Thursday, November 29, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Ogbomosho
Ogbomosho, Nigeria is the town I grew up in. Christmases there were so special. Nigeria is a country on the coast of West Africa just beneath the Sahara Desert. Christmas in Nigeria comes in the middle of the dry season in a special part of the dry season known as Harmattan.

Wikipedia defines Harmattan like this: The Harmattan is a dry and dusty West African trade wind. It blows south from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March. Humidity can drop to as low as 15 percent. In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog.

And against this backdrop, we celebrated Christmas. My father used to say he liked the fact that Christmas came in the middle of Harmattan. In America everything was stark, cold, and dreary with the trees bare and the air full of winter’s chill and in the middle of this otherwise dreary time, Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior with ornamented and brightly lit Christmas trees, gifts, good food, and Christmas cheer. Likewise in Nigeria, when the world is dry and dusty, all the leaves and grass are a dreary brown, Christians are celebrating the joyous birth of their Savior with songs and good cheer. The celebration in both countries injects cheer in an otherwise dreary season and proves that our joy over Christ is not based on our circumstances.

I loved the Christmases of my childhood! They were unique and wonderful. A missionary kid friend of mine, Peter Gilliland, has written a short memoir about his childhood memories of Christmas in Ogbomosho which I will post in two parts over the next few weeks. His memories are so similar to mine since we were both blessed to spend our childhoods in the 50’s and 60’s in the same wonderful town – Ogbomosho, Nigeria or as the Nigerians write it, Ogbomoso. (Their “s” is pronounced like an “sh”.)

On a humorous note, when I was a baby, I had very thin wispy blonde hair. During the Harmattan season the static electricity from the dry blowing air caused my hair to stand on end most of the time and my family fondly called me “Harriet the Harmattan cat” because my hair looked like the hair on the back of cats when they arch in fear or anger.


No comments:

Post a Comment