“Proper Christmas” just doesn’t work in South Africa. I tried to point this fact out in the article I wrote for the December issue of Emigrate2 magazine. There are plenty of reasons for this, but here’s the biggie: it’s the middle of bloody summer.
So: no chance of snow, it’s hot, it’s light, it’s bright and therefore it’s about as festive as genital herpes. (Obviously, I didn’t put that analogy in the emigrate2 thing: it’s a classy publication, not like this dross.)
Hence, at Christmas in SA, you get to take pictures of regular readers of 6000 miles… (both of you) slaving over hot braais. Christmas parties take place around swimming pools rather than around roaring log fires; mulled wine is entirely inappropriate and replaced by cold beers (in evidence in both those pics above – you can tell those guys are experts) and you head for the beach instead of watching the James Bond film* on Boxing Day morning.
All well and good, but not ever so atmospheric. Not in a “Proper Christmassy” way, anyway. So if you want to enjoy Christmas here, it’s very much a case of adapting to local conditions and not trying to make it like a Christmas back home. Embrace the change, enjoy the differences. It’s taken me a while, but this has been by far my best Christmas over here, simply because I’ve finally given up trying to fight the system**.
I have a friend who moved over here 2 months ago and who came for breakfast at Chez 6000 on Christmas Day. Seeing her looking so homesick brought back a lot of memories for me. Moving countries is a brave thing to do at any time, but I think that this time of year is definitely the toughest if you’ve done a UK to SA move. I know a lot of expats read this blog and if you’re finding it difficult, my advice to you is just to hang in there. It does get easier. And while you might be desperate for a cold and dark Christmas, try sms’ing your friends and family back in the UK from the beach. Mention the soft white sand and the gentle rolling waves. Hint at the soft, warm breeze that’s blowing and the sun beating down on your bikini-clad body***. Then ask them where they’d rather be right now.
Be prepared for some coarse language when they reply though.
(More Christmas pics are available for fans and family on the 6000 flickr page.)
* “Never say we’ve never seen this one before”.
** OK, watching 0.6 open his presents probably helped a bit too.
*** Probably best to leave this bit out if you’re a bloke.