Keeping with tradition
“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.
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.