Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Xmas in July

Xmas in July
8 August 2012

If you come from a rather large family and you really enjoying spending time together, it’s amazing what excuses you’ll come up with in order to facilitate a “little” family get together.  Not that we actually need one, mind you.  We’ve been known to whip up a gathering in very short time, with very little provocation.  But probably by far, one of our best moments was our “Xmas-in-July” excuse.  Now let me first point out that my Grantie comes from a very, very small family.  So, even after 22 years, he still finds these occasions quite daunting and overwhelming.  An extremely large gathering for the Cloete family comprises of fourteen people and encompasses four generations.  Just the closest Lombards alone are forty people.  That’s not even counting great-aunts and 2nd cousins and they normally join us as well.  We’re talking just the basic intimate family and then it’s also only a ‘mere’ forty, because some family members are overseas or in Gauteng.  So can you imagine a complete Lombard influx?  My Grantie needs therapy and calming tablets in advance.

So we came up with a marvellous idea.  What about Xmas in July?  Well, why not, and it ended up being  a grand affair.  We all traipsed through to Tulbagh, which is where my mom lives.  We call her and my stepdad’s house, Muisnes.  This is because one fine day while my mom and my stepdad were still “dating” they went for a drive in the country side, saw a lovely little house, peered through the windows, fell in love with it and bought it.  So basically as the Afrikaans saying goes, “they had Muisneste”, which roughly translated means that they were so in love, only had eyes for each other and were floating on a pink love cloud.  They just went on pure gut and acted impulsively.  How fantastic! 

We all simply love Muisnes.  It is filled with interesting little nooks and crannies and treasures galore – old style movie theatre seats in the one lounge, 8 Pinball machines, a dartboard, a Jukebox, board games and puzzles by the gazillions, a whole dress-up room for the kids (and us adults), filled to the brim with all sorts of clothes, shoes, hats, gloves, glasses and bags, you name it.  There is permanently a drum kit set-up as well as a microphone for the kids to play with, not to mention the odd guitar and harmonica.  A table tennis table and a pool table, a swimming pool, big garden, Mulberry tree, and so the list goes on.  The kids play tennis, cricket, hockey and golf in the garden and we have a lovely Muisnes invention called “egg-tennis”.  For “egg-tennis” my mom spends months making little holes in the top and bottom of every egg she ever needs for cooking (eggs have to be scrambled at Muisnes, because my mom needs the shells), she then blows the egg white and yolk out, rinses the egg out and the complete intact eggshell goes into a whole big basket of eggshells.  And then when the kids go and visit, we go and play egg-tennis in the road.  Everyone grabs a tennis or squash racket.  My mom stands with two big baskets, filled to the brim with eggshells and she then throws them at the kids, and the object of the game is to whack the eggshell into oblivion.  Naturally there’s always a few “live” eggs in the mix, and those get dispensed randomly to unsuspecting victims.  Resulting in being covered in raw egg.  Eeeuuuww!  The kids absolutely love it and many a friend has also had to run the gauntlet of egg-tennis. 

We all love Christmas, so the thought of fitting an extra Christmas into the year held serious appeal.  My mom hauled out all of her Xmas decorations, and believe you me she has lots.  She puts about 9 Christmas trees up every year, each with different themes, and therefore the house looked truly festive.  Her fairy lights stay up all year long and she puts them on every single night.  We joined as many tables together as they had, carried in chairs from all over and made one long huge Christmas table.  We had the whole traditional Xmas meal – roast chickens, roast legs of lamb, gammons, and all the accompanying trimmings.  Crackers on the table, champagne glasses, best cutlery and crockery, the works.  We all cleaned up pretty good and decided to have an impromptu theme to the evening, which was hats.  We rummaged upstairs in the dress-up room and the variety of hats were incredible.  From hillbilly farmer hats, to German style soldier hats, berets, the lot.  Even wigs!  At one point we even skyped the Awesome Aulds in London, and not be left out, they also donned hats for our video chat.

The only rule, was that there was to be no gifts.  This was simply Xmas for fun.  And just because of that, it was remarkably stress free and way easier on the pocket than the average December Xmas.  It was truly strange having a freezing cold Xmas, as it’s normally boiling hot.  And we all had a whale of a time.  There was much playing of guitar and relaxing, hitting of drums, singing, eating, laughing, card playing, table tennis tournaments and general festive silliness.  All in all it was utterly charming and magically perfect.  What an amazing family I have?  I sure hit the jackpot.  Lucky, lucky me!  

The lovely Nicole

Beautiful Bettie

Marvellous Maggie

Gareth the Great

All together now - "Aaahhh!"

Ahoy there, Christiaan!

Ja, well no fine. At least Luke will be fine in the case of a Nuclear threat.

Captain Jacques Sparrow

Ouma Helene and Aunty Noo

Oupa Willem

Our beloved Charmaine, whom we call 'Charming'

Our Myta - second mother to all and much loved

Jan from Dan - she's very camera shy, so I was really lucky to get a pic of her

Willem taking the hat-wearing to the next level - the lampshade

Dan busy hamming it up

Katarina having a bad hair day

Wacky Alex - one of a kind

All righty then, Jaco!

Elegant Elaine

Ahoy there me maties, Captain Adam

Le chic Roxy

The Big Five


Stunning, stunning Bettie - spot Willem's "hat" in the background

Colekie Molekie

Hillbilly Jacques

Grant joining in the fun

A wee bit of band practice

Amber rocking out - note the earphones are not plugged in

Alex - need I say more

Amber with a very interesting ensemble

My Amber-Berry - there are no words



  1. Flippen AWESOME my sista!! You hit the nail on the head...I couldn't have explained it more perfectly and in better detail, and a fellow lover of intense detail..the detail is the best. I was reading feeling super proud and thinking 'wow, I would LOVE to be in that mad, fun, eccentric, unique special big family.' And then even better, realised 'I am!!' Lucky all of us! xxxxx

    ps. Thanks for a warm loving bed time story..just what I felt like! x

  2. Yello kids, that was a very special Christmas in July with the Bertolanis here - but still no Albert or Katrine. I am very happy that they at least got to see what they were missing! A little bit of everyone's personality comes out in the hats! I love that you keep adding more pics Helene! Keeps me going back.