Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas in Summer

This will be my first Christmas as a fellow blogger.  
Little cherub in the greenhouse.

Almost everyone whose blog I follow has been busily preparing her home for Christmas.  I've seen lovely festive wreaths, beautiful little cardboard village montages, mantlepiece displays of much loved, vintage and other collected ornaments, Santa paintings, prettily decorated Christmas trees, brass wise men, homemade handstitched Christmas decorations, well-loved children's handmade decorations, Christmas baked goods and so forth.  In addition, I've been treated to the most exquisite photographic snowy and frosty scenes and have been introduced to the intricate works of art created by hoar frosts as well as other scenes of twinkly Christmas lights and falling snow and it has been a truly wonderful experience sharing all of this with each of you.  So, THANK YOU!  
Please click on the read more button below to continue...

Penstemons in the garden provide bell-shaped flowers for Christmas.

I live in South Africa where we have summer at this time of the year, as you all know.  So, your Christmases are very much more traditional and of the kind I grew up knowing through stories and pictures alone.  Our Christmases are always HOT.  At times, we literally overheat.  So, we don't "do" all the elaborate, intricate decorations and huge turkey dinners, unless we choose to celebrate on Christmas Eve, when everyone hopes for a bearable evening.  

Our Christmases are generally a lot "tamer."   We put up trees and decorate them, hang some pretty lights, buy Christmas crackers, set the table prettily and so forth, but don't do nearly as much decorating as those of you who live in the Northern hemisphere do.

In my own home this is possibly even more so, as both of our children celebrate their birthdays in December. Only once their birthdays are over, do we start to think about Christmas.  Traditionally, we'd pick and decorate our tree the day after our son's birthday.  Now that they're young adults, we have simmered down even more.  I think this is largely a mild form of protest against the hugely commercialised side of Christmas, but we do always ensure we're together as a family and that we have a special meal, and our fairy lights are put up in the garden, as we tend to gravitate outdoors to enjoy al fresco meals on most evenings at this time of the year.

More Christmas colours to be found in the garden from my bromeliads.

Last year was the first time we did not put up a tree of any sort.  When our children were young, we always had a real tree, not too large, but always a nice size.  Over the years, we opted to buy a potted tree and use that each Christmas until it got too big to carry indoors comfortably.  Next up, we had a small, table top artificial tree.  My daughter is keen to rekindle that side of things this year, although my husband and son say they'd really rather we didn't.  As we no longer have any decorations (I gave them all away), I wonder who'll win out on this one ;) 

Red floribundas for Christmas colour.
We also did away with swapping gifts amongst ourselves last year.  We live in a country where so many people are living below the breadline, and so we have always contributed little gifts to be given to those in need.  It provided a good opportunity for a lesson in sharing and learning to be compassionate and caring for our own children.

This year, my daughter and I also enjoyed participating in the South African Santa Shoebox Project.  Each participant elects to buy gifts to fill shoeboxes for a self-nominated number of underprivileged children.  It's such an enjoyable activity, as not only do you select and buy all the small gifts to be added to your box, you are required to cover and decorate each box for the recipient child to have as a keepsake, as well.  We filled ours with toiletry items, clothing, toys, sweets and educational goodies.  It's surprising how much can be fitted into a large shoebox!  And, all the while, you are thinking of the child/children for whom you're making up the surprise.  That, to us, is a very special part of what Christmas should be all about.

We also like to deliver a box of treats and essential groceries to a family we personally identify.  This is not hard to do in South Africa, as we have large numbers of informal settlements, or "squatter camps," on the outskirts of most urban areas.  I know of a number of families who like to do similar things at Christmas time.

So, in essence, what this all means is that you won't be seeing any Christmas decorations and festive displays on these pages - well, certainly not in the traditional sense.  I, however, will continue to enjoy the magic you've been sharing on your pages, knowing that during the cold, bleak months creating warm, glowing, decorative interiors and preparing delicious hot meals is absolutely essential to the Northern hemisphere experience of Yuletide!

Decorative leaves providing Christmas colour in the greenhouse.

Enjoy all your planning and preparation for Christmas, but do give thought to those less fortunate than yourselves.


  1. Hello...happy day tomorrow darling..beautiful post !!!.....i enjoy Ria...

  2. Kudos to you for doing the Shoebox Project! Our Christmas celebration is much smaller too, now that our son is grown and married and living on the other side of the country. I do still send presents to all the little ones in my family back East, but I don't expect anything back. And my husband would protest mightily if I stopped cooking a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings.

    I've always wondered what it's like celebrating Christmas in the Southern hemisphere, in the heat of summer.

    One of my favorite charities is the Fistula Foundation, I'll probably send them a donation this year.

  3. Ria:

    Thank you for your delightful comment and wishes. Been thinking of you quite a lot and hoping your Mother is recovering steadily.

    Big hug xo

  4. Alison:

    Don't get me wrong - I'd also LOVE the traditional meal and all the yummy trimmings - but it's simply too, too hot to do it in our climate.

    Big hug xo

  5. Smashing blog and your photos are better than mine!Will be interested to see how you do. blogging can take over at times, I limit myself to every five or six days. Good luck.

  6. Love your blog name ;) hope you're not really so grumpy, though?

    Do I take your comment in regard to my photos as a compliment or not? I'll need to check yours out and do a comparison! If they're disastrous, I guess I'll leave feeling somewhat mortified ;)

    So glad to know you enjoyed visiting my blog - as a newbie, it thrills me to bits each time I see a new visitor has dropped in! And, you're my first male guest! Yippee!

  7. Happy birthday to both your son and daughter.

    We have the shoebox project over here too. My children did one each for many years as they were growing up. As you say, it's amazing how much a large shoebox will hold.

    These days, we sponsor two children through Compassion UK, which is a year round comittment, but includes a present at Christmas.

    Al fresco eating sounds delightful just at the moment!! I wish..!!

  8. Thank you, H :)

    WONDERFUL what you, as a family, have done and are doing, charity-wise!

    Big hug! xo

  9. Hi there,

    I think you have missed ur calling as a photographer! Ur pics are lovely!

    x :-) Tracy

  10. Hi Tracy :)

    How very sweet of you to flatter me so! There are some absolutely unbelievably talented photographers out there - I wouldn't have a hope of competing with them, but very happy to know you liked my attempts.

    Thank you for popping by! xo

  11. Hi Desiree,

    Just in case you are still curious, I've finally posted an answer to the grand (LOL) mystery of the clocks on the tower. If you want to look, it's here

    H :)

  12. Thank you, H! On my way over right now to check it out ;)

  13. Hi Desiree, thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and your lovely comments:)I enjoyed this post so much, we too have the hot Xmas, each year we get a little closer to a great compromise between the full trad. and expiring in the humidity...lovely comments on the true meaning of Xmas:)
    PS my dream is a fully homemade Xmas, gifts, dinner, the works, will keep you posted...!

  14. Thanks for popping by at my blog. The reason for the post about classic books was simply to find out what other people viewed as a classic, not interested in critics or their critiques, I prefer to get recommendations from fellow bibliophiles. And the thought occurred to me that books once thought of as classics might differ from what today might be called a classic... could Harry Potter become a classic children's story? But thanks for your input. I DO read what I like, but also like to broaden my horizons and think it good to try something new.

  15. Hi Plum Kitchen!

    Lovely to have you pop by. Will be interested to hear how far you manage to succeed with your plan to do it all homemade this year ;) that's a great idea, but I'm all for easy peasy in this heat!

  16. Hi Maggie!

    Yes, I certainly realised your intention - definitely wasn't suggesting anything otherwise. My comments were only intended as a general observation, not in anyway directed specifically at you ;)

    I had already picked up from reading your blog that you're very much a free spirited, independent thinker and I know you were just throwing some thoughts out there to generate some discussion or debate.

    Hope you're having fun with selecting new reading material to keep you happily entertained over the holiday season.

  17. I really enjoyed learning about how you celebrate your Christmas. I was actually just telling my oldest daughter about your blog and that it's summer where you are now. She asked about what Christmas would be like there, now I can tell her.
    I think a lot of people forget what Christmas is all about, and that giving to people in need is much more rewarding than getting a bunch of stuff we probably don't really need.
    We just give gifts to the little kids in our family and the adults enjoy spending time together and watching the little ones have fun.

  18. Isn't it wonderful seeing how others live, Desiree? Like you, I am fascinated with what I find in these blogs..not to mention the kindest of people. Warm, helpful and caring.

    This is my second year of blogging...and as of a few days ago, I began my third.
    Problem is... it's so addicting. Better than a beautiful magazine. :)

  19. Welcome Mona!

    Wow, I see you've been VERY busy viewing my blog - and going to be keeping me busy typing replies to each of your charming messages!!!



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