OK, here we go:  Christmas in Africa!

I've only ever had one Christmas outside South Africa, and that was '97 in London.  What a place to be for Christmas!  Because you know, England pretty much invented Christmas as we know it.  All the snow, the trees, the food, the lights, the cold, the eggnog. 

In South Africa, these traditions were all imported as the population grew in the 1800s, and so we find ourselves today in sub-tropical summer heat, up to our elbows in turkey, tinsel and Christmas pudding.  It's a surreal thing to watch my mom sweating it out over a hot stove in 90 degree heat, for the sake of a handed-down European tradition.  But we still do it anyway.  We love it.

Christmas in South Africa is like Christmas anywhere:   the roaring trade in Christmas trees, the annual city lights, the Christmas music in the malls, Santa on every corner (we call him Father Christmas; "Santa" must be his U.S. sidekick or something), the Christmas movies, bad Christmas TV (they always re- run Scrooge or something), too much food, too much dessert, leftovers that run through till the end of January, churches full on Christmas morning of people who never go otherwise, carol services in the park at midnight, four-piece choirs at the front gate (only they're singing English hymns in Zulu accents). 

The only difference is the summer sunshine and the heat.  I think we'll do Christmas on the beach this year.  Why?  Because we can!