Once again, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”! I simply cannot get enough of the dry harmattan air, the early morning and evening haze, the bustling energy seemingly at boiling point across the major markets and shopping malls as buyers and sellers rush to make last minute transactions. Then there is the awesome food. Speaking of which, would any Christmas/ New Year’s Day menu be complete without the wonderful staple of jollof rice? Our Mum’s Yuletide jollof rice is simply the best. No contest! Add her equally delicious teeth sinking – lip smacking- finger licking fried fresh chicken, and the world to a young me then could not have been more perfect! So tasty was her jollof rice that you would find me happily scrapping away and eating the burnt ‘bottom pot’ portion of the rice even after a couple of days as though my life depended on it!
Another fun aspect of this jolly season is the decorations. Everywhere takes on a new lustre and gaiety with the beautiful Christmas decorations, especially the Christmas trees. An interesting incident with my Christmas tree a couple of years back comes to mind. It all started when a couple of weeks after the painstaking decoration of the newly purchased Christmas tree, my young son decided to test its structural stability by giving it a hard shove and in the process got the tree broken. Since “tis the season to be jolly”, he missed getting a good spanking by the whiskers. The good thing about his escapade was that I had serendipitously wound up with two trees for the price of one, even though the bigger lower portion reminded me of a headless chicken!
Fast forward to Christmas the following year, and once more it was time to decorate. I stubbornly brought out the ‘two’ trees as there was no plan for replacement of the tree. As far as I was concerned, I was yet to get my full money’s worth. The decoration results were not satisfactory. Some tweaking was definitely required. How does one add some spice to this I am thinking? Looking around, my eyes alight on the set of traditional pots and sticks that are an integral part of the home decoration. The sticks in question are utilized by the Fulani locals of Northern Nigeria for mixing balls of ground millet with fresh yoghurt to create the popular and refreshing ‘Fura da Nunu’ delicacy. A light bulb moment hit me. Why not journey through a different decoration route by ‘creating’ different trees from the combination of the traditional sticks with the severed upper portion of the Christmas tree?
Voila! On came my creative hat, and magically seized by the excitement of the Christmas spirit, I worked feverishly on the new concept. The end result of the decoration cum installation exercise may be loosely described as an amalgam of indigenous and foreign elements on the one hand or contemporary meets traditional style. By far the favourite element of the entire composition was the ‘Fura da Nunu’ sticks with its abundance of ornaments, lights and beaded garland. The scene it evoked, in my estimation was reminiscent of ladies gorgeously bedecked in jewellery ready to hit one or more of the numerous parties that characterise the season! So in summary, what lessons did I learn during the whole process? The best results especially in the world of design sometimes happen entirely by accident.
In the very slim event that you have left your decorating till the very last minute like I have this year (my dear fellow lastminute.com peeps), here are some quick ‘last minute’ tips for achieving a well decorated tree. One may as well aim for the full decoration marks to make up for the delay at the very least.
- First things first, invest in a good quality tree for durability and longevity
- Choose a concept encompassing the design and the colour theme for the decorations.
- Vary the textures and sizes of ornaments for interest. Combine matt surfaces with shiny surfaces or big with small
- Always use a topper for the Christmas tree. A topper is akin to icing on a cake. Various types include stars, angels, Santa Claus and even, every day ribbon.
- A pro-guide to increasing the height of a small tree is the placement of the tree in a suitable container- an urn, a decorated fired clay pot or the ubiquitous plastic planter. A 60cm tree can become 90cm with such an arrangement.
- For ease of hanging the lights, begin from the top to the bottom in a spiral pattern as though peeling an orange! Properly secure the lights with the tree branches.
- Invest in garlands as they add that extra beauty and in some instances, bulk to the tree. Garlands could be in the form of stringed beads or the more popular and available tinsel (shiny shredded lightweight strips).
“May your Christmas be merry and bright!”
Photo Credit: Lead Image – Darren Baker | Dreamstime.com /Other images – The author