Last Sunday, my mum, myself, Baba Kitty and our little boys travelled to Gatundu to visit our 91 year-old grandma. She is my only surviving grandparent. I last saw shosho about a year ago when she came to our house for Ello’s Itega (holding the baby).
Today, being Christmas Eve, and as I reminisce my childhood memories of the day, shosho always features prominently. As you might have guessed, many of our Christmas’s were spent in Gatundu. My siblings and I would always be awed by the village life and the holidays were always very exciting. I touched on a little of that in my post last week here.
Last Sunday, I felt myself chocking with tears when Kitty got to sit on the very three-legged stool that I used to sit on in my shosho’s kitchen –over 30 years ago.
Watching him seat on that stool –my favourite stool –the moment was simply surreal. Epic.
As Kitty sat on that chair as I narrated to him how I used to sit on it decades ago as I listened to shosho narrate her childhood tales to us, he simply looked at me blankly as my voice faintly trembled, struggling to squeeze through the lumps in my throat.
I am unable to describe what that feeling was, but what I can say is that I feel very blessed and grateful, that my sons can have the opportunity to get a semblance –a physical feel of my own childhood experiences.
Grateful too that they have the opportunity to bond with their great-grandmother (they call her maitu).
So anyway, what did we used to do on Christmas Eve in Gatundu?
On Christmas Eve, I remember shosho and guka would allow us to stay up till late in the smoky mud-walled kitchen –chatting and laughing our hearts out as we engaged in animated conversations.
We would also sing Christmas carols in English, Swahili and Kikuyu. It was always fun to have our cousins to teach us Kikuyu songs as we taught them English ones. I especially loved singing ‘Silent Night’ in Kikuyu…. ‘Ni utuku, ukiritwo…’
I remember we would occasionally step out of the house after lighting some little firewood sticks and then pretend that we were Mary and Jesus groping in the dark looking for a guest house until we finally found a manger where our sweet little Jesus was born. The firewood sticks would act as candles. Wrapped in bedsheets, re-enacting the birth of Jesus with our cousins was too nice.
Meanwhile, we would be roasting some sweet potatoes by the three-stoned ‘earthen cooker’ as we sipped hot tea and snacked on njugu karanga.
And when the clock struck midnight, we would dash out of the kitchen and break into dance and jubilation, happy to ‘see Jesus being born’.
Those are good old memories we had with my siblings and our cousins. It was how our parents and grandparents ensured we had memorable Christmas Eve’s.
My boys are only three years old and one year old, and I always wonder what Christmas Eve memories they will have as they grow older. Today we are just sitting here in the house watching Baby tv and Jim Jam. Nothing special they are doing.
What do you guys do on Christmas Eve? Any particular family tradition you have? What memories will you give your kids as they grow up?
Merry Christmas to you.