Saturday, 24 December 2016

Do They Know It's Christmas?

And by "they," I mean "we." I've got to admit, we've been having a tough time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I mean, of course we put up a bomb-ass tree, decked the crap out of the halls, and donned our gayest apparel. But because our friends and family are oceans away, we've missed out on the usual holiday parties, dinner planning, and general seasonal mirth that accompanies December back home. Also, the events that usually lead up to Christmas serve to prepare me for the holiday season. And they're all different this year:
  • Halloween (South Africa doesn't celebrate Halloween. Well, not really, anyway. Dressing up in a mask and knocking on strangers' doors is a good way to get shot).
  •  Remembrance Day (the public holidays here are obviously different from those in Canada)
  • Leaves falling (We're just coming into summer, so all the trees are aggressively leafy right now)
  • Being able to see your breath (Rather than see my breath in the cold, crisp, air, I've made the rather disconcerting discovery that my man-breasts are now large enough to produce underboob sweat (note to self- lay off the koeksisters)).
  • Boogers freezing in your nose (nope, but apparently the summer allergies from which I thought I escaped back home followed me to South Africa)
  • Christmas 
The sequence is all off. Also, remember how I told you that South Africa FEELS familiar to start with, but not really? If not, you can read about it here. Christmas is the same thing. It kinda looks like home, but with some key differences.

Here are some Christmas observations from an outsider's first December in South Africa:
  1. I'm not entirely sick of Christmas music yet. In fact, I've barely heard any at all. This might be because singing about sleigh bells, snowmen, and Frosty the Snowman really have no relevance here. Whatever the reason, while I HATED Christmas music back home, I actually kind of miss it. 
  2. Santa Claus here isn't the Santa we know. It makes sense that the costumes are flimsier- the temperature has been in the mid-30s the last little while here. Combine all that Santa sweat with the thousands of litres of kid urine I'm sure soaks into the suit, and by the end of the season, Santa would smell like a glorious combination of skunk colon, despair, and a bag full of whatever the collective internet would smell like if we could sniff it. But other than that, they still don't give a crap. The beards are fake 9 times out of ten, and not fake like your best friend Becky who tells you your jeans don't make you look fat in such a convincing way that you don't find out until later that she posted a picture on Instagram of your behind rammed into denim juxtaposed with a chubby cat in overalls.
    My Google Image search for "fatass cat in jeans" didn't disappoint. 
    No. I mean FAKE fake. Like "you can see the chin strap and smell last night's bad decisions" fake. And Santa isn't even the main event. Seriously. There aren't any lineups at all. What the kids DO love are the Christmas fairies. What do fairies have to do with Santa? Yep, nothing. It doesn't have to make sense. This is South Africa. NOTHING makes sense here. But these fairies will face paint the crap out of your kid who's terrified of creepy Santa, so there's that.
    This is as close as she'd get to Santa. I don't blame her.
  3. Christmas lights. Or lack thereof. In our security complex (there will be a blog about security in the near future), there's one house that decorated the outside.One. We kind of get a pass this year because we're so new, but I did tell the neighbours who decorated that it's ON next year. It's not just our complex, either. You have to look hard to see Christmas lights anywhere. Probably because except in very few areas, they'd be stolen before you put the ladder away.
  4. The whole country shuts down. I'm not even kidding. From about Dec 10 to Jan 15, what little work that usually goes on comes to a screeching halt. And I don't think the concept of having somebody to cover for people who are on vacation has caught on here. Everybody seems to have ONE job, and if the person who's responsible for that job happens not to be there, you're out of luck. (again, there will be a future post about this).
  5. Where are the Christmas movies? We pay a ridiculous amount for DSTV here, the equivalent of cable back home. It's great. We get a boatload of channels that play only repeats. But we can watch LOTS of repeats. You'd think that with more than 100 channels, we could find MAYBE one Christmas movie during the month of December. But nope. Thankfully we finally got our internet at home connected, so at least we can find some on Netflix.
  6. The heat. Holy Moses, the heat. I associate Christmas with snow, hot chocolate, and thousands of drivers who are caught off guard by the weather, despite the fact winter arrives literally every year. In Pretoria today, it's going to be 33 degrees. For some of you, that sounds nice, but I'm finding it super hard to get into the Christmas spirit when I'm sweating like a leper in a tilt-a-whirl.
There are a ton of other things I can talk about, but these were the ones that really stuck out. We still don't know many people here yet, and we don't have any family here, so we're going super low key this year. We'll do a small dinner, then probably just jump in the pool.

Do you feel sorry for us yet?
But to be honest, that's all we need. And it will be nice to just relax. One thing about feeling isolated is that it really brings you closer together as a family. So you can have your snow, your Christmas carols, and your North American efficiency- we've got each other. 

1 comment:

  1. I'd rather go with fairies as they are more believable than the Santa Claus fallacy. For one thing, I'm a bad liar... I can only take the Santa Claus lie any further with my girls without tripping on the idea that he's not real. I'm waiting for the day my youngest gets into high school so I don't have to buy the multitude of presents on behalf of someone else!
    Loving the posts. Best one so far was the traffic police. I wonder how far that would go in Asian countries (especially in the Philippines for me). They might bring out the machetes.
    When I come this month, I'm going to carry that Act and see if it will work if it happens. My reaction may depend on what I've watched on the overseas flight. I wonder how the traffic cop would react to someone who goes ghetto on them after watching a Menace II Society and Straight Outta Compton for a few hours after an overseas flight... and then throw in the traffic act in the mix? "You want something for unlawfully pulling me over and wasting my time?? Eat a *ick up M*th@F^ck#r!"...then peel off. Too much? :o)
    Looking forward to the visit to JoBurg!