Well, technically, it wasn’t HER who stole it, but... ...what’s a big brother to do if little sis cries uncontrollably and persistently, begging to eat chicken?! After all, it was Christmas Day! Tantalizing scents of delicious chicken being cooked on charcoal fires all around were making her mouth water like crazy. Praise REALLY wanted to also indulge in this very special and extremely rare treat! She was going to turn 6 the next day. But nobody even wasted a thought on that. Remembering birthdays wasn’t exactly part of the culture of the day. Survival? Yup, more like it! However, Christmas was - and still is - a BIG DEAL in Uganda! So here was Praise, the youngest of 7 children and the only girl. How in the world were her brothers going to make sure her little heart wouldn’t be broken today? There was no chicken, the ONE special food that was a MUST for Christmas in Uganda. Not only that. It was worse. There was NO FOOD AT ALL! While the children spent most of their upbringing with their grandmother, there were certain times when they knew they weren’t welcome at her home. Because of their step-aunty. Christmas was one of those times. The aunty was the one who had built the grandmother’s home (photo see last blog post), and she was going to spend the special day with her mother. Sadly, she did not like Praise and her brothers and made sure they knew it. So, off they scadoodled to their mother’s tiny rented room. Their brave mother had banded together with a bunch of other people and hired a truck to take them deep into the village. The mission? Fill up the truck with bunches of bananas that were then destined to get sold in Kampala for Christmas. This was her industrious attempt to provide her children with a meal worthy of Christmas. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as planned. The truck broke down.
Even worse, their mother had no way to contact the children to let them know. We’re talking pre-cell-phone days. So, imagine the distress of the brothers: Not only did they have to deal with their crying sister that they didn’t want to disappoint, but they were convinced that their mother must have died. Why? Because she was meant to have come back days ago and there was no news from her at all. With grief and death being so much a part of their tender lives already, this was a pretty realistic conclusion. So, here were the brothers, convinced that their mother had died. And it was Christmas. There was no food. No chicken. Just a crying little sister. Her primary worry wasn't so much about her mother having died.
She just wanted to eat chicken. And she wanted it now! When all of a sudden
A chicken happened to flutter into their room!
Well – well – well, thought one of the brothers. If that isn’t the solution to our dilemma... Before anybody had a chance to put their thinking caps on to decide what should be done, the chicken was killed and getting transformed into – you guessed it: Christmas dinner! YAY!!! Praise was overjoyed! But her joy didn’t last long. The owner of the chicken apprehended them, realising one of her chickens had escaped and hadn’t made it back alive. Uh – ohhhh…. Trouble! Before they knew it, they had been dragged to the Local Council (L.C.) – equivalent to the police. Accused of theft, Christmas was looking grimmer by the minute. BUT – and aren’t you glad there was a BUT? The L.C. – instead of punishing the children for their theft – rebuked the neighbour for being so heartless with the children. Seeing that they were without food, she should have let them get away with keeping the chicken.
Not only that. She got told to go home and give them some other food to complete their Christmas dinner. All is well that ends well. Christmas was saved! A satisfying meal tickled the children’s tummies – and souls. Praise was smiling from ear to ear. And their mother made it back home a week later.
Originally written on May 6th, 2020, on my blog.