I'm indifferent to the holiday season. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that I positively dislike the holiday season, because with it comes great inconveniences such as the absence of mail, the closure of banks, and screwy bus schedules. But my contempt for the holidays is not entirely inspired by practical or functional reasons; a good part of it has to do with the fact that it is a Western holiday, not an African one.

Now I very well know that as far as Africans go, my upbringing and family are very Western. But for some reason, of all the Western things we readily adopted (language, clothes, food), we completely rejected the holiday season. We just didn't dig it.

During the holiday months, our home in Harare, Zimbabwe contained not one Christmas light, no tree, no decoration. As for Christmas presents, our parents skipped the whole ritual of buying, hiding, and opening presents and simply handed my sister and I cold cash. After shopping, we just hung around the house, waiting for the fucking holidays to pass.

But then one year (1986, to be precise), my baby brother forced us to celebrate Christmas. He had just started his first year of elementary school, and was appalled to discover that his family's response to the holiday season was by no means normal. "How come we're not like the other kids in my class?" he complained bitterly. "They have Christmas presents and big dinners." My mother felt sorry for him, so she forced me, the eldest son, to prepare a real Christmas for the little bugger. This meant I had to find a fucking pine tree (in Africa!), buy and wrap gifts, and worst of all, I and everyone else had to wake up early in the morning to watch him open the damn things. It was all very fake and frustrating.

Kudzai Mudede, now that you are 19, what do have to say about this? Do you remember it at all? I still hold it against you.


Charles dear, I am afraid to say that I find myself almost undeserving of any sort of vindication for the admittedly poor judgment I displayed on that Christmas of 1986. It may be of no consequence for me to say this now, but I was instantly aware of my miscalculation on that very Christmas Day. Whereas I could have received my obligatory dose of "cold cash" and invested in a Luke Skywalker doll, a walkie-talkie, or my blossoming glue-sniffing habit, I was instead given the most inappropriate gathering of pathetically malformed toys that I should ever care to remember. Indeed, the Kudzai Mudede of 1986 was not a villain but a victim. So, Charles, please forgive me, and stand by me because it's Christmas time again, and lord knows we need each other to get through it all.