Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas memories

I have lived in Africa more than half my life and in different life stages, (the first 12 years, 4 in the middle teen years, and the last 5 as a married Mum) and there are certain parts of me that are inextricably linked with Africa. Memories of my childhood, especially, are something I will never let go of, as they give me a sense of belonging, familiarity and something to pass on to my own children. One of my fondest memories is of Christmas in Zimbabwe, surrounded by a Very Large Family (in numbers, not weight) with so much activity, fun, sunshine (yes we still had sunshine in Africa in those days) food, drink and even peace and quiet. Being in the southern hemisphere and it being summer 'n all, there was no snow, and and it was never, never cold. So, to counteract this chilly, rainy day in today's southern hemisphere 'summer' (please can someone explain why global warming is so cold), this is my memory of Christmas in Africa.

My Christmas in Africa is synonymous with the daytime heat beating down on sun kissed children playing noisy games, or splashing in the pool outside, under the watchful eyes of numerous mothers; and all the Dads foregoing the sun to watch - read catch a few hours’ kip in front of - the cricket on TV. My Christmas is all about balmy evenings surrounded by family, the constant chatter punctuated by scraping cutlery on crockery and, always, laughter.

My dad is one of eight siblings and between them they have 21 children, my cousins, sisters and I, and every year we used to gather on a family farm, or in a resort somewhere in Zimbabwe, to spend Christmas together. We had long tables, decorated in silver, green, red and gold, and festively laid with countless plates, knives, forks, spoons and glasses, sometimes under towering trees in the garden, where we ate our Christmas lunch. There was a mountain of presents and always so much food and plenty of drinks flowing to keep everyone merry. But most of all there was family; lots and lots of us all exuding festive cheer.

Now that those children, my cousins and I, have grown up, and some of us had children of our own, the numbers are rather larger, and we are now spread over three continents and at least four countries, so those gatherings are, unfortunately, a distant memory for many of us. A memory that will, however, always be my perfect idea of Christmas in Africa. Now it is time to start making those memories for my children, so that in 20 years they can look back and remember, with great amusement, the things they did for Christmas as children in Africa.

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Geriatric Gapper said...

That's lovely, Jane. Happy memories. But, you are right. We must make new memories for those who come after us, so that, they too, can look back with happiness and say, "I remember..."

Mom de Plume said...

True that, Mum! Wish you were here :) Merry christmas!