Road accidents statistics show that they occur more frequently in December than in any other month of the year. Perhaps than all the other months combined. This trend holds for a few other things- good and bad- including marriages and break ups, births and killings.
December has become so notorious in our calendar in these parts that you sometimes feel people are living and working for December. It feels like everything we do all year round is to bring us to December. Hence you see religious and financial bodies organizing grand events in December with congratulatory messages to make you feel that you have arrived your annual destination- December.
While I cannot tell you in all truthfulness that I do not see the benefit of the commercialization and spiritualization of December, I daresay that this has affected the basic mindset of the populace. Nothing proves this point more than the general lethargy we witness in this part every January. Because most of us have celebrated our December like it was our last, January becomes a burden.
So what do we expect from this December? Yes, like always, the usual. The Church conventions where they let you know how blessed you are to be counted amongst those at the December finish line; the End of the Year parties of big corporations who go all out to celebrate whatever it is they are celebrating with astronomical sums of money that makes one wonder what GLs they write-off. These parties are justified under the notion of “work hard and party harder”. It would be out of sorts not to expect our compatriots in diaspora to surface (I already did a piece on this); and not to expect our Politicians to send their usual impersonal message on how the season should encourage us to be our brothers’ keepers and reflect on the values that make us strong (and them stronger by our votes).
I don’t think the preceding paragraph covers all what December is about in these parts (that will take books to completely discuss), but I hope it gives my reader an insight deep enough to understand the remainder of this piece in the context in which it was meant to be understood.
So what is in all of these December arrangements for you? Well, unless you are a big corporation, church, politician, or one of their contractors, ZILCH! The commercialization of December leaves the average man worse off. He saves his hard-earned money, painstakingly accumulating one kobo on top of another just so he can spend it all at a go in the Spirit of the season.
The average man is inundated with various requests and suggestions on how to make the season count. Ranging from the demure suggestion of having a family getaway within his budget, to the brazen invitation to a VVIP event where the tickets sell at 300% the minimum wage. The average man is made to believe that the only way he can show appreciation to his Creator for his sustenance all year round is to live a little ostentatiously for the last month of the year to “shame his enemies”.
December becomes a contest. High school reunions are scheduled, age grade thanksgiving services are booked and extended families converge once again to have gossip fodder for the New Year. Hampers are passed from the poor to the rich to show appreciation of their support in letting the poor climb slowly the ladder of success; and charity is taken to the less privilege with a camera in hand.
After 31 days of keeping up appearances, with maddening intensity in the final 10 days, the buzz suddenly fades. The streets littered with garbage of the previous night’s celebrations heralds the New year. The more severe harmattan chill in January has more to do with the forlorn realization of a bad decision than of global warming. Everywhere, more like everybody, is calm and the buoyant zest for life has dissipated. January becomes a torture and we just go through the motions till we can kick start our year with the love of February.
This has become the vicious annual cycle of a people, and like victims of abuse we refuse to let go. Help yourself today and plan for January even as you refuse to lose control in December.