The other side of the Christmas festivities

The noise, traffic and shopping madness can strain your sanity

In Summary

• List of pet peeves with an otherwise relaxing occasion

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, and in keeping with my friends’ perception of me as contrarian, I thought rather than talk about Christmas happiness, laughter and general holiday cheer, as no doubt just about everyone else will be doing that, I’ll talk about the things I hate, but let’s call it strongly dislike, about Christmas.

So the following are some of the things I strongly dislike about the holidays.

Christmas songs and jingles. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the songs, they’re about Santa Claus, Jesus and snow, so it’s not like you expect them to be good. The problem is there’s only so many times you can take ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silent Night’ and Jim Reeves songs of Christmas being played over and over and over again from every speaker before it sets your teeth on edge.


And while we’re still on Christmas noise, I give you bell people. There’s always someone, in Nairobi at least, standing at the entrance of a shop or a kuku and chips establishment in a well-worn Santa Claus get-up, ringing a hand-bell to attract customers. I mean, the costume is conspicuous enough, and if that’s not reeling in the customers, I don’t see how the sort of racket bells make will.

Coming second on my holiday’s strong dislikes list is traffic. Nairobi already ranks top five world’s worst traffic jams, but come the holidays, Nairobi is traffic hell. For some reason, every kind of driver comes out to play over the holidays: good drivers, bad drivers, reckless drivers, they’re all out on the road. Surprisingly, so too are learners, some of whom don’t even display the L-plate but you can tell they’re learners from the way they clutch onto the steering wheel like it’s a life belt — they’re drowning in the traffic mess.

And where is everyone driving to? To malls and supermarkets, which leads me to my other holiday’s strong dislike: the crowds at malls and the long lines at supermarket tills. Everyone is out shopping or window shopping or stocking up on provisions for the trip upcountry. And to keep you company throughout this aggravating shopping experience, piped Christmas music is set on repeat.

You could avoid all of the above by staying home and watching TV, but what’s on? Innumerable commercials of Christmas offers and/or sales, where everything is at drastically, massively and amazingly reduced prices. The news isn’t any better as it’s mostly Christmassy news features and no actual news.

But by far Christmas TV movies are the worst. The stories are pretty much the same, with the one theme running through all of them being white Christmas. I can’t relate. Where’s the goat and the firewater, and the soup from the goat’s bones, aka thufu, and the cups of tea for akina mama, and the pilau and chapati? Now that’s an African-themed Christmas movie I’d watch.  

But Christmas is not these things I dislike about the holidays. It is instead the one day of the year you can just be; be by yourself, be with friends or family, be present in the moment, making merry and not thinking about what has gone before or what will come after the holidays.

Christmas is the day that holds all time together – Alexander Smith.