It was our first family vacation.
Our parents had been planning this getaway for months and we had been bragging about it to anyone who cared to listen – OUR FAMILY WAS GOING ON A CHRISTMAS VACATION.
7 of us stuffed ourselves into our Peugeot 505 station wagon, cramped with enough baggage to last us double the time we were expected to be there.
As the last born, I was really excited that for a whole week, there would be no Amala or ewedu; no Eba or Egusi; no washing of plates or sweeping of house; no weeping or wahala.
The three hour trip came to an end when we were heralded by the sprawling beauty that would be our home for the next 7 days. It was blissful sight.
This resort was a Rest Home, built and managed by some American missionaries somewhere in Plateau State. The chilled harmattan winds coupled with the aroma of coffee and gravy welcomed our all Nigerian family.
The Traffic to the Rest Home was unbelievable.
It could only accommodate about 25 families per time and Christmas time was high season.
I heard that my parents made our reservations 8 months before. Whatever!
We immediately checked into our respective chalets: parents in one, my sisters in another and my brothers in the third. Since I was only 10 years old, I had to stay with my parents. Sad!
The guest list was a racial potpourri: Asians, Europeans, Americans, Africans and Nigerians.
Meals were buffet style with free sitting arrangements, communal and tightly scheduled.
Breakfast: 7am – 8:30am
Lunch: 12pm – 1:30pm
Tea Time: 3pm – 4pm
Dinner: 6:30pm – 8pm
Cookie time: 9pm
Lunch was my best meal mainly because of the dessert. It comprised of an assortment of cakes and pies but the whipped cream topping was sinful; white, fluffy, creamy and cold. I always had more helpings despite my mother’s negative eye signals.
My parents who knew my weakness with sweets set the limits and warned me to behave myself. But since my parents also needed the rest, I stayed out of sight most of the day, playing with the other children, discovering the vast expanse that characterized the resort and waiting for lunch.
During one of those excursions, I noticed the Rest Home had a barn.
I walked in.
There were goats, rabbits, sheep, turkey and chickens. It looked more like a zoo
Then grunting sound broke my thought flow.
There she was – a pig.
This must have been the largest pig I had ever seen. She was so large, she couldn’t even stand.
She lay there while one attendant fed her with whipped cream and cake.
It was the most unbearable sight I had ever seen. Remnant or not, how could a pig, in Nigeria, be served with whipped cream? Nonsense!
Wasn’t this the same pig that humiliated the prodigal son in the bible; the same pig that housed the legion of demons that were cast out of the possessed guy?
I don’t remember how the words were phrased, but I asked the attendant if he was deliberately insulting humans or just being wasteful?
Without getting an answer, I ran out to tell my friends about this wasteful insult.
They didn’t think it was a big deal.
From that moment, my vacation took a new turn.
My mission statement was – to keep as much whipped cream away from this pig.
So, every afternoon, I devised a plan
Every afternoon, I failed.
First, I tried to set a trap for the dessert delivering attendant but I gave up when I realised Rest Homes didn’t need traps.
I also offered to help the attendant ferry the cream and planned to mistakenly pour it somewhere along the way. That also failed.
Then I tried to strangle the pig until I realised that mankind wasn’t worth the hassle.
Finally, logic finally saved the day.
I reasoned that if I could finish all the whipped cream during lunch, there wouldn’t be any left for Miss Piggy.
So at lunch, I ate as much dessert as I could.
After sorting myself, I would go for several more rounds, emptying the cream into a cellophane bag I had positioned under the table. I would then wait until everyone had left the dining, and then dispose the bag in the trash.
That was the plan – on paper.
In reality, my mother noticed that I was crossing the greed boundary and strolled over to my table.
She stood over me. I felt her eyes burning into my back, which I refused to turn as I pretended I didn’t know she was standing behind me.
In the midst of 25 families, she pulled me to my feet by my ears. Unfortunately, my hands were still clinging to the bag of whipped cream, which was now in full glare.
It was a pitiable sight.
It got me thinking.
Wasn’t Christmas all about giving?
Why was my case different?
While the 3 Wise Men came from the East to give the baby Jesus gifts, why was I trying to starve this poor creature?
The pig definitely didn’t deserve the cream, but it found favour in the eyes of the attendant. And wasn’t that the spirit of Christmas – salvation for Mankind?
I was grounded and restricted to room service for the rest of our vacation but from that day on, Christmas took a whole new meaning.