Incase you haven’t guessed.. I’m the one on the left!
As Christmas draws closer I’ve found myself reflecting on the last 4 years of Christmases. We have done some crazy travelling and have spent Christmas in 3 different countries in 4 years with this year being a real Zambian Christmas, with all the frills.
This will probably be our ‘quietest’ Christmas yet because we don’t have family around for the first time, except for a very early, pleasant visit from my mother in law. Christmas 4 years ago fell only 4 days after I had pushed a decent 3.2kg baby out, we had left Christmas tree shopping too late and so ended up with a rather sad looking Christmas tree, the type that has a very definite slant despite attempts to boost its self confidence, and I’ve never been great at Christmas tree decorations so that didn’t help the matter. But we were a little family of 3 and it was beautiful!
The Christmas of 2012 went by without much celebration, we had just moved to Ballito, South Africa and had my mom who had come to stay with us for a few months and my father in law who was visiting, and my mom in law down the road. We were just trying to get on our feet. The husband had a job at a prestigious (I might add!) country club and worked crazy, crazy hours and we were trying to get a catering company off the ground. We had just received our first job a few days before Christmas to cater for 14 holiday makers every day for 2 weeks and included in that was a full Christmas lunch for the whole lot of them. It so happened that the husband was also in the middle of a huge work function and couldn’t be home much, so, 11 month old baby strapped to my back, I cooked my arse off! I sweated, I screamed, I threw objects around, but I cooked and it wasn’t half bad! And then I cleaned, as we only had a part time maid.
One may wonder why I had to strap the baby to my back given we may have been short of hands that knew how to cook however, there were plenty of baby sitting hands to go round – I’ll tell you, shall I – the child would not go to ANYONE else. If anyone dared even look at her in a way that so suggested they may be harboring the slightest notion of taking her from me, she would scream her head off. It’s one of the few (many!) times I have seriously wondered if I have got this whole parenting thing completely wrong… Everything I read said give in, pick up, be attentive and you will reap the rewards of a calm toddler (obvs I wasn’t reading the “mainstream” crap which promotes the opposite). I can clearly remember looking into the face of my screaming toddler while dinner for 14 was half simmering/half burning in the background (and over every surface in the entire house) I felt like I had made a terrible mistake. Well 2 mistakes, accepting that catering job like I was superwoman, and embarking on the gentle parenting journey.
Once the nightmare (but great source of extra income for which I am incredibly grateful) that was that catering job was over and things calmed down, I was, and remain, grateful for the parenting choices I’ve made but they haven’t all been easy.
Christmas of 2013 was another one for the books, I had recently had a miscarriage and started a new, quite demanding job all at once and with dreams of doing catering in the background the husband and I decided to embark on the road of being market folk. So with the help of family we got a small, rather nice stand made and we signed up for a Sunday market that ran every week. This meant all our free time was spent shopping, costing and preparing for the market and then trying to hold down a job each each, be half decent parents and maintain some sort of relationship. I will be honest, I did not love it. I loved the fact that we spent all Sunday together and could laugh and talk and get on each other’s nerves to our hearts delight, and I got to eat burgers ’til they were coming out my ears, but the rest of it was just blah. I almost dreaded Sunday’s rolling by. We did have a Christmas tree that year though (hoorah!) and it was a pretty decent one – a fake one but whatevs. It came, it saw, it got decorated and I got to take pictures and post them all over everywhere to show the world we actually do make a Christmas effort… now and again.
Yes, this IS how I look when decorating the tree… except for the heels.. and the LBD and the super posh hairdo.. but otherwise its me to a tee!
And then there’s now…. Half of me can’t believe it’s only been a year because if I think back over the last year it feels like a few lifetimes have passed with the amount of stuff we’ve done and been through, but then it also feels like only yesterday I was decorating my beautiful, fake tree with the beaches of Ballito almost on my doorstep (well at least within view if you stood on your tiptoes on the patio and extended your imagination just a tad). Time is a strange thing.
And so it’s a Zambian Christmas for us and the first Christmas in a few years that I feel a sense of almost peace around me. Maybe it’s just the tortoise paced Zambian vibes, but whatever it is, after the mile a second lifestyle of Thailand and Johannesburg, I’m digging it. There’s no deadlines, no rushing, no panic.. I don’t think Zambians know the meaning of any of those words anyway. I can sit down and gaze through Pinterest for hours daydreaming of all the Christmas crafts Lily and I are going to make (and we’ve actually made a few believe it or not!!) and we can swim and go for walks and go on incredibly fun shopping trips (well, fun for me anyway!) and it’s just a sense of peace. I can breathe.
I am looking forward to seeing the new year in, in zambia and although I’m not one for resolutions, I will be looking into the new year with high hopes for more love, more time spent with family near and far, more health, lots more laughter and definitely an adventure or two!
I hope wherever you are this Christmas, it’s a good one!
… but your pockets heavy 😉