Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 20, 2024


Ezeilo reflects on her memories of Christmas, both in Nigeria and in Baltimore.

“When did the year 2022 fly by?”

Can you believe it? It’s that season of the year when we all joyfully sing holiday songs and Christmas carols. The lyrics that come to mind right now are “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.” I literally sang those words out loud and did a happy little dance right in the middle of the library!

Yes, it’s that time of the year — a time when we’re all happy and jolly, a time to celebrate Jesus’s birth (if you’re a Christian), a time to spend with family, a time for vacation, a time to sing and sing and sing some more, a time for the cold and possibly snowy weather.

It is a time for wearing thick clothing and gloves previously packed away in boxes, a time for food and gifts, a time for ugly Christmas sweater parties (I only recently heard about this phenomenon, and it’s still surprising to me) and, most especially, a time to ponder on past Christmas celebrations and how amazing (or unamazing) they were. 

Christmas is a peak season for me, and celebrating in Baltimore has been so different from what I am used to in Nigeria.

In Nigeria when I was a kid, Christmas was a time my parents used to buy special new clothes and shoes to wear for the season. As soon as December hit, I would beg excitedly to my parents for my Christmas clothes. Receiving my new outfit, I would be so happy and feel so fulfilled wearing my new ensemble to church on Christmas Day.

For the other kids and me, it was time for an unprovoked fashion show! The topic of discussion leading up to Christmas would be all about what we’d be wearing and what gifts we expected.

How cute is your Christmas dress? Did you get Christmas shoes or a new Christmas hairdo? Have you received any gifts? 

It was always so funny to hear children talk about this as if it was the best thing to happen to them that season! 

As an adult, I have learned to love Christmas for what Christmas is — a time for family. Family has always been the most important part of Christmas for me. I love spending the holiday season with my relatives, chatting, eating and drinking together. That precious time with my loved ones is what makes Christmas unique.

Although I’m now in Baltimore, and Christmas is defined somewhat differently, it still feels just as beautiful and comforting as before. Here Christmas is more about keeping warm and laughing with friends over hot chocolate and cookies, while still reaching out to family over calls and texts to share small moments with them.

During my last Christmas celebration in Baltimore, I spent the day ice skating with friends. That day was filled with some of the most entertaining moments of my time here, mostly because I am such a scaredy cat on ice, and I love being dramatic about it. 

While the children around us were effortlessly skating across the rink, I was almost too afraid to even step on the ice. It was a hilarious sight to see: tripping again and again over the slippery surface, windmilling my arms with every slip and slide, trying my best to move even a foot without holding onto the railing. 

I could not even stand on the rink to take a picture! At that moment, it was such a rough time, but now I look back on it as a fond and fun memory. I feel like I’ll never forget my first Christmas in Baltimore.

Although I previously made a sound resolution never to go ice skating again, preferring to just spend Christmas Day chilling and watching childhood movies, I might still give ice skating on Christmas one last shot to get over my fear! Yes, even I can try to be daring sometimes.

This Christmas promises the best and newest things. I might feel like there’s no way my next Christmas can top the last, but Baltimore always has a way of surprising me. Most of all I am so grateful to spend yet another holiday season with friends (now family) in Baltimore.

Chidimma Ezeilo is a Masters of Public Health / MBA student from Aguluezechukwu, Anambra State, Nigeria.

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