Keep­ing with tra­di­tion

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“I’m a real plaas­meisie!” says Kathy. “When I wasn’t in­side help­ing keep house, I was un­der the fruit trees in the gar­den with my sib­lings. Our weekly en­ter­tain­ment, which we very much looked for­ward to, was a week­end walk to the shops where my mom would buy us each an ice cream – sim­ple!

“So you can imag­ine that Christ­mas was a big deal with food at the cen­tre of the cel­e­bra­tion. Es­pe­cially meat and pota­toes – the other stuff of­ten found its way un­der the ta­ble for a pet or into a pot plant!”

It’s no won­der then that a fes­tive cel­e­bra­tion in Kathy’s home also be­gins with meat. The cook­ing process, which she de­scribes as “low and slow”, kicks off the morn­ing be­fore Christ­mas Day. “It’s usu­ally quite an early start; I don’t need much sleep gen­er­ally and at this time of the year, I’m too ex­cited any­way!”

The older sib­lings are in charge of the lamb and beef (some­times pork) and the younger ones, the tongue. “The real meat re­quires ex­pe­ri­ence – we can’t risk what the younger ones might do with it!” Kathy jokes.

Af­ter church on Christ­mas Day, ev­ery­one typ­i­cally re­turns to the McDon­ald house­hold to add the fi­nal touches to the var­i­ous dishes. “We’re sup­posed to ro­tate where Christ­mas lunch is hosted each year but we love be­ing at home and hav­ing ev­ery­one at our place, so it’s been held here quite of­ten. Eric and I are also very lazy to drive, so it suits us!” Kathy says.

Starters aren’t usu­ally on the fes­tive menu. “Ev­ery­one’s wait­ing for the meat,” ex­plains Kathy. “Once the first pieces have been cut, I take them to the ta­ble in their roast­ing pans – it’s mostly a grab-and-en­joy af­fair.”

Lunch is ei­ther dished up at the large din­ing ta­ble or served buf­fet-style. “We en­joy re­laxed lunches with ev­ery­one reach­ing over each other, grab­bing this and that, and min­gling.” Dessert typ­i­cally in­cludes a pavlova and tri­fle, af­ter which ev­ery­one re­laxes in their favourite chair.

“It ends with the kids play­ing with their new toys out­side while we eat choco­lates and sing hymns as the sun goes down...” >>

Kathy and Eric’s grand­chil­dren – Juan, Kate-Emily and Liam (left) – have a ball, open­ing gifts in the for­mal lounge. The tree or­na­ments echo the el­e­gant gold theme for this year’s fes­tiv­i­ties. “When it comes to fes­tive themes, I go to the shops a few days be­fore the big day, see what’s avail­able and de­cide what I’m go­ing to do based on that – easy-peasy!” says Kathy. “As I al­ways say to my chil­dren, why go look­ing for dun­ga­rees when all the shops have are jeans?”

One of three mo­saic geckos, hand­made by Kathy, that greet vis­i­tors as they make their way to the front door (right).

The Christ­mas tree was made with white-painted tim­ber branches that ro­tate around a dowel.

Cut­lery from @home

Seated clock­wise from left: Kathy and Eric’s son Earl and his wife Lezanne; their niece Monique and grand­son Juan; Eric and Kathy; their daugh­ters Candice and Car­men and grand­daugh­ter Kate-Emily.

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