The Christmas gifts

It was Christmas season 1972. My sister and I were so excited, we were going to attend a children’s Christmas party organized by the Bank of Uganda for the employees’ children. My mother worked in the currency section of the Bank then. I had a number of friends from school whose parents, especially mothers, worked with my mother. It was, therefore, going to be fun. The party was held in Luzira, a Kampala suburb.
While our parents sat down to talk to each other and catch up (how boring, I thought) we children played games, drank soda, ate cake and pop corn and other goodies. As the party progressed and at the peak of our fun, the near arrival of Father Christmas was announced. We all awaited him with great anticipation. This was the first ever Christmas party I had attended; the thought of seeing Father Christmas  was too good to be true. I only saw pictures of him on cards and in films. Indeed, it was a wowing effect when he came, running, and announced to us that he had run all the way from Australia to Kampala. I believed him. He was white; and, since he was sweating, he must have come all the way from Australia, running. There was no reason to doubt him. He was clad in a red trouser and a white vest. He disappeared into the buildings and came out adorned in full Father Christmas attire. The cape, the long white beard, the red apparel captivated us. More sodas, sweets, music, it was real party time. We danced and played and run and shouted.
As the evening wore away and the party nearing closure, it was time for the long awaited presents. Father Christmas had come with a big sack, bearing our gifts. He read out name by name, and children picked their gifts and unwrapped them. It was excitement and the sound of ripping paper as children unwrapped their gifts – dolls, toy cars, aeroplanes and many other beautiful toys. My sister and I received our gifts and with excitement ripped open the wrapping. A little shocking, it was. I was expecting to get a doll, a big doll, like the ones I saw my friends with. Our gifts were 3 pairs of beautiful knickers each; and they were wrapped in some sheets of an old calendar. My heart sank, my spirit was dampened. I hurriedly folded my strange wrapping paper to keep my friends from seeing it, for theirs were wrapped in shiny glossy and bright paper. I was embarrassed. At 7, my little brain had other ideas.

Now I know better. I laugh at it, but I also cry. When I grew up I appreciated my mother for doing her best and gifting to us what she could afford. She had made sure we attended the party and had fun at all costs. After all, the wrapping paper, cheap or expensive, was for ripping apart, anyway! Mummy had given us a good surprise, and she explained when we got home. What mattered was the spirit of giving. She gave us what she could afford, and it was not a competition. As we sulked, she reminded us that some children were not privileged to attend that party. We cheered up and gave her hearty hugs.
I love you mummy for taking us to that party, for the gifts, and, especially, for the innovative wrapping. We attended the party and we had fun. And we saw Father Christmas, ‘all the way from Australia!’
Our mother was and will always be special. She always makes things happen.

©Alexandra Kukunda (2015)

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