A Christmas Festival

Here we are halfway through the Festive Season once again.  Blink and it’s over.

Last year this time I was still in hospital struggling with my cancer treatment, knowing I would in all likelyhood get through it but nevertheless felt as though my life was at an end and I would never realise my dreams and get to that Bucket list.

I spent a lot of time thinking about life and what my priorities were.  Thinking about those who are important to me and regretting petty squabbles with those I hold dear to my heart.

I still haven’t realised any of my dreams or tackled that Bucket list but that is another topic for discussion.

I no longer hold grudges as life is too short.  It is not worth carrying hurt with you.

I ended my marriage quite a few years ago and I remember the first Christmas after.  Sad I was not with my Children, but I had made a decision which I have no regrets about.  I didn’t want to put my Children in a position where they would have to chose one parent over the other or them feeling guilty about not being with the other parent.  It was not a choice I wanted them to make.  So I stepped back and gladly let their Dad have Christmas.

The reality is that we do not need “Christmas” in order to have a good time with our children.  I still do Christmas with my Children but just not on the 25th December and we usually try to celebrate “MY” Christmas on the 5th December which is when the Dutch celebrate theirs.  My boyfriend is Dutch and it was one way of bringing our two families and traditions together in my new life too.

There are many broken families out there where only one parent shares in the joy of this festive season.  And many single parents are left at home alone, heart broken.

I am blessed to have very dear friends who I now spend Christmas with and consider them all part of my extended family.  We celebrate with many different family traditions, great food, great wine and great conversation.

Each year I get to have my own Christmas Festival starting with Christmas with my Children in early December and culminating with Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner with very close friends whose friendship I value most.

From someone who is truly blessed, I wish you all a Blessed Christmas too and hope all your dreams and wishes are realised in the coming year.

Merry Christmas all!

Image result for christmas dinner

History in the making – The Death of an Icon

This last week has been full of so many memorable occasions, some good and some bad.

The week started off with my sons Valedictory service on Monday night.  And his subsequent guest status at the launch of the Official Nelson Mandela Opus on Tuesday. (Read my 2 previous posts)

Wednesday saw the end of our school year (yippee – no more school run for 6 weeks and I get to sleep past 4am)

Thursday – well let me start my story off from here……

Thursday was memorable for more than one thing and has certainly been a memorable one for people all over the world.

We had our staff End-Of-Year lunch function on Thursday afternoon at a place called Gilroys out near Muldersdrift.  We each had to bring a R50 (about $5) gender neutral gift.  So after ordering our first round of drinks, we assembled all the gifts on a table.  Each person had to pick a gift from the table and open it.  If you didn’t like your gift, you could swop it with anyone else’s gift within 30 seconds.  So this provided quite a bit of entertainment.  Some of the more popular gifts were:

The most popular gift which was swopped out many a time

Another popular gift – emergency kit consisting of clown nose, bowtie and hanky

And a notepad that provided hours of entertainment

Once the gifts were all opened, we had to move to another table under cover as it looked like it was going to rain.  Someone then started off a game – It had to do with the notebook above.   A basic picture was drawn and the notepad was passed around and we each had to add to it.  This provided loads of giggles all round and was a load of fun.

The before picture

The after picture

Then it started to rain – hard!.  There was another group of people sitting near us under cover – they were obviously also having their end of year function and their group were all still arriving.  There was a little bit of a walk from the carpark to the venue so they were all rather soaked by the time they got to their tables.  Of course by now we were in a rather festive spirit and decided to have a “Wet T-shirt shirt/blouse competition”.  We quickly drew up some numbers on the back of the menu’s that were left laying around and we started scoring their guests as they arrived.

Scoring at it’s best!

After this, it was time for a late lunch which was awesome.  There is nothing better than a pub lunch.  By this time the other group sitting behind us had had rather far too much too drink and were very rowdy so we asked to be moved to another area.

The rest of the afternoon was spent just having good fun and being entertained with a few jokes by our host (Owner of the bar who looks just like Father Christmas).

Most of our group left late afternoon and a few of use were left lingering over some coffee and chatting for a few hours.  It was a very pleasant afternoon.

I eventually got home around 7.30pm in the evening.  Little did I know the day would offer more surprises.

I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting to a few friends via social media.  Eventually to bed.  I had just dozed off when my phone went DING.   It was late – just gone midnight and I thought it strange that someone was messaging me at this time of night.

So curiosity got the better of me and I had a look at who it was.  It was Son no 3 who was currently staying over at a friends house.  The message read was as follows:

And this is how I found out that the Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela had died.  It came as a huge shock.  My son was upset – his icon had died and he had not had the opportunity to meet him as yet.

I quickly nudged dead hubby who had been fast asleep for ages.  He woke with a fright and was very shocked by the news.  Hubby is the COO of the stadium where the memorial service is to be held at so he spent the rest of the night on the phone with various people putting plans into action.

I don’t think anyone got much sleep on Thursday night.  We all knew this moment would arrive and we were all prepared, but little did we know it would come as a shock regardless.

Lanthie Ransom

Absent Family and Friends

Christmas is a joyous time and brings so many families and friends together one way or another. Filled with joy and laughter and the screams of young children running around playing. 

But sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, we are not able to be with those we love and cherish and this post is dedicated to all those families and friends who are not able to share in this joyous occasion together.
My second eldest son was not able to join us this year for a second year in a row. He lives in Dubai and he was not able to get away from work to spend the time with us and as much as we wanted to, it was not possible for us to join him in Dubai either.
It goes unsaid that I love all my children with all my heart. It pains me to not have all my sons with me during this time. I accept that we will not all be able to be together in years to come and they will all make new lives with their own families and friends one day. 
I usually find myself taking loads of pictures over Christmas for my photo album – filled with memories of times gone by. I couldn’t take any pictures this year. Somehow it was admitting that I would be making memories without my son – not something I want to do willingly. So it is hard, really hard to enjoy the season and even harder to explain this.   I am a sensible woman and I know I am being silly and stupid, yet it makes perfect sense to me. It is like a puzzle with a missing piece or a jersey with an extra arm.  My life is just not complete.   I also know I am not alone and there are so many of you who have friends or family who could not be with you during this season either.
Unlike so many other people, I have so much to be grateful for.  I am surrounded by people I love and that love me and for that I am truly thankful.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. 
By Tomas Jefferson

Holidays at last

Well the end of the year is upon us. Kids are finally finished school and I can sleep a little later in the mornings.

Kids got their reports and son no 4 brought home an academic achievement award and a book prize. I am so proud of him. Both sons did really well and they are certainly looking forward to a good long holiday. Not to mention Christmas as well.  We don’t usually go away over the December holidays so we have a quiet few weeks at home doing nothing – feet up on the coffee table / occasional swim in the pool.
I had my staff luncheon on Friday which was superb. We went to a restaurant which was recommended to me. I arranged cocktails and mezze platters on the outside deck, then lunch inside in the restaurant and then deserts and coffee on the deck. The deck was so comfortable and my staff were all having a good time chatting away. The mezze platters were delicious and everyone devoured them – not because we were all starving, but because the food was amazing. Eventually every one agreed that we didn’t want to go inside and have lunch. So I arranged a few more mezze platters and we all sat for hours talking. No one got pissed or abusive – just a bunch of really nice people having a good time. Best party ever! And I had a really proud moment looking at my staff – there was something about looking at them all together for a change and feeling that they are really a great bunch of people and I am really happy to work with them all.

We have been getting corporate gifts from various companies. Hubby and I don’t drink so companies we work with have to think about what gifts to get us. We hardly ever get the obligatory bottle of wine or whiskey. Some of the gifts received so far are:

Cage full of tasty goodies

Model of the FNB Stadium
Hubby and I went shopping on Saturday morning to do some Christmas shopping. We are struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this year. The kids are old enough to not want a gazillion presents – just 1 or 2 meaningful gifts. Hubby and I haven’t been down the toy aisles for years now and hubby mentioned that it is about time we had a grandchild – this would certainly bring back some of the Christmas spirit. 

We are not religious at all so the term “Christmas Spirit” is used very loosely. Religion has not played any part in our lives, but we do celebrate Christmas – not that we celebrate any of the beliefs or traditions. We made our own traditions over the years – the Christmas tree comes out on the day that school closes. Presents go under the tree as I buy and wrap them. I don’t put from whom the gifts are from – just who they are for. We wake up early on Christmas Day. Hubby and I have a quiet cup of tea and then wake the kids up. We then open our presents. I make a huge lunch – roast turkey, gammon, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts and pumpkin. Then in the afternoon we play games or watch a movie together. Now that the kids are older – they are not in a hurry to wake up and would rather sleep in. So the urgency surrounding the opening of presents is no longer there.   Hubby and I sleep a little later and the cup of tea lasts a little longer. 
Most companies close down this week so my emails are dramatically less than usual and I finally have time to catch up. I spent the day cleaning out storerooms on Monday and I even rewired our network patch panel on Tuesday We are having a new IP surveillance system installed tomorrow so I wanted to get the cabling sorted before they did the installation. 

I had my nails done this week and even had time to get my hair done with a little work in between. If only all days could be like this!

Kommin Krismis

I have been blogging for around 6 months now.  It is not something that comes naturally to me – I am a very private / reserved person and it is difficult putting my thoughts and life down in a public forum.  But I do find it somewhat therapeutic and have found that it is a huge stress reliever.  One of the most difficult things about blogging, is finding things to blog about.  So I do a huge amount of research and reading of other peoples blog’s – to get general ideas, tips and tricks etc.

One of the blogs I read often and thoroughly enjoy is by a woman who lives in Cape Town – she blogs about her life and dealing with 3 children – A typical “Mom’s” blog.  She is very entertaining though so please have a look at her blog: http://reluctantmom.wordpress.com/

Anyway – in her recent posts – she has told us about how she spends Christmas – instead of the traditional Christmas lunch – they have what is called Kommin Krismis (or Common Christmas for those who are not familiar with the South African Dialect).

She describes this as being a get together of family and friends on Christmas day – but with a twist.  Kommin Krismas consists of a bring your own braai.  They use paper plates, plasticwear, paper cups, wine in a box etc (not a turkey in sight).  They all dress up as commoners – complete with tramp stamps, curlers in hair, men in sweaty, sleevless vests etc.  Gifts are cheap and chearful and they have made a pact to use their gifts for at least 3 months before throwing them away.

I am posting 2 links below – the first link is her telling us about what they are going to do and describing Kommin Krismis.  The second link is her telling us about the day – with pics.

This is not something my family would appreciate, but I thought it a novel idea…

‘Twas the week before Christmas

Well Christmas is finally over. Missed Son no 2 terribly this year. This is my first year where I have not had the pleasure of having all 4 of my sons with me. I could ramble on about empty-nest syndrome but I will leave that for another post.

Summary of this week’s events as follows:

  • Monday – did nothing – sat on the couch and watched TV.
  • Tuesday – went to see Mission Impossible and then went out for lunch.
  • Wednesday – Went last minute Christmas shopping at Sandton City and had brunch with Son no 1’s wife and her mother.
  • Thursday – Decided to have a braai – purchased a Lamb pack a week earlier which stated the contents as Lamb “Chops” – upon defrosting, there were around 5 chops and the rest was stewing meat – so very annoyed with Pick ‘n Pay (our local Supermarket) I hate being lied to! Should have taken it back and complained but just did not have the energy. 
  • Friday – Went out early and had breakfast at Wimpy. Bought dog food and went to the pharmacy for Hubby’s chronic medication.
  • Saturday – Hubby woke me up early. I made some tea and went back to sleep on the couch for awhile. Then got up, cleaned the house and washed clothes etc. (I like to wake up to a clean house on Christmas morning).

And finally it was Christmas morning…

Got up early, had tea with Hubby and then had a bath. Now that the kids are older – there is no mad rush to get up at the crack of dawn anymore – the kids would rather sleep in.

Woke Son no 3 and 4 up. Son no 1 and his wife arrived at around 7am. Made more tea and we all sat and opened presents. I must admit that we are not very religious and we celebrate Christmas for the sake of having one day where we spoil each other rotten.

It is getting more and more difficult to buy presents each year as our Sons have grown up. There are no more toys and Lego under the tree, no more stockings to fill the night before. These have been replaced with expensive gadgets and computers. This year we decided to buy one gift only for Son’s no 3 and 4 – we bought them each an iPad. I purchased these early to avoid the Christmas rush so it ended up with us buying more gifts as time went on. The iPads were exactly what they wanted so they were extremely happy. I got some “bling” from Swarovsky so I too was very happy.

I then started to prepare Christmas lunch. This year there was only 6 of us to cater for – this is the smallest Christmas lunch we have had for many many years. There is usually my 4 Sons, my mother-in-law, Son no 1’s wife, Son no 2’s girlfriend, and Hubby’s sister and her family and occasionally a few friends. This year however was different – mother-in-law is in Cape Town with Hubby’s sisters (Joburg based sister moved down to Cape Town this year), Son no 2 now lives in Dubai and him and his girlfriend are no longer together. So this year it was just Hubby and I, 3 of our Sons and Son no 1’s wife.

Still prepared the usual Turkey, Ham, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes, Gravy, Chipolata Sausages, Bacon, Brussel Sprouts and Pumpkin. As you can guess – we ate far too much and and we now have loads of leftovers.

Spent the rest of the day watching “Ridiculousness” – the kids loved this and we spent the rest of the day laughing at other peoples mishaps.

Finally the day was over. And just like that we are almost at the end of the year.

I hope you all had the privilege of spending Christmas with family and friends too.