It is #UgBlogWeek yet again, and the last this year. There’s no theme this time and people can write about whatever they wanna! Sort of feels like setting one’s own exam and then answering it! LOL! So here goes……
My all-time favorite time of the year! Yes!!!!! CHRISTMAS!!!!! 🙂
Christmas has always been a happy time of the year for me. From when I was a child and my siblings and I still got Christmas presents to when we got older and that surplus money wasn’t there anymore. LOL. I kid. I joke. But when we reached an age where gifts were not that vital anymore and there was no crying if none were given.
Growing up, I developed a new meaning for the season, and yet it still remained my favorite time of the year…and maybe even more! There’s a joy that comes with it. A real, pure, unadulterated joy, from within that eventually oozes out. Somehow everyone is nicer and kinder and willing to share….something we strangely do not see often the earlier part of the year. (That’s why one of my favorite Christmassy song is from Sesame Street; keep Christmas with you…..all through the year)
My family tradition for Christmas is simply going to my maternal grandparents on Christmas Eve for the day, then getting back home and spending Christmas day at home. I don’t remember the last time I went to Church on Christmas day….the crowd that day is something else. So I choose to stay away. It has been like that since forever and because the village is not so far away from Kampala, the journey to and in a single day isn’t tiring at all. And the stay is long enough to make merry, visit the extended family, have a feast, etc.
That was the case until last year, 2015. Both my maternal grandparents passed on. One in June and the other in December. December 5th to be exact. Just a few days before Christmas. I woke up, drove to Mukono to supervise the site I was assigned that time, and I knew in a few hours, I was going to head back to Kampala and then to the hospital to pick my grandmother and bring her home. The plan was to surprise her because she always doubted my driving. LOL. For years she’d said she didn’t think I actually knew how to drive because I had never driven her. So this day, I wanted to. I was going to. She had been discharged. She was well. The life of the ward. The doctor had given her a green light because she was out of danger. So much that he didn’t think it was even necessary to prescribe anything. She’d undergone surgery for an intestinal obstruction weeks back and she lived through it. It was successful. She was good to go….God just had a different destination from what we thought was the obvious. After her breakfast and interacting with doctors and other patients all over the place, she sat on her bed to wait for her doctor to come sign her papers and see her off, and just like that her soul slipped away. Nobody noticed, not the doctors and not her caretaker. For a few minutes, nobody noticed her sudden silence or maybe they thought she’d just rested. Then her caretaker tried to ask her if everything was packed, and that’s when she noticed that she wasn’t napping but had died. Quietly, painlessly and I chose to believe she went happy. The doctors tried to resuscitate her but she was long gone. My mum says her soul ‘escaped’…because there is no way anyone would have accepted her goodbyes. And yet, that’s what she was doing that morning, come to think of it. Greeting everyone, wishing them well and telling them she was going. Turns out she was going to her eternal home. Her soul simply escaped.
So last year, my countdown to Christmas was blurry. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. What Christmas Eve would be like. How were we going to go back? A few days after the funeral? Would we even go? Did we want to go? What would we talk about when we got there?
Days after December 5th passed. And Christmas got closer. My mum was something else. She still mourned. Her parents. Her children’s grandparents. Granddad was her best friend. I had no idea what to say or how to help and so I just made myself available. Present in case she needed something. I took leave with her. We tried to deal together.
December 24th came. We made that trip to the village. This time it was quieter than usual because we really had no idea what to expect on the other side. We bought a wreath. Two wreaths actually, for each of the graves. We’d only been there a few days before and the flowers from then were withered but not fully dry yet. But we still took some. For Christmas.
The neighborhood people were glad to have us; but still gave us that stare….of is it really the same? The same old Christmas Eve visit? That look of sympathy. At the village home, slow activity. My grandmother used to get things in motion. Everyone had something to do, so much activity happening at the same time and so much energy. But now she lay in her grave about 100m from her home. The energy was gone. Except for the children playing around and making noise, oblivious of the situation, the mood was not Christmassy.
It will be a year on Monday 5th. It will also be 20 days. Two more Mondays. Three Fridays. And then Christmas. I dread it….but I’ll wake up and go to work, and get distracted. It always works for days like those. I have no idea what it will be for my mum. I still remember the morning of 5th December last year. I remember seeing several missed calls from her and wondering why she’d called so many times knowing I was driving, and didn’t leave a message. I called back. I still have the screams from the other end of the phone line fresh in my mind. I fear the moment will come back fresh for her. I pray it’s gentle.
Christmas still brings me joy, but now it also reminds me of a bit of my heart that had to leave.
So, to that bit of my heart, I will see you soon. Also, I will bring you flowers on Christmas Eve.
Keep Christmas with you
All through the year
When Christmas is over
Save some Christmas cheer
These precious moments
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year
Christmas means the spirit of giving
Peace and joy to you
The goodness of loving
The gladness of living;
These are Christmas too…