when I grew up and understood that it was now my turn. Many of my aunties had been married off, and the responsibility of Christmas celebration for my younger siblings fell on me. Fam! I enjoy food and I can hold my own in the kitchen, but I’ve never been that enthusiastic about cooking. Too many hours. Too much cutting. And the meals were gone in less than Twenty minutes. Honestly, it just did not seem like a productive use of my time. It was also not uncommon to feel sore and tired after Christmas, almost relieved. Which also did not make sense. Like, why on earth was Christmas stressing me?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as I spend Christmas with my cousins who are so ceremonial about Christmas meals. Having had a very stressful year, I would rather not join in a long slew of meal preparations. However, I’m also aware that I’m not being very considerate. For instance, Christmas festivities have a ceremonial undertone for children. A lot of their memories of happiness, laughter, family, would happen around those holiday seasons. It’s important that as Christmas holds a spiritual mark for homes, it should also have some social and cultural significance. We pretty much can’t just wake up and have stale bread on Christmas mornings. I’ve been obsessing over these thoughts because clearly, I don’t intend to stress myself over Christmas, but also because I want to be sure that the holidays mean something to my children, nephews/nieces.
The good thing is, there are many ways to create traditions that are not centered around needless labor and stress. Of course, food will be involved. No matter what, there will always be food in my home. But who says that after spending a whole year cooking, you must cook on Christmas day? Sis. Please. Rest. If there’s ever been a time to order home cooked food during from experts, it is during the holidays. Besides, you can also host joint Christmas dinners with two other families. And then decide what each family would bring. This is common. Plus, you don’t even have to cook what has been assigned to you. You can always just buy it. See, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying junk food o. I’m talking about home cooked food from health-conscious caterers.
As for other traditions, you can always experiment with family gift giving, family photography hike. Extended family sleep over/campfire with breakfast the next morning. An indoor treasure hunt for the children. There are big and small ideas you could explore to make Christmas still memorable for your home without sweating unnecessarily in the kitchen.
But don’t forget. It’s only a suggestion. If cooking for people is your jam, please have at it. And please I beg you, don’t forget to invite me o. Lol.