Tag Archives: Christmas

Negative competition

When I was a kid, the main reason I loved celebrating birthdays, Easter and Christmas was because we (my sisters and I) always got new clothes, and most of the time they were matching Cinderella dresses. Mom always bought us the dresses that were in vogue at that time, and as we grew up it became a little tradition. The best part was when it came to attending mass on Christmas day, because then we’d get to wear our cute ‘princessy’ dresses. In that light, my least favourite Christmas was year 2000’s because we didn’t get new clothes; mom didn’t have a job and dad wasn’t willing to part with his money.

Given the circumstances, we were so disappointed; we refused to attend mass. It felt weird not wearing new clothes to church. Mom was so strict when it came to matters church, but I guess that day she understood our frustrations so she didn’t force us to go. In my family, Christmas has always been treated like an extended family affair so most of the time we hold our annual get-togethers around that time. That Christmas was being celebrated at one of my uncles’ place. Dad went alone.

Seeing as we didn’t attend mass that day, one of our second class cousins, who lived nearby passed by our place. Maybe the frustrations of not having new dresses made us myopic, because I remember feeling like she had only come to see what kind of clothes we had.

It sounds foolish when I think about it now, but we made that deduction based on three facts: firstly, their house was a thirty minutes’ walk away from ours. Secondly, she brought us an old black card with a wine bottle on the front page and it wasn’t even enveloped. It didn’t seem like a Christmas card and given that I’ve never seen it since then, I’m assuming we threw it away that same day. Thirdly, we weren’t really that close. The relationship we had with them was a very unhealthy one; it was more of a competition; seeing who went to the best schools, who lived in a fancier house, who got a boyfriend first (we were still very young but that was also an issue), seeing whose parents drove the best cars, who got the best grades in school…

Based on that, it was difficult to believe she’d walked all the way just to bring an old card; but maybe we were just being paranoid… the only good thing about that day was that one of our aunts-she was estranged from her husband at the time so she also didn’t attend the get-together- brought my sisters and I some cute knickers.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, the things-habit wise- we pick up as kids stay with us longer. In that respect, I’ve always detested any form of competition I deem negative; with my cousins for instance. The madness stopped when we moved to different parts of the city. I don’t think the competitiveness stopped, on their part atleast, because even when we meet one can still feel the tension; the only thing is that distance brought some sanity.

When I was a kid, the relationship we had with the rest of the family didn’t feel any different and as I grew up I started appreciating the distance. We only met up when it was inevitable. For the better part of our preteen and early teenage years we still were linked by the mere fact that somehow my sisters, female cousins and I all went to the same boarding school. So even if we lived far from each other we’d still meet in school.

Slowly, I started hating anything that felt like a competition, because if whatever I had/did wasn’t the best, I’d lie so I wouldn’t feel so bad about it. I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Luckily we went to different high schools and seeing as we were old enough to make our own choices we (my sisters and I) avoided any unnecessary meetings. Sometimes distancing oneself from negative influence is the best solution.

Someone who reads my posts regularly might think I hate my extended paternal family. Truth is I don’t hate them. I just don’t like the person I am when I’m with them. Our relationship hasn’t changed. It has always felt like a competition, and looking back at the life I had as a kid, I know I wouldn’t want to go back to that. If I have to constantly tell lies or lash out at someone because they make it their business to pry into my life, making me feel bad about what I don’t have or what I have, just because they’re not okay with it, I would rather sever all ties with them than do something I might regret for the rest of my life, in an attempt to always top the charts.

second chances

Life happens when you’re busy planning life

making plans

‘Life happens when you’re busy planning life.’

The first time I heard this statement, my mind went back to a date I never had with a guy I really liked about two years ago. Naturally, I’m one of those people who don’t just do things on impulse. If I’m hooking up with some girlfriends, I’ll have to plan for it. If it’s an appointment I have with my hair dresser, I’ll have to plan for it. If I’m going shopping, I’ll have to plan for it. Spontaneity isn’t a word I’m too conversant with.

I really can’t say it’s a good thing. Some might argue it’s good to always plan for things in advance-I thought so too, but not anymore. Through experience, I learnt that sometimes it’s actually good to do things on impulse. The problem with some things is that if you actually sit down to plan when you’ll do them, they’ll never happen.

Two years ago, I met this guy when I was at work. He worked for a popular radio station. After talking for a while we just clicked, and he asked me out. I didn’t even think twice about it; I definitely wanted to spend more time with him. You know, there are those people who are so easy to like; he was one of them. The problem however rose when we started setting the time for our date. Somehow our schedules collided. When I was free he wasn’t, and when he was, I wasn’t.

He suggested we should just leave the possibilities open so if he was free he’d call me up to ask if I could avail myself. That proved difficult because at times he’d call when I was tied up with something. I had to explain to him that I had my activities all planned out (It sounds boring I know, trust me). He on the other hand told me he was an in-the-moment kinda guy. Whatever he did, he did when he felt like. He made it clear that he wasn’t really into planning and all. At the time I was like, “What? Planning makes things easy.”

He dropped by my workplace, and we managed to set an actual date. We agreed to hook up later that evening. Everything was going on fine, until I sprained my ankle. I wanted to ignore it but the pain was too much. I just rang him to cancel; there was no way I was going on a first date with him limping.

It was around Christmas. Later that week my family and I travelled out of town for a couple of days. When we came back the Christmas festivities had relatively cooled off. I’d asked my boss to give me a few days extra and the understanding man he was, he had agreed, so I reported back to work later than everyone else. It was almost time to usher in the New Year. Soon, everything went back to normal, the holiday spirit died down, waiting for another twelve months so it could resurrect.

There was too much work to be done and even, though I’d thought December was a busy month, January proved worse, not because there was too much work to be done, but because generally, the month feels like a Monday; a mundane, lethargy-inflicting day, after an exciting weekend. The connection we’d fostered the first few days faded away. I got tired of all the rescheduling, and I imagined he felt the same way too.

The relationship we would possibly have had ended before it had begun. I could tell he was a fun guy to be with, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe if I hadn’t been too keen on planning, if I just lived for the moment, I would be telling an entirely different story. Maybe I made wrong deductions, but given that to date we’ve never hooked up, I concluded that sometimes it’s actually good to just do things on impulse.

From a Christian’s perspective I could decide to look at it from the, ‘God didn’t want us to go on that date perspective’, but normally I feel my ‘planning’ got in the way. So I do agree, that life actually happens when we’re busy planning it. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, so if one gets the opportunity to do something today, they should just grab the chance. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe I’m not…

 

Almost Aborted

pregnant

When one of my cousins was twenty years old, she got pregnant. She wasn’t married at the time and she hadn’t introduced any particular guy to her family, so it came as a shock to everyone. Her mom was the one who was most affected; her daughter’s situation would subject her to people’s ridicule. She wasn’t prepared to go through all that; so she asked her to get an abortion.

My cousin was distraught; she was not prepared to have her baby aborted. She refused. When the row was going on, one of our cousins, who she was closest to, found out and started telling everyone. She turned her back against her too, disregarding the tight relationship they had before the ‘tiny one’ came into the picture. Before long, everyone in the family knew my cousin was pregnant. It was a difficult time for her; everyone turned against her. They felt she had committed a grave mistake. Some relatives rejoiced; not for good reasons though, but because the girl everyone considered holy had been knocked up by someone no one in the family had been formally introduced to.

Naturally, my sisters and I aren’t so close to her because she-like the rest of the family-always snubs us; we don’t fit in her social circle; I don’t find that an issue anymore-it’s just ludicrous (I fail to comprehend how people could put so much importance on material possessions). After everyone got wind of her undesirable situation, she was alienated, without a single person she could count on. Even the cousins she ganged up with to make our lives impossible ditched her. If they weren’t dissing her, speculating who her baby daddy was and all, they were celebrating her ‘misfortune’. She was all alone.

The situation felt especially difficult for her because she was a girl with a quiet demeanor, while her mom’s the kind of woman who criticizes others easily. My aunt feared people would unleash their wrath upon her, serving her a dose of her own medicine. She was disturbed. Before it became public knowledge, she had talked to mom about her predicament; she had a solution to obliterate the tragedy, but her daughter was too unwavering to comply. She asked mom to convince my cousin to terminate the pregnancy.

Mom wanted to help, but the idea of an abortion didn’t sit well with her. Instead she had a talk with my cousin, asking her what she wanted. She wanted to keep her baby. Subsequently, mom tried convincing my aunt an abortion wasn’t the solution; my cousin wasn’t willing to go through with it.

That infuriated my aunt. How would she face people? The same people she had always been too quick to judge? Eventually, she kicked my cousin out. We live in the same estate, only in different courts, and luckily mom had gone to see how they were holding up when she was thrown out. We took her in. Funny thing is, we were among the first people to hear it because when my aunt found out she told mom about it, reeling with shock, but we never breathed a word of it; it wasn’t our place to tell; plus we’ve been in that situation-having people make us subject of their scuttlebutt with reckless abandon-too many times to want to inflict the same pain on anyone. I also believe in the golden rule; treating people the way I’d like others to treat me…

When she came home, it was around Christmas. After the fight with her mom, her eyes were red; she had been crying. All we wanted was to make her settle in; no one questioned her about it. She would tell us if she deemed it fit. For the period she stayed with us, none of us brought the issue up, and apparently she didn’t see it right to let us in on it.

We were ignoring a gargantuan elephant in the house; sometimes surprised, we’d be tempted to innocently point out her feet were swollen as it was too obvious or that her face was glowing but then we’d bite our tongues real quick; she hadn’t told us she had a bun in the oven and we didn’t want to offend her. She had too much on her plate; if our willful ‘ignorance’ afforded her some false impression of privacy, we would give her just that.

At some point we wanted to suggest we take her shopping so she could buy some cute dresses because she was always in jeans and over-sized shirts, but we couldn’t. We had do act dumb. It was difficult, but for her peace of mind we refrained from saying or doing anything which would allude to the ‘little’ elephant we were all trying to ignore. I doubt I ever told her, but the thought that she refused to abort even when the whole world seemed to be against her made me admire her greatly.