I am gliding into 2022 with an undying commitment to simplicity. Like bundles of sticks, I intend to find strength with those that choose to stand together with me. It’s a commitment after all and you are either in or out as I follow my star. I am also prepared to endure all that life throws along the way in 2022. Like chaos. I went into Christmas Day for example prepared for the chaos of a merry day. Like heads without bodies, I watched as my kids rambled through all they got. Watched as the chaos continues to unfold through the holidays where all work ways are banned. I remember my dad and the look of content on his face this time of the year. Joyful that it is now my turn to observe his contentment with how merry days with chaos end. With kids of my own. I miss my dad terribly. And in 2022, I intend to find beauty in chaos like the three wisemen did with Christ.

Yesterday we began an adventure into 8 days of Christmas fun.

In fact, we are living our lives through a book written and illustrated by my daughter.

All I can say is that because of her, my world is Belle.

Like Lotanna Belle, there are no limits.

She is one who opens our hearts to truly remember the love of our fathers, every time, beautifully.

Belle, writes, and illustrates, and shows us love that reminds me of my father’s sweet embrace.

She lives out her live in words more elegant than sweet. An elegant love. Her love burrows deeply into my heart. Deeply like a stone, crushing it, until it’s all love. That’s what reading my daughter’s words does to me these days.

A world fully Belle is genuinely Belle.

There is a Belle in all things, all around my world and this Christmas is Belle all because of her. I am loved. She makes me remember the elegant love my father showered on us this time of the year too. He is so missed.

When the church gives you something to feel and think about, it’s a valuable thing. Take for example, our visit to Saint Matthew the Apostle, our church yesterday. Due to the pandemic, we could not celebrate Christmas at our church as we would. But during our private baptism ceremony yesterday, I was reminded about why we loved Saint Matthew’s so much. Unlike other Catholic Churches, our true being is fully represented in church always. It’s haunting, in a genuine way, the way you are fully immersed in the church, in its celebration and in it’s community. The parish works hard to make us all feel like a community and we are truly one. Take for example, the depiction of baby Jesus, his mother Mary, Joseph and the three wise men. They looked like me.

Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

It’s one of those stunning sights you only see in Saint Louis. Our church finds it own unique way to express our being and showcase what God actually symbolizes, the image and likeness of all humanity, however you choose to define it. The business of representation is a shared activity that everyone, including the church should participate in. That a church, a Catholic Church, would burrow as deeply as it can to showcase how black lives, black representation matters in a year full of impediments for black lives is extremely hopeful to me. Keep this representation in mind.

Three Wisemen

I love beginnings. They are often not sterling at first but when you look back they can be so brilliant. Like the beginning with my mother in-law. She celebrated her 76th birthday on Christmas mass eve. We celebrated it yesterday. As I took pictures of her, I reminisced a little of how we first met, 8 years ago, in December 2012 at Charles’s De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Yes we met at the airport. She had travelled all the way from Nigeria to be with me and my daughter as we were all alone in Paris. I was working at that time at UNESCO and had no help watching my daughter. She became my every thing, starting with our first Christmas together in a tiny studio apartment in Paris. We have lived together ever since. I always tell people that I am able to have a career as a global researcher because she is at my side. I owe a lot to her and even if I tried, I would never be able to repay her for all she has done and all she continues to do as the mama of our home.

So yesterday we laughed and remembered the beginning. There were so many beginnings for her then she recalled. It was the first time she had ever gotten on an airplane. The first time she had ever travelled outside Nigeria. The first time in Paris, France. The first time meeting me her daughter in-law and her grand daughter Lotanna who was only 6 months old at that time. The first time navigating speaking English on a daily basis as my command of Igbo, her first language, was not up to par and so she tried her best with English. The first time going to Catholic mass in French especially as a devout Catholic, with an Igbo bible, my first sighting of one. We have come a long way together. I took many photos to celebrate her but this one below with Lotanna now 8 years old warmed my soul. Lotanna presented her hand written letter to mama and as she explained what it contained mama was filled with emotions. I was too. Here we are, 8 years later, and the baby, mama came to take care of, was now taking care of her, telling her how much she loved her with words she put together herself. I love this. Keep small beginnings in mind. They may seem small at first. But when you look back, they are truly brilliant.