Category Archives: Christmas

Please Keep The “Faux” Sanctity of Christmas and Santa Claus Alive.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “My Hero.”

My Hero is the parent who struggles to keep the Faux pristine joyfulness of Christmas

When I was young I used to look forward to Christmas like most kids. Growing up my parent never told me or my siblings any of those make-believe stories about Santa and the gifts he brings. But this did not change the fact that I enjoyed the holiday though.  The main reasons I loved Christmas were:

  1. My ever so busy Investment Banker of a Dad was at home for like two weeks and we all got to hang-out with him.
  2. I did not have to go to school.
  3. I got to eat so much food, and all the sweet stuff that my dad was gifted in hampers.
  4. Hmmmm,I am trying to remember the others. Loading…..

You know that brief period in your teens when everyone and everything around you is just stupid and annoying, and you just feel like “What the FUcK is wrong with these people” and you just want to go to be in a different planet and be away from it all. Now I look back at that time and I just wonder “What was I even thinking”….lol. Those are the motions of growing up though, ahhhhh fun time. Ok back to my point, during that period I would watch movies and hear of these parents that tell their children Faux stories to get them all excited about the holiday. I would hear these stories and just think “why don’t these knuckle-heads just grow a pair and tell their kids the truth”. Then, it did not make sense that kids were being lied to, to make them happy.

Like 10 or more year later I am beginning to see reason to the choice of parents and their stories. Right now I work and earn a living for myself. I still live with my parents. When I say I live with my parents I don’t mean like one of those dilapidating co-dependent parent-child relationship that is just bleh! like the one portrayed in the movie “Failure to launch”. (hahahahahaha….I don’t  know I just had a strong need to defend and clarify my status as a parent “co-inhabiter’). I pay my bill all on my own, except I don’t pay rent. Back to the point, now that I am grown I see a different side to Christmas. I see the side which has parents running around and toiling like crazy to keep the innocence and joy of their kids intact. I see people who have to work extra hard this period to make enough money to enable them afford the luxury of a fun and happy holiday for their kids.

I write to you from Nigeria, where the hardship that people go though could not be any clearer. It’s Christmas, and yet you can barely feel it in the atmosphere. People are apprehensive about what the falling price of crude oil will mean for the nation now and for the year to come.  To rephrase Charles Dickens, “It is the best of times; it is the worst of times”. It’s such a bittersweet Christmas for many Nigerians, but they still have to make the family happy.

When I see all of this ugliness that is present, and in which people have to thrive in, I think kids should be allowed to keep their innocence.

#Santa

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Shhhh….Quiet Please, It’s Over Already.

To everyone who just wrote a paper or two in the just concluded ACCA (Association Of Chartered Certified Accountants) December examination session, I wish you guys all the best and hope that all those months of studying and attending long boring lectures pays-off good. The ACCA syllabus is usually so broad that studying for an examination ensures that your social life and even your personal life are crushed to the barest minimum during the time being. ACCA is like a jealous girlfriend that consumes all your attention with no recourse, she makes sure you don’t have time for your friends let alone other girls. Which is why during this brief period while she is back at her parents’ house (Aka…while papers are being graded) you should do yourself a world of good by tearing things up. Go clubbing, catch up on the TV shows you missed, essentially everything you would normally not have time for while studying.

As tough as the ACCA examination can be to deal with, one thing or should I say one set of people that are even tougher to deal with are those people who always want to compare notes immediately after the examination. Usually when the invigilator gives the instruction for everyone to leave the hall, you will spot them as the ones who are quicker than most to make their way through the rows.  They are the ones who seem like they are almost running towards the door, you would think they are rushing for another paper or something, unfortunately they aren’t. Why are they rushing? They want to go out early enough to trap people and cajole them into talking about the paper. One time I saw a guy waiting anxiously at the door, he looked like an artiste at the Grammys waiting to be called up the stage for an award. Immediately he saw these two guys, apparently he must have known them previously; he yanked them off the crowd to the corner, and the first question was “guys…how did you solve the number 4 section B question?” when I go further out of the hall, I encounter further small and large groups of people all doing the same thing, talking about an examination that already ended. And I wonder to myself, are these people masochists?

At this point I am sure you would be wondering what exactly my point is. My point is that I believe it to be the most foolish act of self-inflicted deprecation to linger around the examination hall discussing about something to which you no longer have the power to impact any change on. Think about this way, you leave the examination hall and immediately join a group of people who are discussing the examination and then you find out from all these talking that you have missed eight of the ten questions you had to answer. How depressing is that? Why not leave the examination, go home have fun for about a month and a half (ACCA timing) without thinking about if the balance sheet you prepared balanced or not? When it comes to examination result, I like to apply the “delayed gratification” psychology in reverse. Delayed gratification involves depriving one’s own self of small immediate gains in hope of greater gains in the future by being patient.

A research done by American psychologist, Walter Mischel, buttresses this point. In an experiment by Walter and his colleagues at Stanford University, they presented four-year-olds with a marshmallow and told the children that they had two options: (A.) ring a bell at any point to summon the experimenter and eat the marshmallow, or (B) wait until the experimenter returned about 15 minutes later, and earn two marshmallows. The results were quite revealing and educative. Mischel found that children were able to wait longer if they used certain “cool” distraction techniques (covering their eyes, hiding under the desk, singing songs, or imagining pretzels instead of the marshmallow in front of them), or if they changed the way they thought about the marshmallow (focusing on its similarity to a cotton ball, rather than on its gooey, delectable taste). The children, who waited longer, when re-evaluated as teenagers and adults, demonstrated a striking array of advantages over their peers. As teenagers, they had higher SAT scores, social competence, self-assuredness and self-worth, and were rated as their parents as more mature, better able to cope with stress, more likely to plan ahead, and more likely to use reason. They were less likely to have conduct disorders or high levels of impulsivity, aggressiveness and hyperactivity. As adults, the high delayers were less likely to have drug problems or other addictive behaviors, get divorced, or get overweight. Each minute that a preschooler was able to delay gratification translated to a .2% reduction in Body Mass Index 30 years later.

Applying “delayed gratification” in reverse to the examination context; it would be more like “delayed mortification”. It’s very simple, going ahead to discuss an already completed examination and finding out that you have failed woefully will make your grief period start earlier than it should, and thus last longer. Because when the results do come out, and now you have factual evidence of your failure, the sadness, depression, anger etc will stretch out further. My advice is, if you finish an examination you should just leave immediately no matter how well or bad you think you have performed. If you are in fact dragged into one of those potentially self-deprecating conversations, try and limit the length of your responses and never give definite ones. Just say things like “it was ok”, “I am hopeful” things like that. This is because if you don’t it can go two ways. The first way is that, you did in fact do very well on the examination and by talking about your answers you make a couple of people sad about their own performance, you might even draw upon yourself some level of hatred for this. The second way is that you did not perform well and by talking with those who have done quite well you feel quite sad and filled with despair. Your self-confidence is majorly battered. So why not delay this impending period of gloom and just have fun for the time being, do the things that make you the most happy, who knows by so doing you might actually be preparing yourself better for the fall. Plus its Christmas, who wants to spoil the holiday spirit by thinking about failure all thru, that’s just insane.

Again I wish everyone around the world who wrote examinations of any kind, not just ACCA, success, and if you do not pass, well the world goes on. After all Abraham Lincoln lost Eight!!!! elections before becoming President of USA. Perseverance is Key.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS PEOPLE.

 

Simple Advice: If you encounter those overtly insistent one just say to them “Shhhh….Quiet Please, It’s Over Already.”

Fear of The “Ember” Months

September. October. November. December.

To many around the world these months have a religious significance. These months bring forth the spirit of happiness, sharing and celebration. During this segment of the year; from east to west, north to south the world is wrapped in various types of celebratory activities. The Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Chanukah / Hanukkah, African Americans in the U.S celebrate Kwanza and Buddhists celebrate Diwali etc. I have also been told that Atheists, although they don’t have a generally known holiday, spend more time with their friends and families during this period. Although these religions vary in the way they carryout festive rituals, there is a common denominator, a common concept. This common denominator is that spirit of sharing and love. It is during this time of year that you can see people of different faiths let go of their prejudices for each other and just relish in the moment. There is gift sharing, family dinners and parties everywhere. In this period Investment Bankers and the likes, take time off their very busy schedules to just be and relax. There is joy and laughter in the air everywhere you go, it is quite infectious.

Down here in Nigeria things aren’t so different. The people here have the same joyful spirit flowing around but it is tainted with a very dark fear. Fear that is embedded in the minds of people regardless of their social or economic place in the society. A fear that grips everyone from the elderly to the young, no one is immune. This fear stems from the fact that these celebratory months have a history of being ravaged by a huge wave of crimes of various types. Car thefts, burglaries, rapes, ritual killings among other despicable acts, skyrocket to such heights relative to other months. The one that quite baffles me is the issue of ritual killings, given the magnitude of church programs in this country; it is quite ironic to see that there is such a high occurrence of fetish activities. The entire country is held spellbound as scores of social deviants perpetuate incredible horror in the country. Parents inflict greater restriction on the mobility of their children while adults abstain from unnecessary outings and activate self-imposed curfews on themselves. No one can really place the particular date when things went arye, but it is quite a terrible situation.

During this period in Nigeria, especially in the month of December, people begin the annual pilgrimage to their hometowns. In Abuja, Lagos and other urban cities people pack their bags, service their cars or buy plane tickets in anticipation of the trip. This yearly pilgrimage is mostly prevalent among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. No matter how rich or poor, young or old an Igbo man or woman is in the city, when the month of December rolls around they do not hesitate to answer that home call. They shop for the best dresses, shoes, cars and other personal and household items which they carry along with them to their hometowns, where they can show off to their rural counterparts how successful they have been in the city. There is this pressure everyone carries around with them during this time to try and outdo the next person. At this time of the year markets are extremely crowded with herds of people seeking to grab first before stocks run out. For many, much of the income saved from January is spent in a space of about one week. The cause of the fear lies in this very pronounced culture of trying to outdo the others and be seen in a particular light.

In the book “Discourse on Inequality”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes us see that humans have inadvertently turned themselves into slaves of their own wants and desires. I find his writing quite interesting because, he attempts to buttress the true “nature” of man by peeling away all these layers of lies and facades he has coated himself with to seem superior to others. He highlights the danger of this unnatural tendency that man possess to want to alter his true nature, by deceiving, cheating and killing his fellow man to possess material things. In summary Jean-Jacques Rousseau alludes to the fact that, like a vestigial organ, man has rendered his moral sense of judgment useless so as to achieve his selfish objectives and thus has in effect deviated from his real self. Applying Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy to the situation at hand, it is quite obvious that this same tendency is very much at play still. Those who perpetuate these reprehensible acts have a desire to seem “successful” to their peers at home, and thus would go to great lengths (even at the expense of lives) to reach their “unnatural” goals.

This year in Nigeria is no different. On my way to the office today, I heard a rather grueling story of rape and extortion. This horrific act took place in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. I don’t have the full details of the story, but this is what I could gather. The story goes like this:

The woman (name withheld), residing in Gwarinpa, on Monday told the police her ordeal. The lady said she boarded a taxi from Gwarinpa to Wuse.

“The driver sprayed air freshener in the cab. I woke up in an uncompleted building naked and messed up. I received an envelope the next day containing a video disk showing how I was raped. The envelope also contained a demand for me to pay 5 million naira (about $31,000) into an account in one of the new generation banks”.  More.

Imagine the height of inhumanity; as if it wasn’t traumatic enough to rape her, they are demanding a ransom. This is just LUDICROUS!!!. As sad as the story is, the real tragedy is that, before the year runs out, we are going to hear more stories of a similar nature. Some more haunting and horrifying than this. The law enforcement in Nigeria is not as efficient and effective as we would like it to be. So if you are in Nigeria right now or scheduled to be here, please take extreme precaution. Regulation is key, try and limit unnecessary movements. These villains have no aorta of human sympathy and should not be toyed with.