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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Preparing for Christmas

By Maria Famakinwa

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Christmas season, a period set aside by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ has always been an unusual one. For Christians, there is no other festive season ranked above it, especially as it ushers in the New Year.

Few days to Christmas, some residents of Akure, the Ondo State capital who spoke with The Hope about their preparations towards Christmas and New Year revealed that the celebration would be low key due to the economic situation. Some of them lamented high prices of foodstuffs and essential commodities and appealed to the government for urgent solutions.

A retailer at Arakale road, Mrs Chinyere Ndidi, who blamed low patronage to the rising cost of items complained that nothing seems to have improved with just few days to Christmas.

She said: “When the prices of groundnut oil was between N4,000 to N5000 for a five litre keg, I usually have different brands in stock. As we speak, the same keg sells for N7,500 and N 8000. I cannot even afford to stock as much as I would have wanted. Also, the prices of basic condiments for cooking have increased drastically and the content in the containers has also reduced. Families are crying across the country over high cost of living. Dealers are also lamenting low patronage. High cost of living is robbing Christmas celebration of its fun,” she said.

Sharing a similar view, Mr Ifeanyi, who sells bags of rice and beans at Oja-Oba market complained of poor sales and wondered if foods are no longer important. He said: “ You can see things for yourself, how many customers do you see in my shop? Ordinarily with few days to Christmas, I should be busy attending to customers. It is because there is no customer that makes me listen to your questions”.

Ifeanyi who blamed speculation for the hike in prices of foodstuffs recalled that he sold a bag of local rice for N22,000 around August this year and sold a bag of foreign rice in the same month for N27, 000.

He said: “As soon as it was November, the prices jumped up. We just hope that the government will do the needful to bring down prices of foodstuffs because food is very important and we must eat. It is worrisome that every where is dry when Christmas is around the corner.”

A resident of Oba-Ile, Mrs Idowu Ogunyemi, on her preparation for Christmas, hinted that she could only celebrate within her means to avoid needless financial problems.

Her words: “Christmas is a yearly celebration. We have celebrated many in the past and we will still celebrate more by God’s grace. The most important thing is that God spares our lives to witness it. I will do everything in moderation. I have told my children that they will wear the clothes they have at home due to situation of things. I cannot because of a day celebration forget other important needs at home.

“ It has become the norm for prices of goods and services to go up as Christmas season draws nearer. I can only celebrate within my means because as a salary earner, I have loans that I am servicing. Soon, another academic session will start. I cannot allow Christmas celebration to affect my children’s education,” she said.

In the submission of a civil servant with five children, Mr Adeola Adedoyin, he disclosed that things have not been easy for him and added that he would celebrate the Christmas with anything he has.

His words: “ If it is garri and beans I can afford for my family during Christmas, so be it. Prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities have remain high without increasing workers’ salaries. Prices of cooking gas are out of the reach of common man, kerosene is also unaffordable, with many mouths to feed, it is advisable for me to celebrate Christmas as it comes.

“Honestly, many citizens are not thinking about Christmas celebration, people are more concerned about feeding their families and paying their children school fees. My take home is no longer enough for me not to think of when my children are included. Christmas celebration in my home will be low key,” he said.

A Surveyor and a father of four, Mr Folabi Akintokun, revealed that this year’s Christmas would be different because he would reversed his earlier decision of allowing his children to visit his parents in the village due to financial challenges and insecurity.

His words: “ This will be the first Christmas celebration that I will do without giving out bags of rice to people. I still manage to do it last year, but this year, I can’t afford it. A bag of rice now sells for N30, 000 and above. Instead, I will give other things to show love to people which is what Christmas celebration is all about.

“Aside hike in prices of foodstuffs, insecurity is another issue affecting this year’s Christmas celebration. Though, I promised two of my children that they would be visiting my parents in the village, but my wife disagreed, citing insecurity which is obvious. The joy of Christmas cannot be felt under insecurity as the case in the country now. I will compensate my children with new clothes and shoes and stock the house with enough food and drinks to make the celebration memorable,” he said.

A medical doctor, who simply gave her name as Mrs Adebusuyi, in her contribution explained that every day should be Christmas celebration as long as there is life.

The woman revealed that she had done the necessary shopping for Christmas before now to avoid sellers exploitation at the eleventh hour. According to her, everything that could make the Christmas celebration memorable was already provided for. She however advised people against borrowing to celebrate Christmas and warned them to be cautious of the Omicron variant by using their nose masks.

She said: “It is an opportunity to celebrate another Christmas. All glory to God for keeping us. The message of Christmas is love and sacrifice and must radiate in our lives. We should celebrate within our means and be mindful of our safety while celebrating. We should avoid any crowded places and use our nose masks especially when going to the market. Omicron variant is deadly and spread fast. We should understand that it is only the living who will shout Happy New Year,” she warned.

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