A Big Family Christmas – that’s what we have in Liberia, as Gerry, our communications officer, found out.  

If you know anyone from Liberia, then you’ll have heard the phrase, “My Christmas on you!”

As it gets closer to Christmas, first every child, and then every adult, stops you and utters this command. I used to think it was just me who got this treatment, but then I realised everybody says it to everybody. 

It seems that many people don’t actually expect anything from you when they say, “My Christmas on you.” For your friends and colleagues, it’s one of those things you just have to be first to say.   

For some people though, they really have no-one they can expect to provide them with anything for Christmas. 

Liberia’s equivalent of Santa Claus is Old Man Beggar, who circulates among the houses in the lead-up to Christmas along with Santa Claus. Old Man Beggar is depicted as a fat old man, just like Santa, but that’s where the similarity ends. Instead of bringing you and your children gifts, he expects you to give him something – usually food and drink – in return for the entertainment he offers through song and dance. 

For most Liberians, Christmas Day itself is a day for being with the family and for sharing a good meal. For some, if you’re near enough, it means a trip to the beach. For all Christian Liberians, it means a visit to church and a long and lively musical celebration. 

For the Liberians I know through working for Mary’s Meals, Christmas does not mean the excesses it means for many people back home. It’s simply not economically possible for people to do that. 

There is the need for a little more scrimping and saving to find the fish, rice, chicken, pepper and greens for a traditional celebration on December 25. 

This festive season, thank you for all you do in remembering the children Mary’s Meals feeds in Liberia and in 14 other countries across the globe. As well as giving them a nutritious meal every school day, you provide them with the hope for a brighter future. My Christmas on you!