Favourite Festive Season Goodies

The last post being rather negative, I thought I'd ponder some of the things I really enjoy about a Southern Hemisphere, my-life Festive Season:

* Hot weather - time out at the beach or pool (if the wind dies down), long lazy evenings as the heat lingers after sunset, nice tan, cool things to eat and drink, summer-holiday spirit.

* Family - concerted efforts to get together, and the time to do so. Re-thinking how we can connect and enjoying the communal over-indulge that is Christmas lunch. Growing up, we used to make an annual trek to the grandparents for Christmas - there's still a part of me that wants to re-instill that tradition. Nothing better than hanging out at the farm, enjoying a couple of summer storms and getting to shoot with the pellet gun! :)

* Presents - this year I have more of a list to give than what I'd like to get - but it's always fun to get! :) I have a good time picking out things I know others will enjoy, and being surprised by what others think I'll enjoy. And this year I'm having a great time hand-making a LOT of things.

* Holiday - everything slows down at the end of the year, and although there's still work pressure for me, the atmosphere lightens up. I get some time off and can sleep in. We forget which day of the week it is and have to figure it out by the TV programems we watched yesterday. My son's on holiday, the campus empties so it's nice and quiet, we can go places and do things we didn't have time for during the rest of the year.

* Christmas and New Year - somehow, the opportunity to see things as a new beginning, or to refocus on what's important makes one stop and really think about life and the future. Sure, we think about that anyway during the year, but it's a good reminder.

* Fireworks - we live on a hill that overlooks a lot of real estate, including the sweep of False Bay. Any excuse for fireworks, and they'll be going off at the beach. A few other places nearby do special New Year shows too. There's a kid in all of us that loves big, noisy, bright exploding things to ooh and aah over.

* Hugs and kisses - I love the after-Christmas-service greetings that go on - you even get to give that guy you might have a crush on a big fat kiss in the spirit of Christmas, though you would never dare otherwise. I don't get many hugs from anyone other than my son, and it's good to be hugged by a lot of people in a short space of time. Heck - even the pastor's in on it, not an everyday occurance! :)

* Great food - every festive season I get to make a lovely moist fruitcake, fruit mince squares (we call them "fly pies"), vegetarian turkey (a time-consuming task not to be taken lightly, but worth every second of hard labour!) and 3-bean salad (with usually more than 3 bean varieties in). I get to try out Aunty Heather's annual Trifle, perhaps even taste a morsel of whatever poor beast's been slaughtered and roasted for the occasion. There's the obligatory packet of Quality Street choccies lying around, boxes of biscuits, festive truffles, chips and dips, roast potatoes... oh, I could go on and on, but it's just before lunch and I'm making myself drool on the keyboard.

* Old, old stories - yes, the Christmas story, sometimes with surprising variations that make one think. But also grandpa's usual tale, that we've all heard a thousand times before, or the same old lame family joke, or the "remember when"s of childhood. Stories that come out of the closet and are aired every year, fondly remembered and then packed reverently away until the next time.

* Dress-up - us girls don't get enough opportunities to dress up these days. We miss looking like princesses sometimes. But Christmas and New Year give us excuses to haul out the pretty stuff and doll up the hair and face, and feel, just for a moment, really special.

* Smiling strangers - perhaps we're unique in South Africa, but it's a lot easier to smile at people in malls, on streets and at the beach over the festive season. If you're travelling afar and come across a car with a numberplate from your home town, you all wave like crazy at each other, flash your lights like old friends - though you wouldn't recognize each other back home, or care. You get into conversations at till points, or while waiting at the bank, or buying ice-cream. Instead of just ignoring each other, head down, feet motoring in your own direction.

* Annual Family Letters - once a year you get updates from all those folk you lost touch with, and find out who has married, who has changed jobs, who has died, who is trying something new. You cringe at the corny, and laugh at the unexpected. You compare last year's photos with this year's, and remember the days when conversations happened more than once a year.

There is so much more that I enjoy, but already I'm feeling Festive! :)