A Christmas Short Story

Merry Christmas from all of us at Accomplish Press! We hope you are enjoying the day, however you choose to celebrate. We are celebrating here with a new Christmas-themed short story from our founder, Tolulope Popoola. It’s a sweet nostalgic story with a happy ending, perfect to put a smile on your face today. Enjoy!

The Christmas Gift

 Tolulope Popoola

My sister, Hannah and I were on Christmas holidays, when we were told that we would be expecting a visitor from abroad. It was 1994 and I was in Primary 5 and Hannah was in Primary 2. We were excited to welcome Aunty Ranti, our Mummy’s sister who had moved to the United States just after my fifth birthday. I vaguely remembered her, and it was only from photographs that Hannah knew her. But our parents often spoke about her with pride, and to inspire me and my sister that we could do great things.

Aunty Ranti was one of the first people we knew to win the US green card lottery. She had just finished her medical degree at the time, and the timing was perfect. She moved abroad and continued her studies, and she recently qualified as a doctor in the US. This Christmas was the first time she could come back to Nigeria since she left four years ago.

Two days before her arrival, Mummy, myself and our househelp spent the day cleaning the house from top to bottom. I swept the rooms and Hannah had the task of dusting the furniture. We also prepared the guest bedroom and Mummy stocked the fridge and freezer with plenty of food.

Daddy left the house very early in the morning to get to the airport on time. My sister and I waited anxiously on the balcony, craning our necks to watch out for Daddy’s Peugeot 505 turning into our street. When we finally saw the car, we couldn’t contain our excitement, and we rushed out to meet them.

Aunty Ranti stepped out of the car first. She looked like Mummy but much younger and definitely prettier than I remembered. The old photos on our mantlepiece didn’t do her justice. Her brown skin glowed. Her hair was in long braids that went all the way down her back and had beads at the end. And she smelled nice! With a big smile, she hugged us tight and exclaimed.

“My goodness! Are these my little nieces? You are both big girls now!”

Daddy carried her bags inside and Mummy came to join us in the welcome.

In between all the exchange of pleasantries, Mummy served her a soft drink and snacks. I was fascinated by her hair, her skin, and her accent as she spoke. After she had breakfast, she opened one of her boxes and brought out gifts for all of us.

“Here, Elizabeth, these are for you and your sister.”

She had brought us three dresses each, novels, colouring books and pens, and a set of children’s encyclopaedias. She also brought us Christmas gifts that were wrapped. We had never received Christmas presents before. What we usually looked forward to at Christmas time was getting new church shoes. We were about to open the parcels, but she said that we had to wait until Christmas Day.

“Girls, say thank you to your Auntie,” Mummy said.

“Thank you Auntieee”, Hannah and I chorused together, and we ran to our room to put the lovely presents away.

On Christmas day, when we got back home from church, we eagerly opened our presents. Mine was a science kit with test tubes, crystals, food colourings, a petri-dish, pipette, a funnel, a magnifying glass, and many other interesting bits and pieces. I was delighted with it because science was my favourite subject at school. The kit included a booklet of twenty different experiments that I could play with, and they were all fascinating.

Hannah’s gift was a life-sized baby doll that mimicked a real baby’s functions. It could cry and make other realistic baby sounds, it could move its arms and legs, it could “drink” from a bottle, and wet its nappy. It was so cute, and Hannah fell in love with it instantly. And for a long time, she and her doll became inseparable. She took it everywhere with her, even to bed. I used to tease her that she was a baby, but she wasn’t bothered. Even our neighbours started teasing our mum that Hannah needed a real baby sibling, since she was so attached to a doll.

For the rest of the time Aunty Ranti spent with us that holiday, we followed her everywhere. We liked her a lot. We liked the clothes she wore, they were different from how our Mummy dressed. Hannah and I didn’t get tired of asking her questions about America, about her work in the hospital, about her life in general, and she was happy to indulge us with lots of facts and stories. By the time she was leaving, we had both decided that we wanted to grow up and be just like her. We begged to be allowed to follow her back to the airport and we said our sad goodbyes.

We didn’t see Aunty Ranti again until she came to pick us up at Washington Dulles International Airport in 2005. Sadly, our Mummy had passed away in an accident in 2002. Aunty Ranti became like our mother figure, often communicating with us via emails and phone. She was now married with three children of her own. Whenever we spoke with her, she would say that our Mummy would have done anything to make sure we achieved our potential, and she wanted to make sure that happened. She would ask us questions about what we wanted to do when we finished secondary school. She convinced Daddy to allow us to come and join her, and she was instrumental in getting us admission into universities to study in America.

“Excuse me ma’am?”

I was interrupted from my reminiscing, by a young lady in a smart dress, and a sash. I looked up as she smiled at me.

“Your seats are ready now. Please follow me this way.”

I signalled to my family, and we all followed the lady into the huge hall, and she led us to our seats. The ceremony was about to begin.

Aunty Ranti was beaming with pride, as Hannah’s name was called up to the podium to receive her award as the Best Consultant Paediatrician of the Year. At the end of the ceremony, when we all gathered round to take photographs, all of us teased our aunty and told her that it was her visit and the Christmas gift she bought for Hannah many years ago, that made Hannah decide that she was going to be a doctor too and specialise in looking after babies.

Merry Christmas! Like, comment and share the story!


  1. I like the Happy ending.

  2. Nice and short. I liked it. Well done!

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