Tag Archives: Christmas

“Christmas, bah humbug!”

When you’re trying to fall pregnant, waiting for your period is a bit like waiting for a last minute pardon when you’re in the executioner’s chamber, or the sound of the buzzer indicating the end of a boxing match round when you’re up against a mammoth opponent. Will the tampons and panty liners win, or will a positive sign on a pregnancy test declare victory?

For the past year we’ve been trying in earnest to conceive a baby. The timing hasn’t been perfect by a long shot, but I’m not getting any younger and nor is my husband. My life has begun to centre around my monthly ovulation timetable. There’s no romance involved, just serious baby-making business. Given the total focus, when the attempts to fall pregnant fail month on month, it’s hard not to take it personally.

This past week has been particularly taxing though. I confess: I was truly convinced I was pregnant! I knew it was too early to officially tell, yet for the first time since we’ve been trying for a baby, I just had that “feeling” that this time I really was. Throw in several early symptoms of being pregnant (complete exhaustion, some severe mood swings, tender breasts and an absurd food craving), and my hopes were cemented. And so the wait for my period was torturous; a volatile combination of excitement, eagerness, impatience and anxiety.

In a cruel dashing of hopes, I began to spot today. I sat on the loo with tears streaming down my cheeks and lamenting that I am being punished for my past sins. Motherhood has never before been so elusive. At a time when I should be celebrating Christmas with cheer and thanks giving, I am mourning the loss of a child that wasn’t even conceived. How pathetic! The worst is that I can’t even vent my feelings openly (other than writing this blog post).

I therefore apologise for being dark and gloomy in the full knowledge that you’ll understand when I say these words:
“Christmas, bah humbug!”.

Reinventing Christmas – the South African way

I can’t believe it – Christmas is one week away and I officially have only three working days left before my husband and I take a well-deserved break!

Santa Claus on holidayChristmas time in South Africa is a major holiday period.  Most companies shut down, the schools are closed, and construction grinds to a halt. It’s the peak of summer time – South Africa is in the southern hemisphere of course – which means a myriad of outdoor activities in the sun, swimming, eating and relaxing.  People pack their swimming costumes, sun screen, slip-slops and braais (barbeques for those that need clarification) and head down to the beautiful South African coasts.

It can hardly be called a traditional Christmas by international standards!  No snow, no cold weather and no hot drinks by a warm, crackling fire.  Well, at least that’s how I picture a “white Christmas”.  Strangely though, despite our hot climate, it seems that the whole Christmas experience is still portrayed as a European one.  Fake snow spray-painted adorn shop windows, plastic snowflakes hang as decorations, fake fir trees act as the traditional Christmas tree, and sometimes even cotton wool or silver tinsel is added to give a snow-like effect on the tree.  In the shopping malls, kiddies queue for a chance to be photographed with Santa Claus sitting in an authentic looking North Pole scene, and Christmas carols ring out telling a joyful tale of jingle bells, dreaming of a white Christmas or dashing through the snow. 

The Christmas Baobab Tree at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The Christmas Baobab Tree at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

I love the whole Christmas splendour and consider it my favourite time of year.  However, a cold snowy Christmas is just never going to happen for us!  I can just imagine how fun it would be to reinvent Christmas – the South African way!  So here are my top five suggestions for bona fide South African festive cheer:

  • Instead of a Father Christmas clad in his red winter woollies and sitting in a winter wonderland, how about the image of Santa Clause taking a holiday in South Africa? How cute would he look bare bellied in long red baggy shorts, wearing slip-slops and sunglasses?  Now that’s South African!
  • Let’s ditch the fake white and green fir trees, and opt for a metal baobab tree (for example) that can be decorated with true African flair.  That means Frosty the snow man figurines and sparkly snowflakes are out, and carved wooden and beaded decorations are in.
  • In fact, no more fake snow – ever!  I don’t even have an alternate suggestion … just no more fake snow under any circumstance (just ignore the falling snow on my blog site) :-P
  • For Christmas lunch, swop out the piping hot glazed gammon, stuffed turkey and lamb roast served with roasted potatoes and vegetables for cold turkey, and other cold meats of choice, with a creamy potato salad and a crisp green salad.  A good wholesome braai would also be a great South Africa option.  The same can be said for the hot pud:  a boozy trifle, syrupy koeksisters and a fridge milk tart are excellent dessert alternatives. There is only one exception here:  Malva Pudding splashed with cream or cold custard.
  • Why do we drink egg nog, sherry or gluhwein? Doesn’t it defeat the objective to warm yourself up when you’re standing under an air conditioner trying to escape the summer heat?  I’m voting for cooler substitutes such as chilled sparkling wine, refreshing cocktails and icy cold juices.

And here’s my last word for 2012:  have a ball, be safe, and most importantly, appreciate what you have and with whom you share your life. 

In all eleven of our official languages: “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year”; “Geseënde Kersfees en voorspoedige Nuwejaar” (Afrikaans); “Ukresimusi omnandi nonyaka omutjha omuhle” (IsiNdebele); “Keresemese e monate le mahlohonolo a selemo se setjha” (Sesotho); “Mahlogonolo a Keresemose le ngwaga wo moswa wo monate” (Northern Sotho); “Masego a Keresemose le Boitumelo mo Ngwageng o Mošwa” (Setswana); “Khisimusi lomuhle kanye neMnyaka lomusha lonenjabulo” (SiSwati); “A ku vi Khisimusi lerinene naswona a ku vi lembe lerintshwa lerinene” (Xitsonga); “D.uvha l.a mabebo a Murena na N.waha muswa zwavhud.i” (Tshivenda); “Krisimesi emnandi nonyaka omtsha onamathamsanqa” (IsiXhosa); and “Ukhisimusi omuhle nonyaka omusha onenjabulo” (IsiZulu).

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