I don't do presents at Christmas so a lot of people assume that means I'm a bit of a Scrooge about the whole season.
But they couldn't be more wrong.
Christmas for me is all about time spent with family and friends I love to pieces. I've been feeling pretty nostalgic this December and put my tree up on the 1st when usually I put it up when I finish teaching round about the 18th or 19th.
My lovely friend Chantal and I had a mini tree decorating party. Just her and me. The festivities involved:
- good food
- Christmasish music
- quite a bit of mulled wine
- and the inevitable set of lights which didn't work,
The result was this shining example of a Christmas tree you see before you.
It's always a fake tree because being South African I don't know any other kind.
My strongest childhood memories are of lengthy journeys in our Hillman (later a bright yellow VW Beetle) to friends and family on Christmas Day. Until we moved into our house in Fleurhof when I was about 12, we lived in a tiny one bedroom council flat so Christmas never came to us. We always went to it.
The 2 or 3 days before would see my mother preparing an assortment of goodies. She always said that at Christmas and on birthdays one was allowed all their favourite foods so that was what she cooked. This made for an eclectic Christmas table as the dishes ranged from things like Koeksisters to Prawn curry.
My father served as entertainment on the journey to where ever it was we were spending Christmas that year. This was for two reasons:
- he had an exceptional singing voice
- for many years the cars we owned did not have radios.
The journey gave my mother and I the opportunity to put in a musical request list: anything by Elvis, Johnny Mathis – A Child is Born, Tom Jones – The Green Green Grass of Home, and many many more.
Some journeys lasted 2 hours so that involved a bit of Padkos along the way too. That was mum's job but it was important not to fill us up before the main Christmas fill up began when we got to our destination. So we had mini meatballs or a Vetkoek with some mince. For longer journeys she broke out the Samosas and chicken drumsticks.
And when we got to our destination there was the joy of hugging friends or family, talking over each other, table setting, laughter, music, eating, getting my first taste of Amarula, playing card games or Scrabble, dancing Langarm if there was enough room and so much more.
Finally, around 11pm we would start packing the car for the return journey. Our hostess would hand over the obligatory Padkos even though we were filled to the brim. Mum and dad would chat about the day and things that had made us laugh or cry. I would fall asleep on the back seat with a multitude of delicious food smells emanating from the foil wrapped leftovers.
I'm sure some of these Christmases also had their fair share of family conflict as often comes with the festive season. But I cannot remember any of this.
And that is testament to the effort made by my parents I'm sure.