This is a favourite time of year for most South Africans. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a South African Christmas might boggle the mind a bit.
A white Christmas with snow covered roofs, toasty fires and eggnog is a far cry from a summer Christmas and New Year in South Africa.
Our Christmas and summer holidays are all rolled into one. Families take off on vacation, factories and businesses close their doors and, those that can, head for the beach. You would be more likely to see Father Christmas (Santa Claus) in shorts and slops than a full red suit; barbeques and beers replace cooked dinners around the table and Christmas Day is spend lounging around a pool exchanging gifts with family and friends. South Africans love this time of year and summer fruits like fresh watermelon and spanspek are passed around. Children forget their school worries and spend all day in swim suits running around the Christmas tree. The New Year is a warm evening filled with cold drinks and bonfires.
Beaches are a riot of coloured umbrellas and swimmers. Shopping centres become a hazy mess of Christmas decorations, harassed staff and exhausted patrons. It’s just a part of the holiday season! We all complain about the chaos but secretly love the rush to get ready and the enjoyment of finally relaxing with family and friends as the festivities wind down.
I even have a favourite story about a family of holiday makers who celebrate Christmas Eve by waterskiing in nothing “butt” Christmas hats!
However, there is another, lonelier side of Christmas in South Africa, as in many parts of the world. Many children are left forgotten at this time of year, especially the orphans. It is a sad fact. However, there are a multitude of angels in our country who give selflessly of their time and money to remind those lost babies how beloved they are.
So, this holiday season, when you are piling your shopping baskets high and hugging your loved ones, spare a thought for those who smile in spite of their sorrow.