1 Dec 2013

Storytelling Sunday: The Ghost of Christmas past...

Home is where the heart is.
Christmas is all about family.
So why, almost a decade ago, I decided to spend my Christmas in Zimbabwe is beyond me.
Oh yes the adventure. Plus there was this boy...
Not many people can say they spent the week between Christmas and New Years white water rafting down the Zambezi can they?
Or that they rode barefeet on a motorcycle and got chased by rabid dogs.
The strange thing was that it was hot. 
Christmas day was spent playing tennis, swimming in the pool and having a BBQ as demonstrated in these never-quite-scrapped snapshots and my crude attempts at a scrapbook on a student budget.

No turkey, no Christmas jumpers and certainly no snow.
Although it was a great trip and I love travelling when it came to Christmas Day all I wanted was to be with my family.
It didn't feel as festive as the Africans don't really put decorations up or go into the whole Western style Father Christmas.
I was really looking forward to my phone call home and then the phone lines were playing up. It was really disappointing.
I did receive an e-mail where all of the family wrote me a special message and being the geeky scrapbooker I am, I still have it.
It contained details of all of the little quirks that make a Jones family Christmas:-
  • Mom trying to open all of her presents early
  • How dad has just fallen out of the top window trying to put the Christmas lights up (then a disclaimer that he had exaggerated this fact to spice the e-mail up)
  • my little sister was wearing my older sister's engagement ring and pretending it was hers from her latest crush
  • dad commenting that he was impressed I went white water rafting as even he hasn't done that - and he's done a lot
  • my little sister doing her 'I'm so excited' Christmas Eve dance
  • my older sister asking if there was any 'talent' in Zimbabwe
  • dad doing a political rant about colonisation in Africa
  • the sisters gearing up for the traditional fight over roast potatoes
This e-mail made me cry as it reminded me of all of the creature comforts and dynamics that I was missing out on.

However, I did get to spend a few precious days with my granny in Pretoria and also get to meet and get spoilt by my Uncle Theo and Auntie Lynne, including a trip to Sun City and lots of tasty meals out. 
I saw and touched a real live elephant. 
I went zooming round on a jet ski for the first time ever - a real adrenalin rush.

The trip home was not without its hiccups.
A Zimbabwean friend of ours had asked for me to bring back this sweet orange drink that he was craving called mazowe and for some bizarre reason I decided to put it in my hand luggage. Clearly there wasn't the limit on liquids back then.
Inevitably it exploded all over my bag and ruined the postcards and souvenirs that I was bringing home with me and was a tricky clean up job in a poky toilet cubicle on the lay over in Amsterdam.
As I landed at Heathrow I was feeling excited to be reunited with my family again. 
I walked through the arrivals gate and saw a group of people with a banner drawing lots of attention to themselves.
The lady next to me commented on how embarrassing it would be if they were your family.
I squinted in their direction (as I wasn't wearing my glasses or contacts) and, yep, you've guessed it - it was my family.
They had a banner which read on one side - 'Welcome home Mel!' and on the other 'Beware Ebola Virus' with skull and crossbones either side. 
Well apparently there had been an ebola outbreak in Zim when I was there and so they had hatched this plan to come to the airport in masks and this banner - luckily they ditched the masks.
Well I tried to steer my baggage trolley in the opposite direction and wanted the ground to swallow me up.
But this was what I had missed after all. 
My crazy family and their quirky sense of humour.
So I steered it back in their direction and it was hugs and kisses and giggles all around.

I am sad that Storytelling Sunday is coming to an end, but just look at the X-Factor you can have too much of a good thing. I have enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with you all and sharing your experiences, photos and precious'. Thanks Sian for inspiring this community of storytellers.


  1. What an adventure, but being away from family on the holidays is hard. Not all my family can make it here for Christmas, and even though I am home, it seems not quite right without them.

  2. You know, all I have ever known is a hot Christmas and it always seemed very strange to see winter images of Christmas while we were growing up - the northern hemisphere's idea of Christmas permeated the world and we are not all the same! Having said that, a white Christmas would be a lot of fun, a bit of a novelty!

    LOVE your XFactor comparison at the end ... very funny!

  3. Yep, I'm with you..too much of a good thing would not be,er, good. Let's end on a high!

    My Mum tells the story of her first married Christmas which was spent in NIgeria...by the end of it I'm practically crying for her! I think this is a brilliant story about family and I laughed out loud about the banner at the end. Um, we make banners in this family too :) Thanks for joining us Mel. I have loved getting to know a bit more about you and the family through the stories x

  4. I can identify with your hot Christmas, away from family, having done it myself at 17. And you said I was adventurous! Thanks for sharing your tale.

  5. What a lovely post! My father is often away with work for christmas, so when we get a family christmas all together, it's all the more special.
    Carrie xx


  6. A really lovely post and what a wonderful family you have x


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