Growing up for me christmas was a time for family and food, and ofcourse lots and lots of play. We traveled home to rural Lusikisiki or eMatatiele to be with cousins and grandparents. Where we spent most of the time being sent on errands, dodging those errands, having our cheeks pinched and being sent by older cousins to go swipe a snack from the kitchen without the adults catching you. If we didn’t travel, we frequented the beach or drove to the next dorpie for a mini family holiday.
I grew up in East London, gifts under the tree on christmas day were not a thing. We got treats almost daily during the festive season, as well as new clothes. The bonus- no school- so the entire festive season is the actual gift. We would spend almost every weekend at the summer carnival in orient beach, other days our dad would make a beach braai day and we would swim till we were called back for braai meat and snacks.
We spent most of christmas eve cooking eating the day after. I had a yearly task every christmas to bake muffins and everyone knew this was my task on Christmas day. Everyone else had their bits so my sister cooked the meat and we all did salads. On Christmas day we started with church in the morning followed by lots of eating. Although other kids would go door to door asking for ïkrismesi”, my parents never allowed us to do that, for safety of course so the tradition for us was the giving of those sweets and treats to kids who came to our door. That is what Christmas looks like in sunny south Africa.
Having a family of my own now and also one that’s very far from my family means relearning and defining what my own Christmas tradition will be for my little family. I can say we actually have not yet got that down yet because the kid is only two years old and the past two years have been about us trying to balance visiting each of our parents sides and just joining in the festivities- cooking, beach, sweets and braais of-course. And chances are thats what it will be year on year. This year we are taking a break from the travel and doing Christmas in Cape Town, our new home. No script for how we will be doing this christmas but happy for the break and grateful for an amazing year of lessons and a happy, healthy family.