I had a dream as a child. The dream was to have a White Christmas. Indeed, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” song informed my idea of a blissful Christmas Day. I used to imagine myself in a picturesque snow-covered land, sitting by a window as it snowed. When I had my first son and was still single, I decided to move to England to start a fresh life with him. I particularly planned my journey to fall within the Christmas season, so we could share my dream together.
I bought our tickets to arrive London on Christmas Eve. I boasted to all who listened that I was going to have a white Christmas. I berated my family with my version of “White Christmas”. I recall going to Yaba market in Lagos, a place popular for secondhand clothes to buy coats. I bought these now known as “oh my goodness!” coats for us. With so much pride, I took them to be dry-cleaned, telling the man at the laundrette about my impending white Christmas journey. I was also loud about it, so other customers could hear me.
On the 24th of December, my flight landed at Heathrow airport. Check me out! The African girl with a dream had arrived with her son! I peered out of the plane windows and the first thing that struck me was that there was no snow outside. The only thing outside was 7 degrees Fahrenheit (as announced by the crew). Coming from a country as hot as Nigeria, it was a chilly realisation. I asked myself… did you check the weather forecast to see if snow was due to fall in London on Christmas Day? Absolutely not! How I came to the conclusion that I was definitely having a White Christmas beats me. All I knew was that I was fulfilling a childhood dream. I reassured myself that it was Christmas Eve, so snow will definitely fall the next day.
I adorned my son and I with our coats and we walked off the plane. It didn’t take long for me to become aware of the sheer inappropriateness of our coats, as well as the ugliness of them. They were too light and very old fashioned. Not a single person wore anything like our coats. I was disappointed because the seller at Yaba market assured me that the styles were “in Vogue”. Refocusing on my snowy dreams, I quickly recovered from my inhibitions, walked with pride through immigration, and went straight to a family friend’s house.
Christmas Day arrived…no snow! Rather, my son and I were freezing to death. I even resorted to wearing those coats indoors, to the horror of my hosts. I kept asking them if snow would fall that day. Haha! I still recall them exchanging looks, and the constant rolling of the eyes. As night came, it slowly dawned on me that Bing Crosby’s song was about his dream and a long distance memory. It never said snow fell every Christmas Day outside Africa.
On Boxing Day, snow finally fell. It was the most magical sight I had ever seen. I sat by the window and watched as the flakes descended onto the earth. I was in complete awe, as it formed the most beautiful white blanket I had ever seen. My dream had come true! It wasn’t Christmas Day, but I didn’t care. It was compensatory. It snowed! I refused to go outside with my friends because part of my dream was to sit by a window, and watch the snow fall. That was exactly what I did.
27th of December…and
The next day, my son and I wore our “oh my goodness” coats and stepped outside for some photo opportunities. I needed my friends and family in Nigeria to see proof of a dream fulfilled. I stepped outside without caution, son in tow. Within seconds, I was on the ground. No one told me snow is slippery when it’s melting away. To make matters worse, I dragged my son down with me, causing him to wail in horror. I managed to glide back into the house, to nurse my sprained ankle. To cut the story short, I soon learned that winter and snow are not all that you read in fairytales or hear in songs. White Christmas is not guaranteed either. Subsequently, during that winter, my son and I caught the flu. We were so ill with it that I thought we were going to die. He also caught the winter bug – vomiting. In fact, the rest of the season went in blur.
Winter and Health
The key to enjoying winter is keeping warm. Wear appropriate warm clothes. Keep the house warm. Be more active. If you are in the UK, check the criteria for qualifying for flu jabs, and go for it. Eating and drinking well will give you the energy you need during winter. You can’t go wrong with balanced hot meals and drinks. Wash your hands regularly. The flu virus and the winter bugs are rampant during the cold season. Snow is an aesthetic result of a very very cold weather. Please wear appropriate shoes when it snows. Make sure that they’ve got good traction. 17 years later, I still recall my fall. If you are travelling to a cold country from a tropical one, check the weather, and make sure you buy suitable clothes. Please forget the Vogue aspect and focus on Health!