This year Nick and I spent Christmas in Cape Town – it was the Westmoreland’s year to have us (I like to think of myself like a rock star, always in demand on the Christmas scene). This was my second SA Christmas, and actually only my 2nd away from my family too – how I managed to make it home from overseas or the other side of the country every year (or at least to convince my family to come visit me, like they did in Spain) is amazing to me, but it’s true. I got my first Christmas tree to put in our apartment – it was so cute! Though maybe just a touch bald in some places – but hey, pine trees are not indigenous here!
The Christmas lunch is the big game here. Nick’s mom and close family friend spend the week planning the menu, shopping, preparing, making sure the less culinarily-skilled are adequately carrying out our assignments. The result is a major feast. The meats are traditional, fillet (steak), gammon (I still have no clue how it is related to ham other than that it tastes as good!), maybe a chicken or turkey or other poultry. But the sauces, sides, salads are all incredibly gourmet with amazing ingredients I would never think to throw into the same bowl. Yum! I was in charge of the Pimm’s this year – I find it funny that they’d entrust such a quintesentially British drink to the only American around, but I guess I did drink enough in Brighton to cement my Pimms cred. Also a safe bet for a non-gourmet.
After all the Pimms and champagne and pink gins and and are drunk, the crowds start to disperse. Nick and his friends have another Christmas tradition which I think is fab – after the family celebrations, all the friends who are in town converge on a local bar to catch up and basically take the place over. The usual spot is a dive bar right on the water called Bart’s (no, not dive like scuba dive, a real dingy hole that has been known to inspire diving out the windows once a certain quantity of alcohol has been ingested…). Unfortunately, the advance teams this year said Bart’s was too packed, so a herd of us drove and called around until we found the one other place in Somerset West that was open Christmas. A group of about 10 of us showed up, and soon there were probably 50 people – mostly friends of Nick’s from school or who grew up together. There were a lot of people who live overseas back in town, or others who just hadn’t hung out together for years, so it was quite the reunion. It made me miss my friends from all my different lives – elementary and high school, college, work, grad school, DC, Sudan, Brighton, Liberia…the list goes on. As much as I have loved my life traveling all over the world, I do miss being able to reconnect with old friends like this.
I had a great Christmas in 2009, but missed my own family’s traditions in MN…and even the snow which came down there in epic proportions this year!