The sound of loud voices, heavy footsteps, plates clattering, kids running around screaming and Yoruba Fuji music blasting from the stereo woke me up. What in God’s name is going on in this house? I unwrap myself from my comfy duvet I had brought along to go and check what was happening and the moment I opened my door, I noticed the Christmas decorations hanging on the walls. I went to the living room and noticed that a Christmas tree had suddenly appeared there, elegantly positioned close to the 48 inches Tv on the wall. There were beautiful Christmas lights and tiny ornaments dangling from the tree and the house was glowing. I’m impressed as I took in the beauty of it all and what surprised me more was the fact that it was actually the kids doing the whole decoration while Darey was perched on the sofa watching them fondly.
The kids saw me and together they all screamed “Merry Christmas Aunty Lola!”. I smiled at them and hi fived each of them for a job well done before acknowledging Darey who was looking at us affectionately. He nodded back so I moved to the kitchen and there was Mom with Tinu different plucking chickens and scaling fresh crocker fish. I greeted them and Mom answered with a bright smile and some words of prayers. Tinu came to hug me and then whispered in my ears,
“Ema binu Aunty mi. I’m sorry. Merry Christmas”
I hugged her back and replied, “It’s alright Dear, we’re good”
I noticed that Mom was watching us and from time to time. She would look up to the ceiling, and with her hands together as if in supplication, would mouth some words of gratitude for our reunion. Tinu and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. This was just like old times. When we were kids, Mom would have punished us thoroughly for quarreling. When we turned teenagers, she would lock us outside the house until we settled our dispute before allowing us inside. All of those things she did just because she wanted us to be more than sisters.
You see, I had a brother; he was Mom’s first issue but he had died immediately after birth and after Tinu and I, Mom had not been able to conceive ever since. So, her rule was, “feel free to quarrel but let me not hear of it”. That rule used to work when we were little; now, she can’t control us. But our Aunts can. They’ll bring down the house if they found out so, settlement is highly imperative.
I went outside the house and saw my Aunts seriously busy. They had brought out Mom’s huge native pots, the two party coal pots and were also using fire wood to cook the famous “party jollof rice”, assorted stew, and yam. Iya Asake was pounding yam, Iya Bola was turning semo in a big pot, Mama Ibadan was turning the jollof rice in the pot with a huge stick while Mama Eko and Mummy Leke were attending to the soup and the stew on the fire. Bayo was busy running errands and also arranging some chairs under a standing canopy. The speaker that was blasting the Fuji music was standing close to the house building which explained why it sounded like it had been playing from inside the house directly.
All of these activities are not new to me. The funny thing is, Christmas at Moms’ always looks like a traditional marriage ceremony. Another interesting thing that happens is that after the cooking, Mom will dish out the food in plates that she has preserved all through the year and send us to deliver it to the neighbors who lived nearby. The rest of the food is served to more relatives that will visit that day and the next few days. What’s worse? Tinu and I have to do the delivery ourselves so that we’ll receive the prayers of gratitude from the neighbors. Oh Mom! Too many traditions!
Everywhere was full; both in and outside the house and everyone was fully dressed in their full party regalia. Sorry to say but, my family’s so extra with these things. The kids were the most excited cos our relatives had brought more kids of their age so, the more the merrier for them. They kept on running around as well as playing hide and seek. I refused to serve anyone food so instead, I directed the young girls that were around to do it. I was wearing a very expensive black ankle length boubou gown and I was being careful not to ruin it. Last year’s Christmas was a disaster. I had tripped on one of the cords connected to the speaker and spilled soup on my Dolce and Gabana dress. If that should happen again this year, that’ll be it coming home for Christmas ever.
Mom’s cousins who haven’t seen me the whole year kept asking about my “family” like they were expecting me to have one already. I just kept my cool, giving all of them the same answer of “They are fine” cos I was tired of explaining myself over and over again that I’ve got just me, myself and I. Gosh! The pressure!
Bayo came to call me that there was a package for me at the gate so I followed him to confirm cos my office didn’t have Mom’s address thus, I was curious to know who would have sent the package. I got to the gate and signed the receiver’s slip then I was handed a box with a card pinned to the seal. I skimmed through the words that read,
“Hey Lolly, some chocolates to keep you warm.
I became furious. Jeff must be kidding me. This is the most expensive joke ever and I won’t let it slide so easy. Jeff knows that I hate anything fattening and he had the nerve to send me a box of chocolates? I’m gonna shove it down his throat when I see him. I gave the box to Bayo and instructed him to keep it in my ward robe while I went to sit with Mom under the tent to watch my relatives dancing to the loud music.
It was really late before the house was finally quiet. The youths that had been around had assisted in cleaning up the house so, it didn’t even look like a major “Owambe” had taken place at all. I was back in my room, refreshed and checking my social media accounts for anything new then Jeff called. I ignored the call at first cos it reminded me of the silly joke he had played earlier but on the third ring, I picked.
“The nerve Jeff” I said
“Hey Sweet Pea! Did you like the chocolates?”
“Seriously jeff, what was the meaning of that? You know I hate chocolates and you had the nerve to send them to me on Christmas eve? Are you trying to kill me or what?”
“Babe, I figured you needed some sugar in your system. You’ve been stressed of late…”
“And how would you know what’s best for me? huh?” I attacked him
“I know you well enough to know what’s good for you Lola” he said sounding serious now
“Well, thanks but no thanks. I don’t need that. I’m perfectly capable of handling my stress. Bye Jeff”
I hung up but before the call ended, I heard him sigh on the other end. I really don’t need such in my life and it’s annoying that he’s overstepping the boundaries. When we met, I had made it clear to him that I didn’t need all of those mushy stuffs that regular couples do. I told him that he shouldn’t even see us as a couple cos I might not give him that hundred percent commitment he desired and he had agreed. Now, I totally don’t get his new tactics. Too much care, too much attention, too much of everything; exactly what I don’t need.
I switched off my phone and laid back on the bed to sleep. A day without drama in this household didn’t kill anyone so hopefully, tomorrow will be sane as well.