Every year I write about how I wish I could have a “white” Christmas. This year I won’t. Instead, I am going to write about what makes my African and summer Christmas’s the best.
Every December, since before I can remember, my family has gathered together to celebrate Christmas down at the coast. Mum would pull out all of the spare linen and mattresses and my house would be filled to the brim with aunts and cousins and grandparents and crying babies and awkwardly shy new boyfriends or girlfriends of cousins, bravely spending their first Christmas with my family.
At 5am on Christmas morning, just as the sun starts to peak out beyond the horizon (Christmas in the summer means an early start…) the youngest of us would wake in excitement and run through the house declaring “Santa came! Santa came! Presents for everyone!” and we would all (somewhat begrudgingly) make our way to the living room, where beneath an enormous Christmas tree lay hundreds of perfectly- and not so perfectly- wrapped gifts.
Being hot and humid as it is during the summer months, we would not leave out milk and cookies for Santa. Instead a refreshing beer and a slice of my grandmother’s famous banana loaf were left on a porcelain plate near the windowsill instead.
All morning we would slave away in the kitchen preparing a huge feast. Turkey, chicken, gammon glazed in honey, sweet potato pie, roast veg, grilled potatoes, fresh salads, pasta salads, cold meats, calamari, and anything else you could possibly think of made its way to our Christmas lunch table.
As it would normally be hot and sunny, we would decorate our outdoor yard with fairy lights and umbrellas and have our feast in the garden. Laden with hundreds of dishes, the table would also groan under the weight of my mum’s finest silverware, Christmas crackers and plenty of wine and ice cold lemonade.
Afterwards, we would gather up our dishes, rub our full bellies and relax in the shade, or take a nap in the sun. The Cricket would always be playing in the background and the house would lull into a peaceful and fulfilled silence.
I may not get snow men and warm fireplaces to go along with my Christmas, but I love it all the same.
So to everyone celebrating a summer Christmas, I hope it is merry and warm and wonderful.