“2019 marks my 20th year licensing, marketing and distributing gospel music overseas. It’s a funny thing… every year around Christmastime, people ask me about how do folk celebrate Christmas overseas, and the place I get asked most about is London. So, I thought it might a fun story to ask some of my dear friends and colleagues in London, and some of our amazing clients here in the States the question.”
Dave & Helen Paul:
Christmas for us starts on December 1st, when the decorations go up. It seems to get earlier each year. Having two young children, it seems only fair to celebrate the whole of December.
Christ is the focus of everything we do, so we try and avoid the Christmas retail madness, and sort out buying gifts in October, and any last-minute ones in November. Dave, however, disappears in late December to pick up any last-minute gifts, and turns his phone off to avoid any clues as to the gifts he’s bought.
So with a mixture of school nativity plays and performances; Helen rehearsing for church carols for Christmas service, and Dave preparing Christmas tributes, programmes and songs on UGN Jamz Radio, it’s a busy time!
Meals out, and meeting up with friends wherever and whenever possible, is a must, as we normally both work right up to Christmas. As it’s a busy time for us, it’s nice to sit down and relax for a couple of days and eat good food with family. This is very important to us and, of course, the children are delighted, as they can spend their time playing with their new toys.
No matter what, we always do a live Christmas morning radio show on UGN Jamz. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without sharing some quality time with our listeners as well.
At Christmas, we focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus, whether it was at that time in history or not, we celebrate, as in our hearts we appreciate the greatest Gift to mankind: Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Helen Le Paul
Helen Le Paul is the CEO/Company Director of UGN Media Limited and presenter on the station.
Christmas in the Téibo household is full of food, movies and lounging in our onesies. Because we live in London, most years we don’t have snow, so white Christmases have been literally only a thing to be dreamt about. We start the day with a prayer, then everyone goes downstairs to check out their gifts. Our greatest joy, as parents, is watching the excitement and glee on our kids’ faces as they unwrap their presents, leaving piles of wrapping paper in the middle of our living room! This is followed by Christmas breakfast – usually prepared by my husband, Oladimeji – and then we head off to church.
Depending on what I’m cooking for Christmas dinner, I may stay back whilst the family goes to church, so I can carry on with the meal prep. The afternoon sees us sharing our Christmas meal, usually with a classic Christmas movie playing on TV. In recent years, this has been Disney’s ‘Frozen’! Long naps on the sofa in our onesies and Christmas socks come next! Because we lead such busy lives as a family, Christmas is really a time when we hibernate. We spend most of the Christmas holidays indoors, and enjoying our own company. We love hanging out together as a family – just the four of us – and Christmas is our favourite holiday because we get so much time to do just that.
Sarah Téibo is a MOBO-nominated gospel singer/songwriter, who is married with two daughters and lives in London, where she also serves as a worship leader and children’s worker in Kings Church – a New Frontiers church.
What I Would Do If I Were In London for Christmas
by Anthony Faulkner
If I were in London for Christmas, I would walk through the streets singing Christmas songs all day long. This time of year allows me to channel the holiday cheer that rings: THE KING IS BORN! The season calls for families to gather and talk about old memories while creating new experiences at the same time. My holiday song, ‘This Time of Year’, talks about forgiving past hurts and calling for unity. Christmas has many meanings to different people, and ‘This Time of Year’ covers a large portion of those expressions.
When I wrote ‘This Time of Year’, I took my personal experiences to inspire others, who may need a boost of joy around this time of year. Christmas promotes joy, peace and happiness due to the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Although the theme of the holiday resonates with festive decorations, songs and conversations, some may experience a challenge due to a loss or hurtful memory. The words of ‘This Time of Year’ were written to uplift and create positive change. If I were in London, I would want to make sure everyone had a chance to hear me sing this uplifting and inspiring song during this time of year!
Anthony Faulkner is a singer, songwriter, international recording artist and world traveller, who has visited six continents.
If I were in London during the Christmas holiday, I would begin my Christmas shopping as early as the end of October, all the way through to Thanksgiving Day (in November)! Right after Thanksgiving dinner, I would decorate the outside of the house with colourful flashing lights, brightly coloured Christmas wreaths wrapped in reds, greens and gold, with sparkling reindeers and radiantly lit angles to cover my lawn. Candles positioned in the centre of every window, shining for all the neighbours to see from a distance, representing Christ as the Light of the world.
Christmas music would be incessantly flowing throughout every room of the house. I’d watch Jesus films at every opportunity, to savour the moment of His birth, His life and His resurrection. With most of my Christmas shopping done, I’d place presents under the Christmas tree day by day, watching the presents and anticipation grow as the days lead to Christmas. Then on Christmas Eve, I would begin to prepare my Christmas dinner early that evening into the wee hours of the night: apple pies, sweet potato pies, peach pies and cakes, turkey and dressing – with all the fixings – and wake up early Christmas morning to celebrate the time Jesus was born. I’d be ;ooking at all the gifts under the tree, as a reflection of all the gifts and goodness God has given to me; watching smiles on others’ faces, as they open the gifts you’ve given them. I’d end Christmas Day celebrating with my loved ones in gratitude, unity and love, feasting all to the glory of God. He is the One who ultimately provides all good things, and every good thing about Christmas is provided by Him.
Deborah Denise is an Indigenous American music producer, singer, songwriter and urban gospel artist.
The Adepegba Christmas is always busy, chilled, and then comatose with so much food. We tend to spend Christmas as a family: my mum, two brothers and sister. But that has now been extended, with the addition of a new sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece. Christmas in Oxford – that’s where I grew up, and where the family home is – is usually wet or cold. I’m kind of glad we don’t have snow, as it makes getting around difficult. Sometimes we spend it together and, at other times, we have a party when we feel for it.
Our Nigerian heritage is represented on Christmas Day. You have to have jollof rice. There is no Christmas without jollof rice, beef, plantain and fish. But there are a few things that have to happen, if it’s just us a family. One is, I tend to do the cooking for Christmas – the one time my family will see me in the kitchen for hours. I season the meats Christmas Eve night, and then cook overnight on low heat, ready for serving come Christmas afternoon. One practice I love to do is to season the chicken with Baileys Irish Cream. It sounds odd, but the family love it and look forward to it.
My mum makes THE BEST leek and potato soup; it is a must. From teenagers to adults, we have to have it, otherwise there will be uproar if we don’t! We used to go to service on Christmas Day, when we were younger but, as we’ve gotten older, that has faded just a little. But we do pray in the morning, remembering why we celebrate and give thanks. Remembering and giving thanks to Christ is the real reason we celebrate and come together and fellowship.
Tolu Adepegba, also known as Lady T, is an award-winning radio and TV presenter, who has been blessing London airwaves for almost a decade on Premier Gospel Radio.
Selene C. Jordan
I come from a large family – Dad, Mum, seven siblings (five brothers and two sisters) and then there are the in laws, nephews and nieces! – and we have a longstanding arrangement, where everyone must get to headquarters (the family home, where Dad and Mum live) before midnight on Christmas Eve. We see midnight/Christmas Day in together, and then stay up playing games and watching movies. Christmas Day is a massive lounge day, with more movies, games, food, opening presents, singing and dancing – including the musicians of the family on our respective instruments (I’m a bass guitarist!) and, unless we have somewhere else to be, ie. the other side of in-laws, we’ll continue until Boxing Day – or even the day after that.
It’s all food, fun and games with the Jordan Family!
Selene C. Jordan is the host of Premier Gospel’s ‘Sunday Morning with Selene’. On your way to church, if you can’t go to church (or won’t go to church), Selene’s show has just what you need to put a smile and huge dose of hope in your day.
If I were in London for Christmas this year, I’d invade Croydon to purchase gifts for Brian and Jill Martin; Pastor Chris and First Lady Demetriou; Lawrence Johnson; Dave and Helen Paul at UGN Gospel; Pastor Peter and First Lady Cariss from the ARC Church; Lady T at Premier Gospel, and all the rest of the wonderful pastors and ministers, who made my tour of England a home away from home. Christmas is the best time of year and, maybe one Christmas soon, I will share the best day in the world in the best city in England! Much respect, love and power to all of you across the Pond.
D’Mott is an international gospel recording artist, and pastors the Remnant House Outreach Church in Buffalo, NY. He has toured London and France, and will be returning to the United Kingdom in the autumn of 2019.
Special thanks to our contributors: Sarah Téibo, Dave and Helen Paul, Anthony Faulkner, Selene C. Jordan, Deborah Denise, Tolu Adepegba and D’Mott.