For many in Zimbabwe, this Christmas was not the celebration they remember growing up, when festivities and good cheer were abundant.
Much of the conversation of late has centered around the lack of money to spend on even the most basic of things, like food, due to loss of jobs as companies close, or employers fail to pay salaries and bonuses.
This is a fact that many acknowledge, including Father Paul Gwese, Rector at the Greendale Anglican Church, in Harare.
“We’ve gone through a difficult time in our nation, the many retrenchments that have taken place, the job losses,” said Father Gwese.
While those with families and friends in the diaspora often get assistance with money for food and other goods, many without alternative means of money, find themselves stuck.
As a result, they forfeit annual Christmas and other holiday traditions such as travelling to their rural homes, on buses, often with loads of goods to share, or even entertaining friends and families at home.
But despite the apparent hardships, Zimbabwean pastors are urging their fellow citizens to remain steadfast and hopeful of a better future.
Reverend Josias Mudenda of the Methodist Church in Triangle, said Christmas day serves as a reminder of the importance of the occasion.
“The son of man is born to us. This commemoration is very important because it reminds us of what was done for you and me to be who we are today,” said Reverend Mudenda.
Adding to that, Father Gwese said the suffering does not mean that God no longer cares for his Zimbabwean children.
“I believe God cares for all of us, and God still has hope for all of us, and I believe we should approach 2016 with hope that God will turn around our nation for the better.”
Father Gwese also warns against expecting a miraculous turnaround in the coming year, saying challenges will always be there.
“Remember that 2016 comes with its own challenges and we must all be braced for them.”
As many ponder over the lack of gifts they were hoping to open this Christmas, Reverend Mudenda, reminded Zimbabweans that the most precious of all gifts is already in their hands.
“We want to thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ,” said Reverend Mudenda.