/ 15 December 2011

‘Tis the season to be sunning oneself

In exactly a week from now I, like many South Africans, will decamp to the coast to become a beach bum. I look forward to it enormously and hope to return to Jo’burg refreshed and replenished.

I am rather hoping that the sea waters will wash away the fatigue and foibles of the year. I am also wishing that building castles in the sand will renew a childlike enthusiasm and zest for life — but maybe not even the strong exfoliant qualities of sea salt are enough to wash away the murky grime of this tumultuous year.

Rough one, don’t you think? Unless you live in a hole, which I sometimes yearn for, the goings-on of the year in South Africa have really taken their toll. If you love your country and are committed to it you can’t help but feel a bit damaged while reflecting on much of what has come to pass. To ease our frenetic existence, a total switch-off really is needed.

So what are the best tricks to use to survive this festive season in the midst of a gloomy economy and a political malaise? What do we do to be well, festive and cheerful? There is precious little about it, really. We need a serious dose of escapism.

Here are some mind games I will use in order to feel relaxed.

The words “Malema” and “Zuma” are to be completely excised from our daily vocabulary for at least the first 10 days of the holiday. These words will go out the window, to be replaced by far more urgent matters such as “Where is my beach towel? — Where is the sunblock?” Useful phrases like that, you see.

I will also refuse to converse with people who want to engage me on the state of the economy. The only money matters worth looking into will be critical questions such as “How much is that ice cream?”

Then of course there is the big feast with family on Christmas Day. One needs a survival kit of a different nature for this. First, which of the traditional Christmas offerings will you be designated to prepare?

A lot of thought and planning goes into this and one doesn’t want to be the party-spoiler whose dish turns out to be the damp squib of the day. Oh, the pressure!

Of course the only disadvantage to having a city-based Christmas feast and not one emakhaya is that one misses out on the pleasure of slaughtered meat that goes straight from the fire into your belly. There is also the delicious tripe, which one sadly has to forego.

As children, we especially looked forward to the special Christmas outfits our parents would buy for us to wear on that special day. Everything had to be brand-new on Christmas Day, from the socks right up to the hair-band holding together your two braided plaits. We would parade the streets to show off to the neighbourhood children and compare outfits and gifts with our friends. Even now, as grownups, we are still looking forward to that special Christmas dress, ilokhwe yekrismesi.

Then there are the weddings one attends over the festive season. This becomes a bit of a bunfight because most people tend to target the same dates in December — usually this coming weekend. So sifting through numerous invites and deciding which one to attend can be quite a task in managing social punctiliousness. One dare not offend.

It was easier in the olden days, I suppose, when one could pretty much stop over at any house hoisting a white flag at its gate, signifying that a wedding was taking place at that particular home. So that will be my little fix-it to wash away the ills of the year: nothing like a wedding to revive the spirits.