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 Tea.

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 room table.

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 could.....

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 Eve "

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 mine.......

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 Customs !!

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 seldom.

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 for business.

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 !!