Khalilah Brooks as Aunty B with her puppet friends
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Kwanzaa Is Going To Be Virtual For Us This Year

Dec 18, 2020

Family Christmas traditions always bring a smile to my face. My dad making eggnog for my sister and I, the Boney M. Christmas album playing on repeat and my mom seated closest to the Christmas tree in her velvet robe and satin house slippers, feigning surprise after opening each gift.

My daughter recently reminded me that we were on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, around this time last year. She had been adopted three months prior and I took her on her first plane ride to my parents' birthplace.

"When my social butterfly asked me how we were going to celebrate the holidays this year, I had to give it some serious consideration."

Once we landed, I remember how she danced to Feliz Navidad in the airport and her eyes opened wide in wonderment as she realized she shared the same skin tone as the locals. I was thrilled to introduce her to diverse experiences in a few short weeks. She met her extended adoptive family and biological father, fell in love with her identity and culture and explored nature in the rural countryside of the island.

She made me promise that we’d return every year as part of a new family tradition and I had every intention of doing so. Of course, the pandemic put a stop to those plans and has forever changed the way we go about our daily lives.


CBCKids.ca has a post all about Kwanzaa so your little one can brush up on the holiday season. You can find it here.


We had another holiday first for our family last year, we celebrated Kwanzaa at my daughter's school. As part of a parent-led volunteer group — the Black Student Success Committee (BSSC) — I helped organize the inaugural event, which was held just before the winter break.

"Hopefully, when my daughter grows up and looks back on 2020, she’ll have fond memories of her first virtual Kwanzaa."

For my eight year-old, consistency gives her a sense of stability as she confronts issues with identity, loss and belonging while trying to build trust with a new parent. So when my social butterfly asked me how we were going to celebrate the holidays this year, I had to give it some serious consideration.

As we approached the festive season, I’ve had to remind her that things will look a little different this time around. Although I haven’t celebrated Christmas in decades, last year I was able to quickly ease her disappointment by ditching winter and heading off to a sunny destination where she was the centre of attention.

This year, as the BSSC considered our limited options to engage Black students and their families, I suggested we take Kwanzaa online to reconnect with the school and greater community. The idea snowballed into over two hours of performances, guest speakers and cultural celebrations. The pre-recorded program launches on December 19th as a free family-friendly event.


Last year, 13-year-old Eve let CBC Kids News see how she celebrates Kwanzaa in Halifax. Check it out here.


Puppeteer Khalilah Brooks will be teaching kids coping skills as Aunty B with her co-star and life-sized puppet, Melissa, who is having a tough time managing her emotions. Francophone storyteller Djennie Laguerre will be sharing Haitian folklore. And dance trio The Moodies will have us up on our feet and practicing our best moves in our living rooms.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to timeless principles, like unity and faith, which hold deeper meaning during a year wrought with uncertainty and inequity — and reminds us that communal bonding is imperative to our physical and emotional well-being.

During the holidays, the loss of connection has been even more apparent as we struggle to celebrate in isolation. Technology cannot replace human touch or closeness, but I’m thankful it allows us to see familiar faces and enjoy a form of togetherness during this time.

For now, this is the new normal. Hopefully, when my daughter grows up and looks back on 2020, she’ll have fond memories of her first virtual Kwanzaa.

Article Author True Daley
True Daley

Read more from True here.

True Daley is a proud adoptive mom of an eight-year-old girl and advocate against anti-Black racism. The regular contributor to ByBlacks.com is also a multi-platform journalist and an award-winning performance artist who has appeared on CBC, CTV, BET and HBO. As an active member of BIPOC TV & Film in Toronto, she is currently developing an animated children's series for six- to nine-year-olds.

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