Kenyan Youth Give Their Views on the Intrigues of Adulting & Christmas Expectations

“It’s barely five months since I moved out to my own place and let me tell you, the independence I longed for isn’t as easy and fun as I expected. A lot has changed in terms of decision-making, setting priorities, and even responsibilities.” Jean Fraser, a travel consultant in her early twenties living in Utawala, Nairobi, quipped.

Adulting is one thing many people look forward to until it happens, and then it is no longer as exciting. At least not all the time, as the fun fades.

Do you remember how you always looked forward to Christmas? And now it’s like Christmas is looking forward to you?

Well, this is the reality of several young adults who spoke to to share their experience of spending holidays as an independent adult.

From left Christine Ayieko (26), Regan Obonyo (28), Jean Fraser (Early 20’s), Sefu Sabila (26), and Beryl Malikhu (25).


“I do feel some pressure when the holidays approach. Being an adult, I am expected to send some money to my parents back at home for their Christmas,” 28-year-old Regan Obonyo, who resides in Lucky Summer, says.

The holiday is for gifting, and the young adults have become the uncles and aunts that they liked or disliked during the holidays in their childhood. The uncle with a vibe but always intoxicated, the stingy uncle from Nairobi, the rich aunt that spoils you or the one whom everyone listens to when they speak, probably because they settle most of the bills, or the three not-so-wise men whose gifts to the team end with someone spending the night in a ditch after having one too many.

For single young adults with no parental duties, the charger and jacket are always on them. You can leave for a shop in Roysambu only to wake up in Naivasha the following day. 

For young parents like Beryl, however, things have to change. Being a first-time mother, she will be spending her first Christmas with her baby. The 25-year-old accountant from Kakamega has been independent since 2021. To her, adulting has taught her patience, both with herself as well as and those around her. Well, the country we live in would use some patience.

“I am Married to my Sunshine aka Komuono. We have a baby girl named Zahara Hera. My duties have changed since I became a parent, unlike before when it was just me, myself and I. Now I have to think about my baby, what she will wear, and how to make her Christmas memorable,” Beryl states.

Beryl will be spending her new year with her in-laws after her Christmas holiday with her parents. 

“Despite my husband being away, I have been invited to have a New Year’s Eve day with them. I will spend Christmas with my own family and it’s such a thing I don’t take for granted because to me, family comes first.”

If only we were able to summon all the Sunshines in town and urge them to keep shining far and wide, maybe everyone would have a bright holiday, and the pressures of adulting wouldn’t be much of a deal. Just like Sefu Sabila, a 26-year-old journalist from Kitale suggests, it should just be about creating memories with zero pressure.

“The hype on social media is too much. One could succumb to the pressure ranging from numerous trips to matching pajamas and all that. It doesn’t bother me. I am focused on making mine better in my way,” she says.

Even the Gen Z’s (I do hope you understand these are the people born between 1997- 2012), can tell the difference as Christmas has morphed from what it was before. This is the time for you, millennials, to just take a few minutes off your evening nap and read these nostalgic memories.

“Back in the day, Christmas was one holiday we longed for since it was the only time we could visit ushago in Kabras. Grandma’s hut would be full of cousins who stay in distant towns. My dad would get us new clothes for Christmas and the new year. I can’t remember the last time I got myself an outfit for Christmas. These were the good old days,” Sabila says.

“On the eve of the 31st, we would sing songs beating water cans as drums along the road or to the streams. A ritual we were told drowned all the evil for the year down the stream and welcomed a new beginning. After throwing away the water cans, you would run home without looking back. I doubt if this fun still exists. 

“Bullfighting was also something to look forward to on every first of January. Waking up at 5 am to go watch the bulls get hyped by the traditional songs and catching a great spot to watch without being at risk of being knocked down by the bull.” she adds

Things have changed, even for Jean Fraser, that Chapati can be consumed almost every day. It is no longer fun for the holiday like it used to be.

“Since we were living in the city, I would be looking forward to visiting our home up-country once schools closed.  We would come back a day before schools open, and guess what, our friends would be eagerly waiting for us to plug them with the freshest guavas from the village,” she says.

Christine Ayieko still misses having new clothes bought for her specifically for the holiday, the tradition back in her village in Kakamega of decorating houses so that they would look good from the outside, the special meals only for the season, served on special plates and cups, also, only for the season, unless a special guest visits in the year.

“I also miss the joy that came with the Christmas carols competitions which we called ‘malako.’  We carried trophies and were given snacks like sweets. We sang along the road for everybody to know we were the champs,” she recalled, an experience shared by Beryl.

“I used to sing choir in church. I could sing heavens down in tenor and churchmates were not pleased when I left. I do miss the New Year adventures with my family and the fact that my parents always got to buy me clothes for the two days was always one of my best moments of the holiday. We also don’t decorate home anymore as we used to,” Beryl reminisced.

From the accounts, it is evident that there has been a change over the years to the extent that some feel the Christmas and New Year holidays are no longer as fun as in their childhood. Well, change is inevitable, even for holidays and celebrations. Even if Jesus was to be born today, the three wise men would probably have followed a pinned location on Google Maps to trace where he was born. 

What are some of your memories of the holiday as a child?

Christmas decorations inside a supermarket


TRM Mall

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