Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Eve in Soweto

When I got back from my bike tour of Soweto with Thomas, I arrived in time to see Phil and Timo donning Santa hats, taking care of some forty Soweto children in the park, all carrying pictures of Santa Claus that they had coloured in themselves. Some Swedish group had arrived with a big bag of Christmas presents for the kids, who were completely beside themselves with excitement and anticipation.

Timo told each kid receiving a gift to give their little colouring sheets to someone in the Swedish group as a thank you. One of the kids gave their paper to me, I guess because in their eyes I could be Swedish. I have to admit that it melted my heart to see the kids’ reactions when they received their gifts. It’s unbelievable how little it takes to make these kids so happy. Friso was so excited about receiving a little race car that he was shouting and showing it off to everyone, including me, running the car along the table and the ground and people’s arms. Another kid received brand new soccer shoes to replace his worn sandals, and after Timo tied the shoelaces for him, the little boy’s beaming smile was almost wider than his face. It was so cute to see that it hurt my heart. I was filled with deep regret that I’d shown up in Soweto empty-handed. Just buying a big bag of lollipops would have made the kids’ day. Instead, I gave out a couple of racist mints that I’d gotten from the Spur restaurant the night before.

Apparently Germans celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, so Phil’s mom, whom we’ve now dubbed “Mama Africa”, insisted on Christmasifying everything on Saturday night. While the boys went out, she decorated the whole common room with candles, real pine branches she’d smuggled from Germany, marzipan, Christmas fudge, chocolate santas, and all sorts of German Christmas treats with names I can’t pronounce. She also sported a ridiculously small Christmas hat. Sometimes moms are great to have around, even if it’s not your own.

I asked the Germans, if they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, what do they do on Christmas? They didn’t have an answer.

The hostel owner was all in a tizzy because we had been promised a Christmas dinner, but due to miscommunication, or something, all of the hostel staff had gone home and nobody had lit the fire for the braai. He managed to whip together a Christmas miracle however, and soon enough we were enjoying a delicious meal of braai meat, wors sausages, mealiepap, and like four kinds of salads, only one of them consisting of vegetables.

And a lot of South African brewed Castle Lager.

After dinner, we all sat around the fire with Trigger and Stanza, who was working the night shift at the Lebo’s that night. We found a bunch of drums and I busted out my ukulele so we sang Christmas carols, mostly in German. I discovered that my ukulele playing improves vastly when I drink.

Then we had many rounds of Jagermeilter (I don’t understand why Germans like Jagermeilter so much), which resulted in many bizarre photos that I looked through the next morning and have no recollection of taking, and also cannot post because *somebody’s* fly was open the entire time. Sigh, boys.

Lil phil passed out