Writer: Shakirah Ssanyu “Shuckie”

Growing up, Christmas was that day I always looked forward to. As a child I didn’t really know what Christmas means to a Christian but I knew it was a day where we all came together to share the joy, laughter and merriment that came with this day and also catch up with family. It was more of a family day. But most of all it was Jesus’ birthday and it needed to be celebrated.

Christmas celebrations always began with Christmas tree hunting. We would go out in the neighborhood to look for a christmas tree which was often cut from a neighbor’s hedge fence and then carried home. It was then placed in a Nomi bucket which would then be filled with white stones and some water to keep it in a standing position. Then came my favourite part, decorating the tree. Some of the decorations included white, blue and green toilet paper, different colored balloons, sweets(which were usually eaten off the tree even before Christmas day came and we always replaced the sweet wrappers with stones to make them look like sweets), lights(disco lights) and many others. I don’t think I will ever forget the good old days because looking back at how these were done and how they are done today, things are really different. Those who remember I am sure you can relate. Once the tree was fully adorned, the Christmas feeling finally kicked in.

Another exciting Christmas tradition that I loved was shopping for what to wear come Christmas day “ Christmas clothes” . Without a new dress and shoes, it didn’t feel like Christmas. We always went out to buy those cute round dresses in red and green or yellow which my family liked to call ‘ TANTANTALA ’. The tantantala would be matched with white body socks that had a bow around the knees and shiny black shoes. When this was done, I looked forward to Christmas day so that I could go to church and show off my new clothes. I would sway and twirl to show off the new round dress that mom had bought.

My best and favorite part about Christmas day, food. Thinking about it now even makes me hungry. Christmas day was the date when mom out did herself. A variety of dishes were prepared, everything from chicken down to groundnut paste. We usually had eating competitions. This happened when we all got together at Jaja’s home. We were at least 20 people and there was a lot of talking, laughing, screaming, crying babies, it was a jolly moment. The day often ended with most of us blacking out due to satisfaction and discomfort caused by overindulging.

Now that I am grown up, Christmas couldn’t be more different. To tell the truth, I see no difference with any of the other ordinary Sundays at Jaja’s home. The Christmas tree is artificial which means it is the same tree year in year out and the worst part, only one person gets to decorate it. No new clothes, shoes, and most times I don’t even go to church since I have to stay at home and help out with the cooking. The house that used to be filled with over 20 people now has only 5-8 people or less, the merriment, laughter and joy that this day used to have when I was a child is all gone. It saddens me. But I am also grateful for the memories and wish it could go back to what it used to be.


Shakirah Ssanyu “Shuckie”
Leah Grace Oketcho, is a highly talented Communication specialist, gifted in leadership with over 3 years of leadership and management experience at different levels. She is a team player and has demonstrated ability in mobilizing and organizing others to achieve desired goals. Oketcho is well vast in the art of creating alternatives for ways to get results. She has over the years grown in the art of corporate communications and also participated in the development of performance management materials for various professional institutions. Leah received training in research, scripting, international relations, and data analysis as well as public relations. She is passionate about solving public health related problems. She has offered training to youth in oral and written communication, people management and mentoring, editing and documentation skills, public speaking.


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