The Christmas Concert


So one Christmas my older Brother had the fabulous idea for us to pull together a Concert for the family. An entire production with dancing, singing, poetry, acting and a fashion show. There were four of us, my eldest Sister, my Brother, myself and my younger Sister. My eldest Sister could dance her behind off! She was on the hefty side but didn’t give a flying peacock about it. She was studying fashion in London. She was creative, loud, controversial and confident. Obviously she was in the perfect industry for her! While my Brother was out dancing in her heels and wigs at night, she would be the number one most wanted chick at the top Afro-Caribbean clubs in London. She was the Sister you would call if you had problems with someone at school, I mean she was a force to be reckoned with. One time, she came to pick me up from school and there were a line of cars queuing up to enter the parking lot. She was never the patient type. She honked a number of times and the cars did not move. Then she noticed another car jump the line using a different entrance. She was not happy. She jumped out of her car and went and knocked on the window of the other car with her South London accent at the ready…

“Excuse me, Excusseee me…what, do I look invisible to you? WE ARE ALL WAITING to get to the same place bruv, excuse meee, are you deaf? Open the window before I break it for you, huh? Oh now you see me…nowww you see me…bamba clattt”

Anger management? We never thought of it at the time, but she did make an impression on the folks in Ethiopia boy! More recently, she actually found a telephone number for Facebook and gave them an ear full over the phone because someone had stolen my photo and was using it as their profile picture. Facebook promptly removed the photo. I mean who gets a number for Facebook? Anyway, anything you need, she always got your back!

My Brother was the total opposite, nicest guy you will ever meet, will do anything for you to make you happy. Everyone loved him, but you couldn’t help but love him! He used to send me gifts every Christmas, every Birthday. He would do customized mix tapes for me of the best songs on the charts (hey, this was the late 80’s and there was very little access in Ethiopia). And of course he would give me the best advice about my hair, fashion etc.

“Tat, I love it! But you know love, you could even go shorter than that! Yes girl, you have those big eyes and gorgeous hair, it will be perfect, I am telling you, trust me, you know I got your back when it comes to these things. Gasp! You should also think of color…yessss…auburn maybe like Julia Roberts, think about it Tat, I am telling you.”

My younger Sister was just a pain. At the time she was anyway. She was four years younger than me and wanted to follow me around everywhere, have what I have, do what I do, wear what I wear. She was just a pain in my backside for a long time. We fought about everything, first it was “Why do you want to wear what I am wearing?” Then it was “Why don’t you dress more like me”. Followed by “Why don’t you listen to me, I know what’s best for you?”

Younger sister: “Tat…Tat…Tat…Tat”

Me: “What?

Younger sister: “I’m scared”

Silence ensues.

Younger sister again: “Tat…Tat…Tat”

Me: “What is it?”

Younger sister whimpering: “Could you check the closet?”

Me: “There’s nothing in the closet, sis”

Younger sister: “But you told me Freddy Krueger was in there”

Me: “That was last month! He’s not in there anymore”

Younger sister continues whimpering.

Me: “Alright, alright, turn the light on I will check”

Younger sister: “I’m too scared to get up, you do it”

I reached for one of my slippers on the floor and flung it towards the light switch. I miss and hit my sister on the back of her head. Sister wails in pain. Parents come into the room, scold me and verify that Freddy is indeed not in the closet. Along with the abundance of annoyance and irritation over the years was built a bond that is matched by no other and years later, make you grateful for all the years of annoyance and irritation by your younger Sister.

It was Christmas Eve in Addis Ababa, 1990. 80 degrees Fahrenheit, of course, because Christmas Eve on the more internationally known, Gregorian Calendar (December 24th) lies within Ethiopia’s summer/dry season. Ethiopia celebrates Christmas Day on January 7th as it follows the Ethiopian Coptic Calendar but we all went to international schools so we were out of school for both holidays! We were obsessed with the White Christmas we watched on Movies! So much so, we would make our Mom allow us to put cotton on the trees in the garden so they look like it snowed on them. A White Christmas was legendary. Now I know what a pain in the back side it actually is, having lived on the East coast of the USA for several years.

“Shovel? Shovel what? Ohhhhhhhh, we can’t get out of the driveway!”

We were all in great spirits. Excited to perform all our parts that we had meticulously rehearsed. I was going to do a monologue that my brother had written about a farmer and his animals. My younger Sister was going to sing ‘Oh Little Town of Bethlehem’ and we were all going to do a group dance routine to En Vogue’s hit ‘Hold On’ as well as a group fashion show. We were extra innovative to make sure our Concert looked like the real thing. We had bamboo shoots covering the main gate so it looked like the backdrop of a stage; we had baby powder for our faces so it looked like we wore makeup; my younger Sister and I had the ONE sleeveless dress from our closet we were never allowed to wear because it was never ‘hot’ enough and so on…we were ready!

Just minutes before our group dance, my older Sister came up to the three of us and said abruptly “I am not dancing” and walked off. “Ha ha, Mimi” I said sarcastically. She kept walking away. My Brother and I looked at each other in shock and my Brother followed after her. My younger Sister was still fascinated by the adult size sunglasses we had put on her face for the dance routine. She refused to take them off her face although she could not see where she was going and had fallen three times already. She stood where we were fiddling with the glasses.

My Brother and I caught up to my older sister. “What do you mean Mimi? You can’t be serious.” He said shockingly. “Yes, I am dead serious” she said proudly. “I have not told you guys this yet but I am now Pentecostal.” “What?” My brother screamed while looking at her with an eyebrow raised, “Now you are a Pentecostal? Yesterday you were a Buddhist, I don’t care, what has this got to do with the dance?”. “Don’t make fun of Jesus” Mimi snapped. “The truth is, and I don’t know if you can understand because you are all sinners, all of you, blinded by the darkness” she looked around and waved her right arm indicating everyone in the house, including our fifteen audience members of eager Cousins, Aunts and Uncles. “The truth is, Jesus has spoken to me and told me that dancing and music is for sinners so I have decided not to do it”. My Brother shook his head and decidedly said “Ok, forget it, we don’t need you anyway. The truth is your fat ass is too scared and you can’t move your left from your right foot anyway so there, tell Jesus that!”




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