Christmas on Becca's Books | Does Father Christmas come to Kenya? by Rebecca Stonehill

~ Does Father Christmas come to Kenya? ~

By Rebecca Stonehill

I ADORE Christmas, and there’s something very strange indeed about living in a warm climate, because I always equate the season to be jolly with being warm and cozy inside, mulled wine and the promise of snow in the air. I moved to Kenya two and a half years ago with my husband’s job, and keeping Christmas special for the whole family, especially my three children, has sometimes presented an interesting challenge.
Take the first year for example, when we searched high and low for a Christmas tree (at least, one that would actually stand up) – to no avail! My children were bereft – Christmas, after all, couldn’t actually be Christmas without a tree…could it? We decided since we were lucky enough to be living in Kenya, we should go with the Kenyan vibe for the festive season. So we headed to a Masaai Eco Camp over Christmas itself, sticking a branch into a ‘taka taka’ (rubbish) bucket, draping tinsel around it and piling the presents beneath it. A grand Christmas tree it was not, but none of us minded. Alongside painting Father Christmas and reindeers on flat stones and pieces of flint we discovered, as well as hanging up my mother’s beautiful handmade pocket advent calendar outside our tent, we learnt how to make bows and arrows, joined in with the astonishingly high and energetic Masaai jumping and went for walks through the sun-bleached, arid plains. It was far from a normal Christmas, but one we shall never, ever forget.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we’re busy preparing for our third Kenyan Christmas. Unlike last year, which we spent in huts on a tiny island off the Kenyan coast, or the year before which we spent in tents at the Masaai camp, this year we’re having Christmas at home. What will this entail? A Christmas drinks party (replete with minced pies and mulled wine – never mind about the warm weather!), carol singing in the garden of Karen Blixen’s beautiful house (of ‘Out of Africa’ fame) and a roast turkey (if we can find one – the hunt is on!) for Christmas lunch. I even met an amazing man in a wheelchair who sits outside some local shops making stunning bead and wire crafts day in, day out. When I asked him if he could make us a big Christmas tree, it was clear it was the first request of that kind he’d ever had. But as I type, he’s making it, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
So now my kids don’t need to ask me if Father Christmas come to Kenya, because they know he does. Cunning old Santa, he gets everywhere. And Christmas in Kenya may not be what we’re used to, but I know once back in the UK we’ll be talking about it for years to come.

I'm Rebecca Stonehill, author of The Poet's Wife and creative writing teacher.

I'm from London but currently live in Nairobi with my husband and three children where I teach creative writing to school children. Many years ago, I spent eighteen months living in Granada, completely falling in love with it and being inspired to write The Poet's Wife. I have also had many short stories published, including in Vintage Script, What The Dickens magazine and Ariadne's Thread.

The Poet's Wife is my debut novel and I am currently working on my second book, set in Kenya.

You can find Rebecca Stonehill on Facebook | Twitter |

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