The holiday season is upon us, and while some of us love close knit family gatherings in the comfort of home, others go all out to celebrate the year gone by. In the spirit of the season, we asked a few of our favourites to share their memories of Christmas’ past, their upcoming holiday adventures and what they look forward to in 2020.
Michelle Reddy, top contender on the first season M-Net’s reality dating series, The Bachelor SA
Christmas for Michelle is a time of year when effort gets an A plus. She’s a huge fan of cooking, baking and presenting beautiful meals to awaiting guests. As much as it is a regular practice throughout the year, going to church and giving thanks are also paramount to her festive and New Year celebrations.
“The best gift I ever got for Christmas as a kid was a puzzle set. Believe it or not, graphical puzzles topped Barbie dolls, although as I got older I hinted for a play station, but to date it hasn’t been received. This year, I’ve got a day bed and lots of books on my wish list. I love getting involved in special events, so at school I was always front and centre stage in annual Christmas plays, although they would never let me sing… LOL! Because of this, karaoke is often part of the festive fun on Christmas Day, which usually starts off with a morning in church with my family, followed by some cooking (we do most of the prep and baking on Christmas Eve) and then the feast begins.
My favourite Christmas was the year I hosted and prepared all my favourite dishes, and the most embarrassing one was when I accidentally added sugar to my salt shaker in a rushed moment, and served it to my guests who politely continued eating because we don’t believe in wasting food! With every meal comes a little bit of indulgence in champagne or wine, so a great hangover cure for me is fresh watermelon juice and leftover turkey meat on garlic bread topped with melted cheese. I’ve always loved the idea of a transitional white Christmas, and maybe one day I’ll find myself in the midst of one, but what’s really important to me is being with family. Some of my year-end holiday will be spent in Dubai, and New Year’s Eve will be spent in church. It’s become a personal and sacred tradition of mine, and it certainly has been impactful, as it has allowed for blessings in various forms.
My New Year’s resolution is to spend more time doing weird and adventurous things, to take more risks, never speak ill of others and always have respect and kindness for every individual along my path.”
Caitlyn de Beer, self-management coach and speaker
Caitlyn grew up in a home where tradition was everything, so she and her husband Hendrik thrive on passing this (and lots of new ones) on to their children.
‘Our festive traditions usually involve finding and setting up a real Christmas tree at home late November. We decorate the tree while carols are playing in the background, make a Christmas bed with our king sized mattress in the lounge, and we all sleep there that night, enjoying the lights and a Christmas movie. Every year we visit my in-laws in Cape Town, so we’ll be doing that, followed by our annual two to three weeks of beach bliss at our holiday home in Southbroom, where we’’ll also be celebrating the New Year.
‘My dad comes from a big family, so our biennial Christmases have always been a date to look forward to. With more than 40 immediate family members, most of whom are heavily extroverted, loud and bursting with energy, every biennial Christmas ends with loads of hysterical memories including one when the Christmas table caught alight. Some of my favourite Christmas celebrations have been spent at our holiday home.
‘We give our kids a gift each to open (Christmas PJ’s) which they put on after their bath. We then enjoy canapés and a sundowner, followed by carols on the deck overlooking the sea before moving inside to a long table beautifully decorated with fairy lights and candles, where we pull crackers, throw streamers, drink good wine, sing family songs (yes, we’ve even got those), and dig into a delicious three-course Christmas Eve meal. We then put out a beer and Marie Biscuits for Father Christmas and carrots for his reindeers, and hop into bed by 11pm so we can wake before the sun on Christmas Day to see what Father Christmas has brought for our kids.
‘We try to fit in some quiet time as a family, to reflect on the real meaning behind Christmas, and when I have a moment to myself, I like to sit on the beach and reflect on the past year and ask God for a word for the year ahead. This past year’s word was ‘restoration’ and wow, was this powerful.’
Photo by: Tink Photography
Zakeeya Patel, actress, presenter and producer, best known for her roles in Isidingo; the movie, Material; the award-winning South African series The Wild and High Rollers.
Waving goodbye to South Africa as she heads to Los Angeles this month to conquer the American entertainment industry, Zakeeya is looking forward to a future filled with traditional white Christmases.
“The festive season has always been memorable for me, from Christmas with my in-laws where the dining room table caught alight, to pool volleyball and crab curry at my sister’s home in Johannesburg. Christmas on my uncle’s estate was a pretty special occasion. I was about six and we had all the cousins and family from near and far, which was a massive gathering as there are 10 siblings on my mom’s side alone. My favourite Christmas present as a child was a Barbie Jacuzzi that actually worked! I mean how spoilt, but I remember one Christmas in Cape Town with all my family, including those from overseas, where my cousin got an awesome sports watch and I got a plastic tea set. I was moments away from convincing her how cool my tea set was and that she obviously wanted to swap with me, when my sister piped up and told her what an amazing gift she’d got. Needless to say, I didn’t get the watch. This year, I’ve asked Santa for a plane ticket to Mexico. I don’t hold back! At school I was always involved in Christmas plays… an angel, a fabulously dressed and funny shepherd… I stole the show from Baby Jesus! I love listening to Eartha Kitt’s version of Santa Baby over the festive season, and is was always a tradition to watch Dirty Dancing in our close knit gatherings, until the tape wore out of course. Given that this will be our first Christmas in LA, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an intimate affair with my hubby and a few stragglers in the City of Angels, but my ideal Christmas would be spent in a spacious rooftop apartment in New York with massive windows so we could all watch the snow and colourful Christmas lights. The South African duo “Acoustic Element” would be jamming all the best festive tunes, and of course there would have to be Amarula, Biryani and mince pies! The biggest hangovers I get over Christmas are sugar hang overs. I have been known to suffer from incredible melt downs on occasion from indulging in too many mince pies, so I make sure to drink loads of water all day, throughout the season, to flush out whatever toxins I’m consuming. If there were anyone, other than my gorgeous husband, who I could meet under the mistletoe, it’d be my Granny… for a giant hug and a kiss. I know she’ll be missing us greatly this year, all the way on the other side of the world.”
PHOTO BY: Fayros Jaffer @fayrosjaffer_creative
Vernon Kloppers, our super-skilled, multi-tasking, skydiving Father’s Day cover dad
From the feel-good melody of Silent Night and the loony laughter of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to recurring dreams of a splendid and special white Christmas, Vernon’s ultimate Christmas always involves family.
“No Christmas is complete without those nearest and dearest. We enjoy the day with all the usual traditions like waking up to presents under the tree, before gathering as a family and sharing a proper feast at lunch time. Of course we all tend to overdo it a little, with food and drinks, so we’re never short of Cream Soda in the fridge. Ice cold after a good sleep and lots of fresh air, it’s the best cure after a day of over- indulgence. While I enjoy any Christmas spent locally in great company, I do dream of spending Christmas, with the whole family, somewhere beautiful where it snows. I can just imagine the fun that will be had by all. As a kid, I always wanted a motorbike… I never quite got that, but I settled for my favourite gift which was a BMX. As an adult, my Christmas wish list is less materialistic and more about the wellbeing of those I am in charge of. A kiss under the mistletoe from my fiancé, Karen, and a year ahead filled with lots of safe fun, lots of happiness and lots of good health for my family and friends, is all I really want.”
Photo by: Michelle Venter RavenFireSA Photography
Natalie Rungan, local singer songwriter
While the year-end holiday season usually means a dose of R & R for most of us, for Natalie, a sought after local performer, this is when she’s busiest.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever gone away for the holidays, but I’m old school when it comes to Christmas anyway, so I’m content being at home and listening to music from my very extensive Christmas CD collection. We’ll go to church, exchange gifts, and enjoy a family lunch. I don’t have a particular Christmas that stands out, but my most treasured is the last one when my dad was still around. He always made Christmas a huge event.
‘I’m a huge believer in festive traditions, and mine involve buying a lot of gifts and baking. I bake for about a week, and then I distribute to family and friends.It’s the one gift I invest most of myself in because I’m big on the sentimental stuff. I found out that Father Christmas wasn’t real pretty early on in the game when I caught mum and dad putting the gifts under the tree, but I understood the joy it brought them to be a part of something that made us all feel good. I was brought up in church, so the true meaning of Christmas was always about giving in my family. The best gift I got as a kid was a Cabbage Patch Doll. Mum and dad always did their best for us so this was a precious gift from them. She had woolly hair, was cuddly and I loved her. I think I might still have her. She left a lasting impression on me, just like my husband, Bruce Baker, who gets my vote for a kiss under the mistletoe!
‘New Year’s Eve will no doubt be spent working alongside Bruce. We usually get booked to play a gig somewhere really cool, which is something I look forward to…being able to see the New Year in with him and others who have come to join in on the celebrations. I don’t have resolutions, but I have goals, and during 2020 I’m hoping to make considerable progress with my research. I’m creative in many ways, so I keep taking on new projects. I need to focus on the research to make it count. I plan to continue to develop and build young people through my passion for music – the launch of the first KZN Schools Jazz and Rock Festival is going to be prodigious.’
Sue Jardim, a leading member of the cast of Dance2Dance International’s For the Love of Dance 2019.
With big dreams for dance champs and an italian trip on her bucket list, Sue wears a wide smile thinking of the Christmas holidays and the year ahead.
‘I’ve asked Santa for a Porsche 911 this year, but I’m not sure if I’ve been good enough! LOL! Hey, they say if you don’t believe, you don’t receive! That belief is still there, even though I never ever got the Cocker Spaniel puppy I asked for every Christmas. As a kid, I loved putting up the decorations. It got me into the spirit and excited, especially when my entire family got together. Over time though, the festivities have become smaller, and mostly involve immediate families.’
‘We usually put up our tree, lights and decorations 10 days before Christmas, and take everything down 10 days after. Christmas Eve is spent at my husband, Hugo’s parent’s home. Santa always pays my in-laws a visit after dinner around 10pm when we are watching a Christmas movie. He bolts through the front door and makes a hectic noise when he leaves. The kids run through to see what happened and find a pile of presents under the tree. They love it! My in-laws always put on a huge spread and decorate the house and table beautifully. They make it feel really special. Being Portuguese, Bacalau is their traditional fish dish for Christmas Eve. This is also always done for our Christmas day lunch or dinner, along with other traditional dishes. On Christmas Day, my kids wake up to presents under the tree, and we usually spend the day at my aunt and uncle’s, along with my parents, where they put on a full spread too – so, two indulgent days of pure stuffing the face! The pudding is always the best, my favourite being Malva pudding and custard.
‘New Year’s will be spent at our farm in the Dargle area, with friends and family, before we head up to the Kruger. My goal for the year ahead is to win the SA Latin American Dance Champs, and not to give up on my dream of a snow white Christmas in Italy with my family. Who knows, maybe it’ll happen!’