“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us” – Terri Marshall
Christmas reminds me of togetherness, celebrations, stars, lots of chocolate , Christmas movies, handmade Christmas cards, local Christmas markets, Christmas music, lots of lights and making memories.
When I think of Christmas I think of my childhood memories…It was magical. I spent it in wilderness, South-Africa at my grandparents cozy wooden house that looked out on a lagoon and so it was summer time. I still would love to experience a white Christmas, must be really freezing, I just can imagine but then you could warm up with hot chocolate around a fire, dressed in warm winter clothes, look at the Christmas lights outside, I think its just a different atmosphere. I hope I can experience some day.
I remember that as a child I had a small handmade calendar that was next to my bed in my diary and I would cross every day off till mom said okay lets get the car packed, we are going to visit grandma Cecile and grandpa Johan in Wilderness, South-Africa. Some of my classmates always asked don’t you get bored to go every year to the same place, my response always was the same: no because its special and its not about the place its about making memories with my grandparents and the rest of the family. That was the best memories ever. My dad never went with us or maybe there was once or twice but he is a farmer so Christmas was a really busy time for farmers but that’s okay. On Christmas eve we always called him to wish him a merry Christmas, sometimes you can’t always have what your heart really wish for, you just got to look at the bright side.
So the tree would be up, it was just a small green tree but my grandparents gave us the task to decorate it, that was always my favorite part and then we made each other Christmas cards. Us I mean me, my siblings and some years my cousins would be there too. My grandpa would decorate the outside of the house in sparkling Christmas lights. So every family has its own traditions but here is mine: So Christmas eve we would set the table around this beautiful wooden table with placemats, red serviettes, handpicked flowers from the garden and candles, my grandma always used to say its about the ambiance and you have to make a statement and till today I love having dinner with candle light. My family never took really many pictures when we were little, I guess technology wasn’t a thing back then you know what I mean? Well I have plenty of memories and that is also enough.
So my grandparents lived in Wilderness, South-Africa, its really an extraordinary place and they looked out on a lagoon, the one year my uncle, Jan was Santa Clause and he came with a rowing boat, he made up a language but it was so funny, I had so much fun. Then in the garden we would have our own little Christmas play. Celia, my older sister was always in charge so we would sing Christmas songs and then my brother was always ‘joseph’ as there were no other boys that could play this role till we got older and he got tired to be Joseph..Haha 🙂 Still it was great memories that I will never forget.
So after the Christmas play we would enjoy a meal, nothing traditional just a good meal with some cookies/dessert after that and then with coffee and chocolate we would open the gifts. I never liked Christmas pudding/ fruit cake 🙂 We were never big on Christmas gifts as I believe its not about the gifts so we would always get something small, its just the idea, it was mostly chocolate, earrings, book, diaries, ect. Nothing fancy but it was always something that we could use. My grandparents told me the best things in life is not what is wrapped in a gift box but its the things that you can’t wrap like the people around the tree, the laughter, the stars, the memories that you make and to be thankful for sharing that very moment and just to ‘live in the moment’.
Then we didn’t do this every year but some years my grandma gave us tea candles and we would light it up and make a wish and put on the lagoon so it can float in the water. I’ve stopped with that tradition for a while but this year I feel different, I feel I should start that tradition again, why not? Lighting a candle on Christmas eve and make a wish.
Then on Christmas day itself we would go to church as we believe Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. For me Christmas is a time to love, to give, its the season for miracles, its a time to reflect on everything that has happened this year or you can create new traditions. I know Christmas can be lonely and sad sometimes as maybe you miss loved ones that is not here on earth anymore or maybe Christmas isn’t such a happy time for everyone, maybe there is people out there that have to spend it in hospital or maybe some people don’t have a family or a home to go to. My grandparents isn’t alive anymore but they will always live in my heart and today I am going to pray for everyone in the world so I can send positive vibes around the world.
As I grew older I started not to be so fond of Christmas anymore, in fact I actually hated it as I worked most years over Christmas and people are extra difficult at over this times and I just never really felt festive anymore, maybe something was missing. I used to work in hospitality and it was a really busy time, I mean you would work 14 hours + at times, it wasn’t’ all bad, I just made other families happy over Christmas and I didn’t feel the need to celebrate it or play Christmas music just to feel the ‘spirit’ and people that never worked over Christmas will never understand that feeling. You are just simply too tired to celebrate.
This year is the first time in probably 9-10 years that I am not working on Christmas as I’ve changed my career about 17 months ago, now I am an English teacher in Mahachai, Thailand even though Thailand celebrate Christmas but they don’t believe in it, this year I feel different, I am not with my family but I am not working and i’m working at a Christian school and last week we had a whole week of Christmas celebrations, the kids they brought the spirit back. I think its the season of miracles after all.
So what would you like for Christmas? I never made a wish list gifts for Christmas but I think if I had one your list is long when you are a child and then you realize the most valuable things that you want on that list can’t be wrap. If there is one thing I want for Christmas I would say I wish for more love in this world. I have a wish for myself for this year but I can’t tell 🙂
Some Christmas memories, mostly I’ve spent it in Wilderness in my childhood, there was 2 years I think it was at home on a farm where I grew up and then there was this one year I’ve spent it in Sydney.
Actually, if I reflect on this year I had a pretty awesome year, there were some downfalls but we got through it. I went to visit my home country in March, my cousin got married in my favorite part of South-Africa, Midlands. I’ve moved to a new town, started working at a new school, my brother got engaged, my mom came to visit me in Thailand so we did 10 days of traveling (amazing)! I did my first 10 km race, I’ve started with learning French, I have joined a gym and I’ve made the most amazing friends. Well there is plenty more but these were really highlights of this year. A change is all I needed and I got what I wanted and I am extremely happy and I am so excited for 2019.
I might be away from my family but they are in my thoughts wherever I go 🙂
So if you have special childhood / recent memories or traditions please do share, I would love to hear from you.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a great 2019 that will be filled with love, laughter and lots of memories. Merry Christmas all the way from Thailand 🙂
Hi there! My name is Ané du Preez and I am from South-Africa but currently teach and live in Thailand. I am a writer and a solo traveler. I love learning about other cultures and traditions. My interest started when I was only a child and my grandparents shared their travel stories through pictures, stories, and writing. This blog is to share my wonderful adventures with all of you. I’ve been discovering the gems of mother nature and its amazing people. Join me as we venture into the beauty and inspiration that is all around us. I am an advocate for all to live their life to the fullest. To travel is to live!