What the Heck is Kwanzaa and Our First Christmas! (Nguzo Saba and Santa)

What Kwanzaa and Christmas look like in my house:


Traditionally, I celebrate Kwanzaa only. As a kid, my family never participated in Christmas. Instead, we embraced our African Heritage on December 26-January 1. The Seven Principals of Kwanzaa were instilled in me as a result, and for that, I am forever grateful. This year, I have taken an attraction to Christmas, as a new mom to an energetic and brilliant one year old. It all seems like something I don’t want her to be excluded from, especially because as a vegan, she will already feel exclusion with her friends when it comes to social eating. So, Christmas will not be another one of those things. It is including her in society as much as possible so that she’ll have a happy childhood, without compromising our virtues and morality. Christmas, does neither, in fact, I have always wondered if I was missing out on a huge Holiday in America by not participating.

We will still, of course celebrate Kwanzaa. Christmas will be an addition to our Holiday list! So, on December 25, we’ll have a decorated tree, and on December 26-January 1, we’ll light the Kinara and go over the 7 principles, one new lesson a day.

7 Principals of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba)

  • Umoja: Unity
  • Kujichagulia: Self-Determination
  • Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
  • Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
  • Nia: Purpose
  • Kuumba: Creativity
  • Imani: Faith

“Big White Man with A Lot of Hair”

The Christmas Tree, stockings, santa, christmas pajamas, and even those annoying songs I used to hate, all seem amazingly jolly (I’ve always wanted to use that word). My siblings and I always got great gifts for Kwanzaa. As much as one would receive on Christmas. This year, for our new Christmas celebration, we would have gifts wrapped in winter-holiday designs and place perfectly under the tree. We didn’t get to baking cookies for Santa, as I am still unsure about the Santa thing. For Kwanzaa, we always knew the gifts were coming from our parents. I don’t feel that I missed out on expecting gifts from a big white man with a lot of hair! It always seemed strange to me that he would sneak into people’s houses while they were sleep.


So this year, there was no Santa. Rylan’s hardworking, single black mom, did the job, no reindeer were forced to drive my SLAY.


Our First Christmas

Christmas Eve

The day before Christmas, I went Holiday shopping. Yes, shopping on Christmas Eve was not smart, but hey, I’m new to this! Haha.

I knew what I was set-out to buy for Ry: a kitchen set, Karoke microphone, maybe a tablet. Yes, those three things were the only things on the list. I have been adopting a minimalist mindset. Instead of going to the store and buying 100 toys that would clutter our small space and not be used, I decided to buy items she would absolutely love.

Enter – Target. I look online and find the Peppa Pig Kitchen set in store! Kitchen sets everywhere else have sold out. This kitchen set if on sale at Target for $59.99. We grab it! In the mist of the very mild Holiday traffic, we don’t find much else. There is no kids microphone in the toy aisle. Instead, I find Black and Decker Toy accessories for Rylan’s already existing Kids Work Bench. So that’s two store-bought toys to put under the tree. I also made her a Princess-Super Woman Cape! In total, 3 toys from Mama.

Christmas Day

Alright, so its 8am and little Rylan is sleeping next to a wide-eyed and excited mom Muva. Am I more excited than she is? Definitely! Its our First Christmas. Last year, she was a tiny baby and we really didn’t celebrate much. Muva was tired!

She finally wakes up and we eat breakfast then open the toys.

Ry loves the kitchen set and tool belt! She doesn’t care much for the cape I sewed (insert – tears in eyes and weeping), haha but all is well. She plays with her toys while Muva cooks!


Family and Food

I cook up some homemade Tofu, which then turns into Sofritas, which then turns into loaded Nachos!

Homemade tofu is SO much better than store-bought by the way!

I m not used to a traditional Christmas dinner. At the end of Kwanzaa we tend to have a huge African-food feast. Next year, I will cook a nice vegan Christmas meal. This year – nachos from DIY Tofu!


The house fills with the smell of soybeans processed into Tofu. I light a candle and there’s a knock on the door. Its Rylans dad! A minute later, Its Rylan’s Mimi! Mimi come bearing gifts – beautiful and much needed winter clothes!

After awhile, Ry, her dad, and I, go to visit her Great-Great Grandmother with the rest of her dad’s family. It’s a blast and full of love. I have always adored his side of the family and the way they connect, laugh, and eat together. I am always honored to be included, even if Rylan’s dad and I are not together.


Later, we open Kwanzaa gifts from my mom and dad, sent in from Knoxville.

Rylan is decked out with nice toys! She gets a very cool techno motorcycle, a tablet, and (insert – drumroll), a karaoke machine! It is amazing how God will bless you! She was one happy tot. We play for about an hour then settle down.

Now, Christmas is over and I feel a bit sad. It was so much fun, and I feel like I only got a taste. I will miss the fun Christmas sweaters and the music. Next year, we will have another great Christmas, full of family and joy!

The holidays aren’t over though. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the first day of Kwanzaa – Umoja This year,and here-on-out, we will light a cancel every night, and discuss how each principle will be used to uplift ourselves, our family, our community, and live within the amazing potential of our African heritage.


Habari Gani !

Want to Make your own Kinara? Check this out! 

What are your Holiday Traditions? Do you give gifts? Are you a minimalist like me and only gave a few gifts, or did you “go all out”? Let’s talk! Comment below.

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