A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.

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