Danish Cookies and Christmas Movies – A Christmas in Surulere

December 25, 2021

What makes Christmas tick? Is it the Christmas spirit, food, family jokes or the quiet day you get because you were forgotten while travel plans were made? Reminisce with nostalgia as seven Nigerians share their favourite Christmas memories with Zikoko; the places and people that shaped their love for the season.

Between my little sister, mum, dad and I, Christmas was pretty laid back each year. We weren’t the type to throw parties or open presents under a tree; for us, Christmas was about food and laziness. I got to eat stuff I wouldn’t find in the cupboard on any other day of the year: chocolates, juice, and biscuits. And Christmas mornings were my favourite because we didn’t wake up to chores. Everything that needed to be cleaned was brushed or mopped the day before. 

My favourite Christmas started this way, with something extra special from NEPA. I remember this particular Christmas because we had uninterrupted power for two whole days at our flat on Simisola Street. It was so strange to wake up to light, then to have it all through the day and next? 

My sister and I woke up earlier than usual that Christmas, maybe due to the strange wind blowing us from the fan once they brought the light. The first thing I did with this gift from NEPA was rush into the living room to catch those early morning cartoons on cable. I switched on the Toshiba TV and cosied up on the couch with my sister. Thanks to our youngness, when Mumsi got up to cook two hours later at 8 a.m., we were allowed to continue watching TV. Mumsi loved to bake for Christmas. If I try, I can usually picture her in the kitchen, throwing in the ingredients in a bowl, mixing flour with milk for cakes and nutmeg for chin-chin. 

We had moved from cartoons to film and were in the middle of Dr Dolittle when dad walked in with treats for the day. These snacks usually came from the hampers he received from work. The hamper for this particular Christmas was so big, I’d been excited since the day he brought it in. It had huge bottles of cashew nuts, two jars of Horlicks, Goody Goody and then there were these cookies in a big, shiny, round blue container. They looked so elite. Sadly, we weren’t getting any of it until Christmas afternoon.

So when my dad walked in with the shiny blue tin, opened it and handed us three pieces each, My tastebuds were ready to be bamboozled. I wanted to savour every bite. I nibbled on the edges of the first one, scratched my tongue against the sugar on the second and left the third for too long in my mouth as I tried to lengthen the experience. It was so milky, so sugary. I begged for some more.

When mum was done in the kitchen, she handed us some bottles of mineral, with a plate of Jollof rice and grilled chicken for lunch. I took a sip of my drink and settled into the steamy plate of rice as we enjoyed the rest of the movies lined up for the day. 

I don’t know if it was the cookies or just the feeling from laughing together in the living room watching Christmas movies. Maybe it was the electricity we had all day, but this Christmas was it. Once that cold bottle of Fanta hit the roof of my mouth and dissolved the remaining sugar stuck to my teeth, I knew no other Christmas experience could top this.

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