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    The most cheerless Christmas of my life----- 45years-old man

    “The most cheerless Christmas of my life,” the 45-year-old man said somberly. “In good time or bad time, Christmas time has this special aura about it. And my brother, I have had my fair share of bad times in this life, but even in those times, Christmas has an allure that makes it one of the special moments of life. But this year, no be so.”
    While his view may be subjective, and not 100 percent reflective of public opinion, it is nevertheless, not totally wide of the mark.
    Barely 72 hours to Christmas, the effervescence traditionally associated with the Yuletide, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s dynamic megacity, is tempered with a climate of austerity.
    Activities that usually characterized Christmas––mass traveling, effusive giving, cheery outing, gaily-decoration of buildings and the associated razzmatazz––are low-ebbed and happening only as a matter of necessity. A Saturday Sun reconnaissance of the city came up with a drab picture of Christmas in recession. The perennial jinx of petroleum scarcity further compounds the trauma of economic hardship already corroding the morale of the public.
    A hampers-less Christmas
    The atmosphere of this Yuletide is best portrayed by the tone-down frenzy about hampers, one of the symbols of Christmas spirit of giving.
    Apongbon market on Lagos Island is the city’s informal hamper headquarters.  In the past, the vicinity is choked with human and vehicular traffic in the Christmas week.
    On Thursday, Dec 21, the usual hustle and bustle of the market was non-existing. The market was scanty.  The commotion and traffic common to the Apongbon Bridge and road were absent. The road was free. The delay on Broad Street, adjacent to Apongbon, was caused by the traffic light.
    Save for the wares shed and stacks of children’s Christmas toys in their frontage, there was hardly a sign of Christmas. Apongbon was a shadow of itself.

    Traders gisted with one another to kill boredom. Not used to hustling for customers, they were this day, practically begging and dragging buyers to their stores.
    A trader, Iya Ibukun sat with all her senses alerted to grab from the few customers available.  Her stock-in-trade was hampered, which she displayed at her shed under the bridge.
    When approached by a reporter, she at first mistook him for a customer and could not hide her disappointment when she discovered otherwise.
    “Oga, I was thinking you want to buy hamper, but who knows,” she stated. To the reporter’s request for an interview, she asked him to buy anything in her shop so she’d not start her business day with a discussion. The reporter complied.
    She started her lamentation with how she borrowed from a friend to stock her wares for the Christmas season, a move that turned out a mistake. Unfortunately, she might end in a big debt if her luck does not change soon.
    “Last year, the big-size hamper was sold between N18, 000 and N20, 000.  This year, due to inflation, we have to increase the price to N25, 000, whereas the items in the hamper worth more. We can’t increase the price because there are few customers in the market. Yesterday, I sold only two big hampers and four small ones of N7, 000 each. Today is Dec 21, banks and organizations have not placed orders for hampers.  This is rare. This put us in a very tight position. Anyway, we still have hope, that there will be an improvement once workers are paid their salaries,” she stated.
    Among the few customers perambulating the scanty market was a family of four, a mother and her three children. The woman who declined to give her name hinted that coming to the market was merely an act of “fulfilling all righteousness,” so as not to kill the morale of the kids.

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