By Sholain Govender-Bateman – an experienced news reporter, magazine editor, freelancer, loving wife to Barry, mum of one beautiful girl, Isobel and someone with a passion for life and everything fun.
Christmas is my favourite time of the year but when Barry, my husband, and I celebrated together for the first time four years ago it took quite a lot of convincing to get him into the Christmas spirit. He’s English South African who had spent his childhood exchanging gifts on Christmas Day and having a casual lunch of cold meats and salads with extended family.
“Is that it?” I remember thinking that first year. It would be my first Christmas ever away from my family(formerly Hindu now Baptist) with all of our traditions – a Christmas Eve braai and swimming, then awoken at the crack of dawn and sitting around the decorated Christmas tree adorned with flashing lights, glittering decorations and overflowing with Christmas gifts lovingly chosen and wrapped. After the flurry of gifts, hugs, thanks, oohs and aahs – everyone sits around the dining room table – still dressed in pjs, and has tea and minced fruit pies. All the church-goers get ready for the morning service and in between, my mum prepares all the traditional side dishes as the turkey roasts. This must include the potato salad, three bean salad, beetroot, gherkins, steamed broccoli, baby carrots, green beans and corn with garlic butter, fresh rolls, honey glazed gammon, roast potatoes, roasted chicken for the non turkey eaters, baby onions covered in bacon(my personal favourite) and of course the turkey roast to perfection and stuffing. Lunch is followed by an afternoon of dozing or admiring gifts, and just old-fashioned family bonding. Boxing Day is usually a seafood feast with curried prawns, crab, savoury rice and salads. Yummy.
So it was with sadness that I contemplated a Christmas that was not too Christmassy with my husband’s family until I realised that I didnt have to miss out on all my favourite traditions! That year I organised a Christmas Eve dinner with all the Govender family Christmas lunch menu items.
Now hubby, who was very against decorations and Christmas trees, helps untangle the Christmas tree lights on December 1st and this year I may try to convince him to play Santa to our one-year daughter, Isobel ! We alternate between in-laws so we get the best of both family traditions and we’ve got our very own Christmas traditions for the three of us – a Christmas Eve turkey dinner complete with crackers and silly paper hats and champagne, early morning gift opening, then visiting family and of course dozing the rest of the day whilst snacking on left over turkey for the rest of the month!
One thing that I do know is that regardless of the food or gifts at Christmas-time, the most special part is seeing your family (even if you have to put up with a few annoying relatives – yes, everyone has at least one), having a good laugh with them and just caring for those close to you.
Contact Sholain Govender-Bateman on +27 72 867 3474 if you have freelance writing, editing or sub-editing that you want done.