By Arthia Nixon
Nationwide… A city councilwoman in Georgia is continuing her tradition of spreading holiday cheer, lifting spirits and showing that representation matters in her role as Mama Christmas.
Sandra Vincent of McDonough, a city south of Atlanta is now in her fourth year as Mama Christmas, a character she says represents both the holiday and who she based mostly on her great-grandmother.
“It is important that we keep alive the memory of those who worked tirelessly to make sure that their families were provided for,” says Vincent of the women in her life who inspired Mama Christmas. “I can’t stress enough how phenomenal these women were; they were the original sheroes. They were positive role models in our society and everything from the cadence of their speech to their sayings carry many of us till this day. I remember my folks were the original recyclers, we never wasted, in fact, Mama would say ‘if you never waste, you’ll never want’ and she developed adaptive re-use for everything. If clothes didn’t get passed down they ended up as a beautiful quilt on the foot of the bed. I love these memories.”
Although she is seen most in McDonough, Vincent has taken Mama Christmas on the road and in the metro Atlanta area.
“The spirit of Mama Christmas is international and resonates with anyone who has ever experienced the love and wisdom of an older woman in their lives,” said Vincent. “She is the essence of older women throughout the ages.”
Even with COVID19 protocols in place, Vincent said Mama Christmas’ will be connecting virtually or waving from a distance to the community who looks forward to her appearances.
“During the pandemic,I have been partnering with other organizations, meeting virtually, sharing original stories, and participating in various toy drives,” said Vincent. “ I’ve done several chats with children where I’ve tried to relate Mama Christmas experience as a child in the country with their children’s experience of not being with their friends.”
She notes that Mama Christmas has encouraged children to use their imagination to create things including their own stories. Vincent added that Mama Christmas has her own story as well which resonates with little girls and children of color.
“This character is extremely important,” said Vincent. “Children need to know about the many Mama Christmases who carried us through the years when Santa wasn’t a part of our culture. Before there ever was a Santa, there was Mama Christmas who made things, cooked, sewed, built, healed and mended the hearts of the entire community. They had the uncanny ability to know what you were thinking and exactly what you needed without anyone saying a word. I remember my great-grandmother being mother to the entire community, this was passed down to my mother, and now shows up heavily in my life.”
For many families, this year will be a bit more challenging, noted Vincent and that is why she wants to remind people that holiday cheer is more than the gift of toys.
“It’s also love and getting back to the basics of caring for one another and having that care translate into action,” she said. “Mama Christmas is a connector to a simpler time in history where people genuinely cared about one another and Christmas was more about loving and giving the gift of joy. Mama Christmas believes in the power of community. People long ago didn’t have much, but love always made things better; a time when sharing and giving to your neighbor in need was a way of life.”
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