Happy New Year everybody! Sorry that it has been such a long time between posts. It has been a rather a hectic month, so let me explain.
For weeks I had been humming “Give me an African Christmas”, and dreaming about how we could do things uniquely here. The rains had started, the birds were flocking to our tree-filled garden (as were the insects, but let’s be positive), and I was hunting around town looking for African Christmas fabrics with which to make decorations. I had even prepared a Christmas playlist by the end of November.
Then December arrived. Suddenly we realised that the cottage was not even going to be close to finished at current work rates. Having already fired an entire gang of builders, we had to say goodbye to another (who ended up living on our property for two weeks), and found ourselves desperately trying to impress upon the new gang the utmost need for speed. Without that cottage, our guests would be sleeping in store rooms.
As the days crept by, and our stress levels crept up, the work rate remained a slow and steady pace. I suddenly realised I was trying to impress the concept of speed upon people to whom deadlines, and time, are a foreign idea. Suddenly, I was regretting my wish for an African Christmas.
A week out from D-Day, the cottage was still faaaarrr from ready. Temperatures were approaching 39 degrees Celsius, and Will discovered my first grey hair.
This was the state of affairs:
We finally finished the cottage the day before our guests arrived, which meant we were moving things in the day they got here. But hey, it was FINALLY LIVABLE!!!
Will’s freshly arrived parents were seconded out to the task of shifting stuff, and hardly saw us for the first few days of their stay while we tried to get organised. Because we were so distracted with the cottage, Will’s parents and uncles ended up sorting the main house for our Christmas Eve dinner at the newly restored family dining table. It was a lifesaver, and wouldn’t have happened without them. We were even treated to the strong, cool winds and lightening that signaled a coming rain storm – rainy season was upon us!
Christmas Day was a relaxed affair, with lots of leftover food, fresh bread from our new bread maker, and New Zealand chocolate on hand. David’s Christmas Cake, baked in NZ and brought on the 36 hour journey in a fruit bowl for protection, featured quite heavily too. Kepler got more toys than he knew what to do with, and the rest of us enjoyed watching him play.
From there, it was back to trying to finish off the little details in the cottage, like placing pictures on the walls, getting curtains up and hanging pot plants from the roof…all while trying to maintain a slightly festive atmosphere for the little man! In the meantime, Will’s parents kept water boiled and cooled, dishes washed while Faith was on holiday, and meals provided while I was approaching collapse.
At this point, with the huge deadline that had consumed me for a month finally over, and a massive, massive, massive year behind us, I crashed. I’d already fought and defeated a boil, impetigo and an almost-cold, but the tiredness got me. I just wanted to sleep allllll day. Also at this point, good old homesickness hit. I had been warned to watch out for it around the three month mark, but given that this is Africa a slightly late arrival (by one month) was to be expected.
Our primary break maker, Uncle James, headed home shortly after Christmas, having left Faith with strict instructions as to feeding the dogs (He’s a vet and prize-winning dog breeder). He also left me with keffir (pronounced VERY carefully in Africa), sourdough starter, and the bread maker to take care of.
This left us with Uncle Kiev, Oupa, and Will’s parents for the New Year.
And there you have it. My African Christmas. In every way my wish was granted. The stress of impending chaos, disaster averted by hours and then, somehow, the most magical, beautiful Christmas table is whipped together by one mother-in-law showcasing the mind-boggling beauty of Africa that makes you think maybe the grey hair is worth it after all.