December 26th, 2012
After being wishy washy about where to spend Christmas this year I decided to just stay at my homestead. I was told to not really expect a big celebration so I emotionally prepared myself to just skip Christmas this year. However, like most things in Swaziland, I was surprised by how things actually played out. I ended up having a really good Christmas.
Despite the really warm weather that Christmas brought in (it hovered around 100), I managed to channel some Christmas spirit. I was surprised by the visit of four of my host sisters for Christmas. I was told they all go to their husbands homestead to celebrate. My oldest Sisi Winnile (Win-ee-lay) did just that, but the next two came home. Zandile (Zan-dee-lay) is super pregnant, like going to have the baby any day, so she didn’t want to travel far to her husbands parental homestead, so she came here instead. Lungile (Loon-gee-lay) is a police officer in manzini and is on duty during the holiday so she was in an out. Nosipho (No-see-po) came home after a month away with Lungile, and Buyile (boo-ee-lay) came home now that she is on break from school the High School she attends in Manzini. My bhuti Sifiso (Si-fee-so) is also home from University in South Africa. Three out of the five grandsons were here as well, so it was a busy house.
Since it was so hot, we spent most of the time just sitting outside enjoying each other company and the breeze. On Christmas Eve we did a lot of preparing for the Christmas meal. I baked g-free chocolate chips cookies, while Make and Babe shucked fresh mealies (maize) for the mealie bread. Sifiso slaughtered a goat, hung it from a tree and impressively skinned and butchered it in a record time before the sun completely set. Lungile had brough professionally butchered goat steaks and she braaied (grilled on an open fire) them up for dinner. I have had boiled goat here a lot, but braaied is so much better. Having it professionally butchered helped – a better meat to fat ratio.
Christmas morning didn’t bring presents but it brought the excitement of Christmas food. All my bosisi started cooking early to avoid the afternoon heat, and Make made two giant batches of mealie bread (my favorite Swazi food). Once the food was done, the rest of the day was spend eating at our leisure, sleeping, watching TV. It was awesome. I love being lazy and I love food so really it was a great day for me. It was really fun to just hang out with the family and it was really comfortable. I felt free to just enjoy the day any way I wanted and was in my “home” so I could just do that. It sounds weird but I felt like I belonged there, as another kid, not a guest. Despite living here for 1.5 years I sometimes still feel like I am just a guest. I am always asking permission to do things, worrying about what everyone is thinking when I do things. But not today, today I was part of the family and that was what I needed and wanted for Christmas.