Home People Personalities Christmas with our cover stars!

Christmas with our cover stars!

What a year 2020 has been! While extravagant holidays and international travels may not be on the cards this year, it is still a time for gathering with those nearest and dearest in celebration of the year gone by. In the spirit of the season, we asked a few of our 2020 cover stars to share their favourite festive memories and plans for this year!

Photo supplied

Bridget Marshall
Finalist in the second season of M-Net’s The Bachelor South Africa, and founder and CEO of Travel B

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Learning the truth about Santa Claus was probably one of the worst days of Bridget’s childhood.
“I was a lucky girl and I love getting prezzies (who doesn’t), so I loved every gift I got growing up. I was also so adamant that Santa was real and was devastated when my mum broke the news to me. It’s still my favourite time of year and I am usually floating on a Christmas cloud from 1 December until New Year. I have been fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Hong Kong and London, which were certainly among my favourites. My dream Christmas would be in a winter wonderland in Europe, being serenaded Christmas classics by Michael Bublé live! I throw a Christmas Party for my friends every year and everyone has to dress up and bring a secret Santa gift. I always wear the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer jumper I bought at a Christmas market in London – no matter the weather. This year, I am throwing my friends’ Christmas party at a wine farm in Cape Town and the theme is Candyland and Christmas Hats. I can’t wait! Christmas Day will be spent in Durban with my family and boyfriend, Kobus, with all the bells and whistles – snacks, champagne, turkey, ham, veggies, cranberry jelly, mince pies, chocolate Christmas balls from Woollies, Christmas pudding and crackers … and let’s not forget the gifts! I love watching my nephew’s face light up when he opens his prezzies from Santa. I am hoping for a puppy or a Range Rover (in case any of my loved ones are reading this)! Hey, a girl can dream! Covid-19 affected my life drastically in both positive and negative ways. I was retrenched, but finally got the courage to open my own business. I gained lockdown weight, which then made me focus on my body. I am now feeling a lot stronger. Another special moment this year was meeting Kobus, who treats me like a princess and makes me the happiest I have ever been. Being in lockdown made me appreciate the smaller things in life. We have so much we want to do next year so I can’t wait for 2021 to begin.”

Khurshid Guffar
Online Business English coach, freelance writer and mother of two

Christmas on the largest island in the Seychelles is what Khurshid dreams of! She once enjoyed her second babymoon there with her now three-year-old, Nurah, when she was pregnant with Zaina, who is now two. “As a child, I always loved surprises and to this day, the blue and yellow skate board I got from my grandparents when I was about five or six is lodged in my memory. They hid it behind a curtain and my sisters and I were sent on a treasure hunt around the house to find our gifts. It’s more the anticipation and element of surprise than the gift itself. Christmas has always been a special occasion for us, but I think my favourite so far is last year. My family synced calendars and we enjoyed a much-needed reunion over a few days in the Berg. We used the Elfster app to organise a ‘Secret Santa’ and my cousin even lugged a tree all the way there, which Nurah and Zaina decorated with glee. This year, I’ve asked Santa for to check me into a five star hotel alone so I can crawl under layers of crisp white linen and sleep, uninterrupted, all night. A day of pampering at a spa would be fab as well. We have been going to the Tree of Lights at the Botanic Gardens, which we all love and are looking forward to this year. When it comes to festive eats, I tend to indulge in more sweet treats than I should during the holidays! I have been doing 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every morning lately, and plan to continue this throughout the festive season so I don’t lose momentum – and feel less guilty when I reach for another chocolate brownie. This has been a really tough year for us all and while we won’t be venturing too far from home, I won’t give up on my ultimate dream of Christmas in the Seychelles. This would be the perfect setting for my family and friends to come together to celebrate the festive season and to ring in with hope, anticipation and a fighting spirit, 2021.”

 

Photo: Desiree Dales

Jane Allison
Floral designer, supplier and owner of Flourish Flower Studio

As a mother to three-year-old, Mille, Christmas is much more exciting and special now for Jane than it was when she was young. “The best gift I ever got was the porcelain dolls that my aunt made for me. I always wanted a Wendy House, but never got one, which has made my desire to get one for Mille so strong. Sadly, due to Covid, it won’t be this year, but I’m working on it! Christmas concerts were always a highlight for me as a little girl – my cousins and I would always put on a Christmas show whenever we were together. I love to host and we generally always have quite a crowd of family and close friends. The more the merrier! Ahead of Christmas we always choose our Christmas tree as a family from the Christmas Tree Farm in Gillitts, and then we decorate together while sipping on G&T and listening to carols. My favourite part of Christmas Day is setting the table – that’s always my job and I delegate the cooking! After an early start of present-opening we go to church, and then have some bubbly and mince pies followed by Christmas lunch, games, swimming and ending off on the couch watching a movie! Granny spends the night so I don’t have to wake up too early the next morning! This year will be very different for us with the pandemic preventing family visiting from the UK, so we will be spending it with our close family and friends at home”. Jane got married on New Year’s Eve nine years ago! “Every year as we say goodbye to the year gone by, we also celebrate our anniversary and give thanks for our daughter and the love we have for each other. Covid has had a huge impact on us as a family – my husband resigned at the beginning of March just before lockdown, so he was unemployed for a few months. Weddings and events were banned, so Flourish came to a grinding halt and schools were closed so I wasn’t able to do any puppet shows. Since then though, a friend and I have got together and opened a new store at the Mushroom Farm called Spence & Mae – a local brand hub which is going from strength to strength. Flourish is now based inside the brand hub store, and I’m excited for my first wedding in December because I’ll be doing wedding flowers again!”

Photo supplied

Gordon Reid
Founder and managing director at Get Hands On Events

Gordon liked trucks, dinky toys and 18-wheelers as a child and says the gift he always wanted, but never got, was a real truck. Although today he still doesn’t drive a truck, Gorgon is happy with his family at his side and is looking forward to a week in the Midlands and hopefully a little trip to Mozambique in the New Year, depending on what Covid has in store. “I learnt about Christmas pretty early on in life. I’m the youngest of three boys, so they ruined it for me. When it comes to Christmas movies, I’m pretty sure most kids could vouch for the first Home Alone being a favourite Christmas movie. It’s still popular today! My favourite festive tune is Feliz Navidad, purely because my niece, Tatum, used to sing it as ‘release all the doves’,” he laughs. Gordon’s favourite Christmas was in 2015. “We were all with my mum shortly before she passed away in a mansion in the English countryside. It was sad but incredibly special. These days we traditionally have very large family gatherings with my extended family. Christmas Eve is normally spent with close friends and Christmas Day is huge. We open presents with the kids, go to church and then the rest of the day is spent celebrating and indulging in good food and banter. We have lost an angel this year and my father-in-law two years ago just after Christmas, so being without loved ones and celebrating the lives of those who are no longer with us in the physical form is most important. New Year’s Eve will no doubt be a house party, but by no means forgetting this year. I will be praying that 2021 will be kind to us all. Covid destroyed my eventing business and 2020 has been a year for pivoting, learning new skills, networking, collaborating and self-advancement.”

Jodie Kroone
Inspirational T3 paraplegic and Marketing and Public Relations Specialist and Social Media Manager for the QuadPara Association of South Africa

Growing up on a farm, Jodie says she was really lucky to have enjoyed an active, outdoorsy life, and remembers her favourite present being a bright red quadbike at the age of 12. “I always got the interesting parts in school and church plays. One year I played Joseph. I guess it was a kind of ‘tallest kid in the grade’ problem. Believe it or not, my granny let it slip that Santa was not real. We had received a free calendar from the shop where my dad got our gifts, and she mistakenly mentioned that he got a good price for it. I stood there, jaw-dropped, but deep down I knew there was some conspiracy with this mysterious guy. Then Christmas became all about family, especially having a good time with my cousins. In 2013, with all our overseas family gathered, we youngsters decided to steal a few drinks and have our own little party. It’s a tradition that’s kind of just stuck, even though we are now legally allowed to drink. This year I think a relaxed, poolside Christmas is on order – on a lilo, with cocktail in hand and working on my tan. But I’ll definitely be switching between my family and that of my boyfriend, Joel, so that we can see and spoil everyone. I am really looking forward to being a bridesmaid at my best friend from high school’s wedding on 19 December. This will be a first since my accident. I’m honoured and really excited, so we’ll be organising, finalising and celebrating! I’m really lucky for New Year’s because my three best friends and I all live within a 4km radius – so this year we are ‘house hopping’. Each host will provide a starter, main or dessert, with the final stop being champagne to toast to the New Year! 2020 has been pretty rough trying to isolate from others and I’ve had constant FOMO because some haven’t taken Covid seriously. On a work level I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working from home and I feel driven by personal discipline which motivates me to take initiative and work harder. My role with QASA pre-Covid included a lot of public speaking, which I haven’t really had a chance to do, and hope that this will change in 2021!”

Photo: Sarah-Jane Photography

Margaret Hirsch
Inspiring connoisseur of home appliance retail and the Chief Operations Officer of Hirsch’s Home stores

From rags to riches, Margaret Hirsch still yearns, every Christmas, for the moment she catches her husband of 49 years, Allan, under the mistletoe! Christmas Day is always spent either at her house, or with her son or daughter because, she says, they are the best cooks! “We were very poor growing up, so every Christmas I got a new school satchel and school shoes. I can still smell the leather! I remember being in the back of a car driving home from a Christmas Eve party when I was about five and I swear I saw Father Christmas – but after that I realised it may have just been wishful thinking. I always wanted a puppy and that’s why I love having a dog today. His name is Gunner, named by my grandsons after their favourite soccer side, Arsenal. When it comes to festive traditions, we wake up early every Christmas morning, open our presents and then have breakfast which always includes chocolate! This year, Christmas will be spent at my daughter Luci’s house. She always puts on a really good spread and instead of asking Santa for any gifts this year, I decided I would buy myself a diamond pendant in the shape of Africa. The rest of the holidays and New Year’s Eve will be spent at our holiday home in Zanzibar, provided the flights open! I was supposed to take my grandsons to Disneyland this year, which was cancelled but, God willing, we will all go next year. The pandemic really messed up all our plans, but we are still alive and healthy so we have a lot to be grateful for. In 2021 I pray that Covid is a thing of the past and we can all get on with our lives in the ‘new normal’.

 

Photo: SuPPLIED/ Momentum gsport Awards

Zinhle Ndawonde
Airports Company South Africa firefighter and vice-captain of the Springbok Women’s Rugby team

As a tomboy, Zinhle’s best Christmas gift was of course her bike. “I played with my cousin a lot and always preferred the toys that boys had. As I got older, I got wiser when it came to Santa Claus – and couldn’t help noticing the adults buying gifts and hiding them, haha! That said, I still asked for my first phone (but never got it!). My dream gift today is a car! Any Christmas was a good Christmas, as long as we were all together, but the best were the ones that included my grandmothers when they were still alive. There were always lots of activities – we’d sing, act and dance – and I would always be on the dancing team. We’d go to church and then come back and have lunch together, which is what we’ll be doing again this year. Close to home, lots of family and home-cooked food and catching up on how each of us is doing. I’d like to think there will be a little music in the background and maybe my favourite Christmas song, Santa Baby by Taylor Swift. I usually have a food hangover after Christmas, so I tend to go for a run to detox. New Year’s Eve will be spent with close friends, and my resolutions are to stay injury free, because it’s a big year for us with the upcoming Rugby World Cup. I’ll be working hard to make the final squad – so I want to stay fit and healthy and take on 2021 in the best possible way!”

Photo: David Weeks Photographic

Zanele Kamwendo
Image Consultant, Mrs SA Photogenic 2020, EMM Top Model 2020, Brand Ambassador for Skin Renewal and Face of Mangwanani

A doll, Dr Martens and electric family gatherings are memories that Zanele holds dear when she looks back on past Christmases. “Christmas has always been priceless to me – from a fake Barbie Dolls (we couldn’t afford the real ones), which I loved and played with 24/7, to the trendy Dr Martens boots I wanted so badly but never got, nothing got me down, because I thrived on family get togethers more than anything else. We saw distant relatives and celebrated with the entire neighbourhood and there was an electric atmosphere of celebration. There was always a spread of traditional African cuisine and at lunchtime all the children would change into brand new Christmas outfits and go back to the street for the big reveal. Everyone looked and felt pretty and special. Then we’d open our gifts and play with them straight away! It might sound boring, but my ideal Christmas would pretty much be a reflection of this.” Zanele loves festive traditions and says her family ensures that Jesus Christ is at the centre of it all. “We always donate to Covenant Crisis Care Centre (our church’s care wing) for underprivileged families. Due to Covid this year we will enjoy a beautiful staycation with an intimate family gathering. New Year’s is usually a long dinner and we gather around the table reflecting on our year. Afterwards we attend a crossover service at church. Every year I set goals for each area of my life: spiritual well-being; health, wellness and nutrition; relationships; business; academic/intellectual; humanitarian and personal enjoyment. The pandemic opened up my eyes and re-arranged my priorities, leaving me with much to be grateful for. I’m hopeful that in 2021 I will resume my Image Workshops through Sparkle Image Consulting, empowering individuals and organisations to embrace their uniqueness and improve their perceived value by enhancing their personal and professional image.”

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