It’s been a very busy few weeks, as the kids and Chris wrapped up their respective schools and experienced what Christmas looks and feels like in Cape Town. One thing we weren’t expecting was the huge party atmosphere related both to the holidays but also to the end of the school year and start of summer vacation. As mentioned earlier, Christmas for South Africans is different than at home: there certainly is not as much commercialism, there isn’t pervasive amazon, there aren’t aisles and aisles of plastic toys to be purchased. Houses aren’t adorned with lights, and people (as far as we can tell) don’t send Christmas cards. What there are are lots and lots of those “crackers” (like toilet paper rolls that are pulled apart to release pre-loaded treats) and many opportunities for caroling; there are braais (barbecues) on sunny summer days and lots of bubbly and too many year end parties.
We were determined to bring with us traditions from home. I purchased some cheap “stockings” and some twine and a needle and embroidered our initials into each stocking – a poor but well intentioned attempt to recreate Grandmommy’s stockings. Pictures of our Christmas “tree” are in a separate post. We attended multiple carols and sang and laughed with close friends. And, with a nod toward one of our most cherished traditions from home, Charlotte and I held a cookie bake with friends here. Women and girls representing multiple countries, cultures and religions joined us for an afternoon of baking, silliness, decorating, bubbly, swimming (a new twist), singing and caroling.
The ingredients were “kind of” the same – ha ha. My friends and I scoured the stores looking for ingredients similar to those we use at home. One friend offered cookie cutters that, while including traditional favorites such as Santa, also represented a sub-Saharan Africa point of view: a giraffe, some elephants, the continent of Africa. The cranberry juice in the poinsettia drinks was a bit more fruit juicey; we had to constantly reference the “cheat sheet” of grams to kilograms to liters to ounces to cups, and we couldn’t quite get the oven temperature right.
It was REALLY fun.