Sibongile Mafu

Christmas: A Welcome Hangover

2012-12-26 11:30

Sibongile Mafu

I've celebrated Christmas the same way for the past 15 years, and yesterday was no different. I wouldn't have it any other way.

My family's Christmas celebrations are as predictable as they are joyous. Every year since roughly around the time of Princess Diana's death, we've stuck to our tradition.

My mom is a church-going woman. She enjoys cooking and looking after her home. She will gladly cook for you every other day of the year except Christmas. In all the years I've known my mother, she says I've known her my whole life but my memory of the first three years of my life is murky, she has not cooked a single meal on December 25.

Every year on Christmas Day my family and our close family friends, who are basically our family, go out to a restaurant for Christmas lunch. Everyone makes sure to starve themselves throughout the day, and at about 14:00 (an unforgivably late time if you ask me) we head out for Christmas lunch. You're welcome to bring friends or partners to the lunch, but through the years the core group at the table has remained the same. No matter which part of the world you're living in, you need to make sure you come home on this day.

I love me some tradition. Tradition to me is basically looking forward to doing the same thing every year and not being completely bored by it. When I was younger I never understood why the schools I went to had these traditions, but as I grew older I understood the importance of wanting to go back to the familiar, especially in a world where so much is uncertain and also realising that some things you're just forced to do, because they've been done for so long and you mustn't ask questions.

So Christmas at our house (or rather at nice Italian man's restaurant) is a truly glorious time. No one feels any pressure to cook, there is never a pile of dishes waiting for a grumpy soul to tackle, and everyone can just sit down and enjoy each other.

As I've grown older and started to see less of my family during the year, I've started to realise the comfort of tradition and knowing exactly what will happen. A lot can happen within a year that we all have very little control over and knowing that every year, during the last week of December we can come together, is supremely comforting.

At the end of our Christmas lunch, the older gang go off to do their own celebrating with a Kenny G soundtrack and the younger gang (the youngest member being 35 - very ANC Youth League, I know) go and celebrate together and share stories - our successes and failures from the past year, and our resolutions for the New Year.

People say family keeps you grounded. It humbles you. I think for the most part that is true. Family reminds you of the sheer struggle it takes to raise a child, of the sacrifices that are made to make individuals excellent, or at least able to look after themselves in the world.

It's written in songs and uttered in movies - this is the most wonderful time of the year. A scheduled Thanksgiving where we're able to spend time with family that often run up us the wall, with uncles that continue to misbehave and with little cousins who grow exponentially each year. It’s a time that can melt even the most cynical of hearts.

And we're grateful for the New Year too, a time where we can slowly start stepping away from family time, tummies and hearts full, ready to tackle the year, so we can come back with more great stories to share.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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