Anyway, for the few folks who check up on me, you get a preview! Blessings on Tasha, who helped SO MUCH!!
As we set the table for Kwanzaa my youngest daughter Grace sets out baskets and sings The 12 Days of Christmas, repeating the phrase, “Two Turtle Doves” about a half bajillion times.
“Oh right. Harambee then!”
Together we set fake fruit in the baskets to represent the harvest.
“Who remembers the seven principles of Kwanzaa?” I ask. Everyone crowds closer around the table, picking the piece of fruit which will represent them in the basket. Nearly everything on the table is handmade, including the pine needle baskets, made by my sister who learned the craft from the granddaughter of a slave who learned it from her grandmother.
“And that means Unity,” I remind her.
(Caption – Jasmine lights the Kujichaguilia Candle)
“Ujima- Collective Work and Responsibility,”
“So you’ll be doing all the chores?” I deadpan. Nobody responds.
“Ujamaa, which is Cooperative Economics,”
“Does Etsy count?”
Snow hurries us on to her candle. “Nia. Purpose.” She has dropped by on her way to work and wears her uniform instead of the usual brightly colored dashiki shirt.
It’s my turn now. I light my candle. “Kuumba, Creativity. By the way, how are everyone’s gifts coming along? Do we need a craft store run?”
The kids look guilty. While everyone no doubt has a plan for the handmade gifts we give each other on January 1st, I have a feeling they’re in the Kuumba stage and don’t have much Nia. (Caption- I wonder if
“Imani,” My husband,
Tonight, we pass the cup and everyone names someone who has influenced their lives. We drink a toast to them.
(Caption – A little celebration drumming)
“And what part does bingo have to do with all this?” Jasmine asks cynically.
I smile. “That’s the part that’s uniquely us. That’s the fun of Kwanzaa.”
“Actually, weren’t there lots of games of chance played during holidays and festivals all over the world? So I’m pretty sure there is an African tradition somewhere that would translate into something like bingo,” interjects
“Leave it to a Pagan to rationalize bingo during an African holiday,”
Jasmine won’t be put off, however. “Mom, come on. White parents, black kids. Hel-loo! How does Kwanzaa compute in a family like this? Most of the black kids in my school don’t even celebrate this, why do WE?”
I think back to when our family grew in one day from a family of four, to a family of nine. It’s been almost fourteen years, but I still feel tired when I think of the chaos and sheer busy life that happened when we adopted a sibling group of five kids from
Yes, this was a holiday I could embrace! I couldn’t ignore the signs of a commercial Christmas all around, but I could make Kwanzaa into the handmade, family centered holiday I had always wanted for my family.
(Caption – The Kwanzaa table is set)
“Jasmine, we celebrate Kwanzaa because I am the mom, and I said so.” “Yes Mom,” she answered obediently, rolling her eyes. “Can we play bingo now?”
“Help me with the food, and then I get to call the numbers first!” We set up a buffet with southern food and spicy African dishes. As the kids pick their bingo cards, and find pillows to sit on, I look around at my family, and find myself completely content with life. This is how a family holiday is supposed to be.
(Caption – Ant with