My Dysfunctional Family Christmas
- 11/ 1/ 2007 <--Prev : Next-->
My Dysfunctional Family Christmas.
Uncle Dave's T shirt, as he waved us all goodbye at
the airport, read "I survived my dysfunctional family
at Christmas !"
He did survive ..... but it was touch and go..... You
try putting three dilly Zimbabwean blonds, one lovely
Kazakhstan, one Shane Warne supporter, and one long
suffering father, all together in one house for three
weeks with one errant Republican brother in law !!
Our children had inadvertently made a rule when the
left home entitled the "three thousand mile rule"
Understandably this rule enforces a pretty wide
distance between offspring and parents !!
But rules are meant to be broken and our large and
growing family tries by all means possible, to be
together for at least every other Christmas.
Bulawayo has always been home, and most Christmases
have been traditionally spent in Bulawayo where the
weather is still and sultry, where there is absolutely
no sign within a thousand miles of anything resembling
snow and a "White" Christmas, and the swimming pool
is usually the focal point of activities. !!
We always try and do the traditional thing, gifts
opened early under the Christmas tree combined with
mince pies, Christmas cake and walnuts, brazil nuts,
pecan nuts all to be wrestled with, via an antique
nutcracker, accompanied by copious cups of Tanganda
Much later we cook up a giant meal which is totally
unsuitable to the tropics, but is a legacy of our
British up bringing !
Roast turkey, glazed ham covered in pineapple and
cherries, roast potatoes and four veg, followed by ice
cream and a Downings Christmas pudding.
The latter is stuffed with little silver charms.
(remember the horse shoe, the tiny slipper, the piggy
amongst others) and of coursea couple of sterilised
silver coins carefully kept from the days in which we
had coins in Zimbabwe....!!
On the last family gathering two years ago, we decided
on Bulawayo as a communal meeting place, and a slight
setback in plans brought about a nine hour sojourn at
the Plumtree border post...... which made sure that
this year we chose an easier rendezvous point, and
once again we chose Texas !!
Texas is the country of superlatives so it is easy (if
pricey)to keep the family amused here. Ice Hockey, the
rodeo, Billy Bobs, many trips to the various malls and
many festive Mexican margarita meals made up a happy
twenty one days.
We have many precious Christmas family traditions, one
of which is armchair sportsmanship, but over the years
it has become necessary to install a demilitarised
zone between the opposing sports teams at the dining
Much friendly bantering and "chirping" ensues between
those folk affiliated to the Boks and those who have
found it necessary to support certain other inferior
teams like the Wallabies for example !!
An obligatory "after turkey cricket game" is usually
played, but as the Texas temperature was minus
something, we decided to stay indoors and watch the
Cowboys game instead.
It was a delicate and tactical move as it is not easy
to form a cricket team with such a plethora of
nationalities as we now have in most Zimbabwean
families..... Just imagine the Bok supporters taking
on the Wallabies after a few glasses of Champagne !!
Now each family member is either a gourmet cook or a
gourmet eater, so this makes feeding the mob
relatively easy. We had in turn traditional Zimbabwe
fare, traditional Russian Fare, some Ozzo grub and of
course a number of Texan rib eye steaks....
Being an Apple Macintosh computer orientated family,
it is easy to entertain ourselves, just buy one member
of the family a new mac for Christmas and the entire
family gets involved in giving computer lessons.
We are a quirky family and of course there is always a
lotto run by the men as to how many rolls of loo paper
the girls are going to use over Christmas !!
We can always find an excuse for a party, we have
present wrapping parties, tree decorating parties,
light hanging parties and a party each time we get
back from the airport after collecting another son or
daughter, completely frazzled after a thirty hour trip
from some remote God forsaken corner of the world.
One of the best things about a Texas Christmas is the
lights. Each and every house is beautifully decorated
with trillions of pretty white or coloured lights, and
many pleasant if chilly evenings are spent walking or
driving around to see the Christmas lights.
One thing I did notice this year was that many more
homes featured a religious theme, a nativity scene or
a tiny crib. Maybe the Americans are at last making a
stand against the people who are trying to take Christ
out of Christmas......
Sadly we had no "babies" with us this year, but we did
buy a Barbie Doll for our new daughter in law from
Kazakhstan who has never possessed a Barbie doll !!
I must confess however that here are no nicer
Christmas activities than putting together a
gingerbread house and undertaking an edible
gingerbread jigsaw puzzle !!
Christmas Carols are of course mandatory, although
with so many young adults around, there were a few
animated discussions as to the suitability of the more
modern Christmas Carols.
Mother eventually pulled rank and totally and
unequivocally banned any rap carols by Eminem and
Tupac after looking at the titles, one of which was
"My Ghetto Christmas" and the other which basically
depicted Christmas as a four letter word !!
And so the family went back meekly to Celine Dion's
"Oh Holy Night" although I did make a concession to
"Silent Night" done by Mannheim Steamroller !!
HeeHoo always manages to get the last word and began
to play his favourite Christmas Carol - "Leeuloop" as
loud as he possibly could...and as often as he
The after lunch Christmas movie also caused a little
angst and several favourites were mooted, like The
Nativity Story", "The Night before Christmas" and of
course "Scrooge" plus "How the Grinch stole Christmas"
When there began a tussle between the Old Grey Hairs
and the Young Moderns showing a propensity to watch
the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".... to save a family
rift ..... Hee Hoo made a very undemocratic decision
to watch a tape of THE Cricket match, (the greatest of
match of all time I gather) ..... where in 2006....
S.A. scored something like 438 runs in fifty overs
against the hapless Aussies !!
Now another very bad family trait has emerged recently
I have noticed ... namely " How to divert Moms
attention from dragging us off to Church on Christmas
However Highland Village is deep inside the legendary
Bible Belt, and I was convinced that I would have the
upper hand this year with these hapless heathens of
A stiff upper lip British Christmas comprises
crackers, Charlie's home made mince pies, Downings or
Woolies mince meat pudding and brandy sauce !!
As these strange items are unknown in Texas, most of
these had to be smuggled past the Eagle Eye of the US
Minute attention is paid to detail right down to the
provision of a couple of miniatures of Bols brandy for
the Brandy Pudding, imagine (horrors) brandy sauce
made with Jack Daniels !!
Eggnog parties are another necessary component of a
Kriel Christmas, and much grating of nutmeg, swirling
of cinnamon sticks and clinking of glasses makes sure
there is Christmas spirit a plenty.
But one can always make time for deep meaningful
family conversation, when one sees one's offspring so
DMC sometimes gets a bit much though when the bird
needs to be stuffed, the broccoli needs to be blanched
and the ham needs to be decorated and glazed !!
Pressure, pressure, pressure..... the dishes are the
worst, why we cannot all meet in Bulawayo where
Charlie loves to do the dishes, I do not know......
In Texas, Brother In Law Dave, gets tetchy about his
dishwasher, the sewage system always gives up the
ghost, usually on Christmas Eve, but the shops, but
the glorious shops are always full to bursting with
wonderful goodies, and more often than not .... open
Christmas Day, New Years Day, Boxing Day, its a twenty
four hour society so no horror amongst horror that you
might have forgotten the cranberry sauce !!