A few days ago we went for a drive on a seaside road while on holiday in the Western Cape.
“These are my favourite days,” our son, Michael, said.
I asked why and his explanation made sense. I actually realised that he put into words how I always felt. It was the day after Christmas and the frenzy was over.
Michael’s argument was that people get quite crazy during the weeks before Christmas and on the day after they calm down and just chill until new year’s eve at least. I realised that he was right, because between 2 January and 25 December each year the world is a crazy place.
In our country, school starts again early or mid-January, depending on which province you live in and those who are lucky enough to have had leave from work, has to go back to their jobs. And the stress starts building and get more and people start dreaming about that end-of-the year holiday again. And when the holiday comes, families fall prey to the frenzy of buying gifts they can’t afford, because they are following a man-made tradition (yea, actually Jesus had never been the “reason for the season” and Christ had never been “in Christmas”. Go Bible it – or Google it if you don’t believe the Bible…)
Anyway, suddenly, when the Christmas wrappings are in the bin and the food is eaten and the family feuds had reached their climax, it is the morning after – 26 December. The day on which the world (according to our country’s rhythm at least) calms down for just a little while. It seems that for the next six days people start relaxing – really relaxing. They care less about little unimportant differences (except in my family, it seems), they enjoy life a bit more deliberately, they look around to (literally) smell the roses, they actually see the little children’s footprints lining the beach, they watch the seagull fighting the South Easter, they recline on a couch to read a book or watch the cricket or a movie and they sit on benches and stare at the large, living ocean, dreaming new dreams, making new plans and resolutions. Or, if they don’t have leave from work and are doing the ‘garden route’ (as we call staying at home and doing work around the house in South Africa), they take the time to braai (barbeque) on a week evening or they sit on their camping chairs in the drive-way or on the stoep and watch the neighbours spending their days of calm. But whatever people here do, they take things easier. They enjoy just being.
It may just be the best time of year to finally negotiate ‘world peace’, I actually thought for a moment. But that was until I turned on the TV news, only to see the fighting in Syria continuing, bombs exploding in Iraq, differences dividing the Sudans again, etc. Oh well, maybe in a world without people it would have been possible.
c 2013 Riëtte De Kock