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Opinions of Saturday, 23 December 2006

Columnist: Ayiku, Charles Nii

All Too Soon It's Christmas! - A sensible guide on a trouble-free celebration

All too soon, we are coming to the end of another great year, but before we say a very big farewell to year 2006, we need to celebrate another Christmas. I know a lot of people have already planned for this celebration, but for some, the HIPC condition is really getting them down.

As we all know, Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a holiday in the Christian calendar, observed on December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus' birth, or nativity, fulfils the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin and bridge the separation between God and mankind. The precise chronology of Jesus' birth and death as well as the historicity of Jesus are still debated.

In countries like Ghana which have large Christian communities, Christmas has become the most economically significant holiday of the year. It is largely characterized by exchanging gifts within families, and by gifts brought by Father Christmas or Santa Claus,( a big jolly man with a white beard) . Do you remember KINGSWAY STORES and Father Christmas? I have really missed those years. How much were we even paying to see Father Christmas? Anyway! The word Christmas is a contraction of Christ's Mass, derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse and referring to the religious ceremony of mass. It is often abbreviated to Xmas, probably because X or Xt have often been used as a contraction for Christ. The English letter X resembles the Greek letter? (chi), the first letter of Christ in Greek (???st?? transliterated as [Christos]). Crimbo is an informal synonym used in British English. Xmas is pronounced the same as Christmas, but most people just say X-Mas. In a walk through the city of Accra, one would realize how busy people are; shopping and making sure they have a pleasant and an enjoyable Christmas. Our radio and television stations are also giving us a lot of information as well as playing good Christmas songs. Our pickpockets and robbers are all over the place, making sure they celebrate Christmas the 'wicked' way, but I hope we are taking note of their presence. Our "Big Men" and sugar daddies have also started receiving the lists of items to buy for their Sugar-babies, these include, mobile phones, dresses, outside travels and shopping abroad. Sorry to our big men for this trouble, but they asked for it, so they should enjoy it. I know some of our big men would pretend to be busy, or pick up quarrels and all sort of strategies to "swerve" their sugar babies, but for the smart sugar babies, if you try, they would put serious pressure on you. Taking time to plan your celebrations properly is something most Ghanaians don't do. What most of us do is to think about how to make money and how to spend the money. It is important for us to do proper planning and also understand the celebrations. This would help us achieve a pleasant celebration. Below are my suggestions towards successful, stress free and pleasant celebrations: - Everyone needs to make Christ the centre of their Christmas. The busier we are with Christmas preparations, the easier it is to forget the importance of what we are celebrating. Christmas is not about gifts, it's not about the twinkling eyes of children, it's not about a Christmas tree and special cookies and a family gathered around a feast on Christmas Day. It's about Christ and about what He came to give us. Take time to read the Christmas story several times in the next few days. - Set a limit on Christmas spending and stick to it. Don't celebrate Jesus' birth by being in debt in January. - Plan your night out so you are not walking the streets looking for somewhere suitable to go. If you are not sure of where to go, stay at home. - Whilst you are out, you are much more likely to stay safe if you have other people around you. Please go out in groups. Also, walking in well-lit areas keeps you in view of other people. - When driving, make sure that your car has sufficient fuel for your journey and plan your route. Be careful and never go out with 'one gallon' - it can be dangerous for you, especially when you decide to drop friends off at their destinations. Avoid offering lifts to strangers. If you live in Accra, I hear the Spintex Road and the Tema Motorway areas are very dangerous these days, so please be very careful. - Getting home at the end of the night can be a problem, especially when you are not driving. Try and plan how you are going to get home before you set out for the evening. - A lot of parties are being organized in many parts of our cities and towns, most of these parties may start late in the evening-till day break. In these parties, alcoholic beverages are served and for most young people, it is an opportunity for them to booze their heads off and have 'dangerous' celebrations. What frightens me is about the way some ladies are intoxicated during these parties, please our ladies be very careful with the kind of parties you attend and don't forget, Christmas is not about sex, and AIDS is real. Watch your drinks, the food you eat and where you spend the after party night. - People can also avoid possible disaster by turning off Christmas candles when leaving their homes. Many people burn candles this time of year especially when there are Carols Nights etc. They should always be monitored and placed on a firm base. Although candles can be pretty, they are still dangerous. The candle is an open flame. - Fire crackers, especially 'knock-outs' are very dangerous. I know they have been banned in Ghana, but most people still have a lot of them in storage. They can be very dangerous and can cause fire. Young people especially, should be cautious and should not joke with them.

If you have young children, remember how important, normal routine and sleep schedules are for younger children and you. Taking a cranky toddler shopping is not a good experience for anyone. I also want to remind our security agencies to help protect us this festive season as they always do. The Fire Service and all other agencies should also be on the alert. So, that is all I have for you. I also want to take this opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year. God Bless Ghana.



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