When I first became a Christian, Christmas took on a whole new meaning for me. I would be at a carol service, or a department store, I’d hear a Christmas carol and tears would be rolling down my face, because of my full comprehension of God coming down to earth, as a baby. You cannot help but recognise that when the Saviour of the World was born, there was no room for him, so for me, it’s important to make room for others during this season.
You cannot help but recognise that when the Saviour of the World was born, there was no room for him, so for me, it’s important to make room for others during this season.
As a baker, Christmas is a busy time for me, baking and decorating gifts for others. On Christmas Eve, as a family, we usually have an open house. I bake cupcakes and cookies, and there is hot chocolate (and squirty cream) on tap. All the action and the best conversations happen in the kitchen and occasionally spills out into the living room. Our home is open from 9am until the last guest chooses to leave. Even the postman pops in with our last post before Christmas, and sometimes customers pop in to pick up their Christmas orders. I am always surprised at who takes up our offer and shows up. It’s also really interesting to see how brilliantly our guests get along, they are different ages, faiths, stages, and walks in life, but it is always such a beautiful atmosphere. I suppose this how we as a family celebrate diversity at Christmas; through hospitality.
Christmas is not always a joyful time for everyone. Some people pop in on their way to their families for the festive break. Spending time with family will mean another year of questions like “why are you still single?” or “when are you going to bring home a nice girl?” Time with their families may mean not spending time with someone they are not quite ready to bring to the family dinner table. An hour or so in our company is some pre-festive sanity, before they put on a front, or put up with being the butt of the family jokes.
As the UK government guidelines keep shifting, I’m not really sure how Christmas Eve this year will pan out. The rule of six just won’t work with us (especially if the postman pops in) and we are a family of huggers.
Christmas Day is usually just my husband and our daughters. Again, we extend our hospitality to anyone who doesn’t want to be on their own. We set the table and make room for an extra setting. Sometimes someone takes up our offer and sometimes not. We have this little ritual in our home, where we say grace and wait a few minutes, in case there is a knock at the door.
When it comes to festive food, we celebrate our cultural heritage and influences. As my husband spent many years in Greece, we always have a Greek salad starter. Christmas dinner is traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings, but there has to be room on the table for some Jollof rice. My family are from Sierra Leone and my husband is from Nigeria, you could start anything from a heated debate to a full-blown war by asking which country cooks the best Jollof rice. I’m the only one who likes Christmas pudding, so dessert is usually Key Lime Pie. So that’s Greece, West Africa and the United States in one table setting.
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