Three fam­i­lies, three dif­fer­ent ways to cel­e­brate

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

CHRIST­MAS is a time for shar­ing, car­ing and joy among fam­i­lies. asked three city fam­i­lies one sim­ple ques­tion: How do you cel­e­brate Christ­mas?

The Petersen fam­ily from Strand­fontein feel Christ­mas should be fam­ily- ori­en­tated and be­lieve in bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether, too.

They do this by hav­ing a lav­ish lights dis­play at their home, a tra­di­tion they’ve main­tained for 22 years.

Trevor Petersen, who runs two busi­nesses from home, says ev­ery inch of his front gar­den is filled with lights, in­clud­ing his bakkie parked in the drive­way.

“I have a pas­sion for it – I love it. I do it for the kids; they al­ways ask me when I am go­ing to put the lights on,” he said.

On Christ­mas morn­ing, the fam­ily at­tends the ser­vice at St Fran­cis of As­sisi Angli­can church in Strand­fontein, be­fore mak­ing their way home for a tra­di­tional Christ­mas meal of gammon, lamb, turkey and fam­ily favourite cray­fish curry.

“Christ­mas is about the giv­ing and not the re­ceiv­ing. And church is also very im­por­tant,” said Petersen’s wife, Brenda.

The cou­ple’s daugh­ter, Kim, 21, who works for a bank, said: “Christ­mas wouldn’t be Christ­mas with­out the lights. Peo­ple from all over come to see them.”

Ralph Lorenz, comes from a Ger­man fam­ily, while his wife Debi was born in the UK, so they pro­vide their daugh­ters, Alex, 13, and Abi­gail, 11, with the best of both those worlds.

Debi said: “Ac­cord­ing to Ger­man tra­di­tion, Christ­mas is cel­e­brated on De­cem­ber 24, which means the fam­ily has a tra­di­tional Ger­man feast on Christ­mas Eve. Then we have an­other feast on Christ­mas Day.”

Ralph said: “We mostly pre­pare Ger­man treats such as bis­cuits and cakes and dishes like gammon and sauer­kraut.”

Debi said: “We like to have English dishes on Christ­mas Day, such as roast beef, York- shire pud­ding and Brus­sels sprouts.”

The Lorenz home is el­e­gantly dec­o­rated with a huge, real Christ­mas tree, cho­sen and dec­o­rated by Abi­gail.

Debi said: “Both my hus­band and I had a real Christ­mas tree grow­ing up, and we de­cided it was a tra­di­tion that we wanted to keep.”

Many homes are dec­o­rated with tin­sel and lights but there are fam­i­lies who strug­gle to af­ford dec­o­ra­tions. One such fam­ily is the Tyawana fam­ily from Lost City, Mitchells Plain, where the com­mu­nity has been se­verely af­fected by the eco­nomic down­turn.

Dar­lina Tyawana lives in a two- bed­roomed house and of­ten has one or more of her three chil­dren, six grand­chil­dren or two great-grand­chil­dren stay­ing with her.

Tyawana, af­fec­tion­ately known as Mama Dar­lina, says that she and the women in the area get to­gether for a “gooi­gooi”, a form of stokvel.

She said: “Ev­ery year we put away R50 a month, so we can buy food stamps, and then at the end of the year we share the stamps with each other. But this year, be­cause of un­em­ploy­ment, ev­ery­one couldn’t take part, so the gooi-gooi will not be good this year.”

She said she and her com­mu­nity had al­ways ben­e­fited from shar­ing – even her home had been built by the com­mu­nity com­ing to­gether.

Although times are hard, Mama Dar­lina, her daugh­ter Ziyanda Tyawana and grand­daugh­ter Na­max­abiso Tyawana, will be found in the kitchen pre­par­ing food for the fam­ily and com­mu­nity this week­end.

Mama Dar­lina said: “In our cus­tom, we dish food for our neigh­bours and take it to them in the morn­ing. Also, chil­dren get new clothes, then they go to ev­ery door and get small gifts.”

She had pre­pared gifts for vis­it­ing chil­dren and in­tends pre­par­ing meals us­ing chicken, red meat and chakalaka.

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