I know these colours well
I have loved them since I was little
They blended in a thousand hues and shades
And made everything feel Christmassy
In the old Decembers.

But in these new Decembers
These colours discolour purity
They paint friend and foe
These colours burn bridges between sisters
They divide brothers along party lines.

Oh party! I said party! I loved parties!
How I looked forward to them
In the old Decembers
But now I know
That party has other meanings too
And some parties are not good for December
They sap the spirit of the Season.

I used to rise to the sound of Christmas carols on Papa’s radio
And on our noisy neighbour’s radio too
GBC Radio 2 it almost always was
As though father had glued his dial to that station
And noisy neighbour had placed his under a large rock.

And set our cards sailing in good time.
I loved the foreign carols
Though a few of the local ones held their own
Alas, my taste for things exotic is older than a millennial
Am I to blame?
When mother is Fanti through and through?

To hear carols these new Decembers
That’s a thing fit to call rare.
When I do, it is often an aid in an ad
Honey-tongued people eager to cash in on the Season
Good to make the most out of festive times
But in times when wells and springs abound
We needn’t thirst for Love and Joy
As I think we do
In these new Decembers.

I walk through crowds in places of trade
Malls; marts; dusty, noisy markets
Money and good exchange hands at speedy pace
But buyer and seller share not the essence of the Season
Even though it would not cost an old Pesewa coin
With a hole punched in its centre
Still they share it not
In these new Decembers.

Hard paper, colour pencils, scissors, ribbons, cooked starch…
We made handcrafted greetings cards
Coloured them with the same colours that divide us today
Then to the central post office we raced
To lick the backs of postage stamps

But in these new Decembers
I have use for neither a paper craftsman nor a swift postman
No scissor tricks, no licks
Only a few clicks
And my card arrives across ten thousand miles
Great art; rich colours; endless variety
But there’s no feel; No soul.

Land guards did not exist; landlords did not resist
So free children found free land
And built huts with palm fronds and branches
Empty food cans we turned into drums –
Drums with polyethylene sheet faces
Stretched taut and belted tightly
With bands cut from old tyre tubes.

We made paper face masks
Bathed our faces in fragranced talcum powder
Boys even exchanged clothes
In a futile attempt to disguise ourselves
From our own families and neighbours.

Then from one house to the next we called
Singing, drumming, wishing all well
They blessing our bellies in return
Strings of Piccadilly biscuits growing longer.

The sweet smell of flavours –
Natural and manmade
Of vanilla essence
Of freshly squeezed pineapple and orange juices
Of homemade bakes and cakes
Such priceless olfactory experiences
From the good old Decembers.

The sights and sounds of crates of Coke, Fanta, Pepsi…
Exciting our eyes and ears and throats
Filling our heart with cherished cheer
Even the odd smell of that poor chicken in hot water
Oddly enough, had a feel-good flavour.

The atmosphere in town told a story
The air was sweet to breathe
The weather fairies had a swell time
They worked the elements well
And made the early hours beautiful and pleasantly cold
White smoke trailed our early morning words
Noisy neighbour’s home would be clothed in a fleeting ocean of fog
Besprinkled with Christmas lights.

Oh what fond memories of the Season we have!
Of festivals of 9 lessons and carols
Of Nativity plays in church and school
Of vacation parties in school
Of older siblings coming home from boarding school
Of cousins coming to spend the holidays with us
In the old Decembers.

Such priceless reminiscences!
Such irreplaceable thoughts!
Of cone-shaped paper hats and bean-shaped balloons
Of colourful toy watches and enviable spectacles
Of lucky dips and bonfire nights
Of fresh coats of paint on the hall walls
All belong to the old Decembers.

Oh what sweet nostalgia!
Of relatives abroad sending big parcels home
Of new clothes and new shoes
Of parties thrown by rich people
Of sailor-fathers and uncles
Whose ships berthed
At the Takoradi Harbour
On the 21st morning of an old December.

Whether of modest means or little means
All were rich in Love and Joy
All danced to the same brass band music
From colourful masqueraders
Music so good
The angels on duty moved a wing or two.

Did I grow up and out?
Or I’m I tied to the past?
And not abiding enough in the Now?
Or is the love of men simply losing warmth
In these new Decembers?

Laud E. Nyampong Freeman
December 2020