Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen
As a kid, Christmas was a strange and somewhat disappointing time of the year. All the Christmas songs we sang at school were about reindeer and sleighs, cold and darkness, chestnuts roasting on open fires and this mysterious white stuff called snow. Despite asking Father Christmas (never Santa Claus) for snow several years in a row and waiting anxiously for it to arrive, it never did. It wasn’t until I was 18 and spent December in Switzerland that I experienced a white Christmas and saw proper snow for the first time.
The Christmas season kicked off for my family on December 16th – a public holiday in South Africa and the day the Christmas tree goes up. We had a real tree once or twice but they inevitably died in the sweltering December heat so we stuck with a plastic tree after that, replete with balls of cotton wool in imitation of the ever elusive snow. But after a while even that seemed silly so my brother, father and I built a tree out of wire and wrapped it in tinsel. This happened about ten years ago and that same tree is still in use today.
Exhibit A: Wire crafted Christmas tree…
Some of my fondest memories involve my large, extended family hanging out in the garden and playing Marco Polo in the pool while Christmas dinner cooked on the braai (South African version of a grill or barbecue). The best gifts were pool noodles and inflatable lilos. Christmas for me was never a stuffed turkey and vegetable casserole, but rather boerewors and salad.
Christmas Eve usually involved a light supper and laying out the presents. For a while I left milk and cookies for Father Christmas but that eventually became beer and biltong – that was a year or two before I realised my dad was the one sneaking into the lounge to leave the last of the gifts. Our family, like most in SA, open presents on Christmas morning before the big day of family and feasting commences, which actually doesn’t stop until after December 26th.
Although I’ve spent many more Christmases in South Africa, I’m lucky to have experienced this time of year in 3 other countries as well: Switzerland, Australia and Finland. While I do sometimes miss the sun and warmth of a summery festive season, I’ve got to say that there is something extremely special about a snowy, cold, dark December. And at least all the Christmas songs now make sense.
Suzanne van Rooyen
The Other Me
by Suzanne van Rooyen
Title: The Other Me
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: 19 Dec, 2013
Length: 216 pages
Genre: YA, LGBT, contemporary
Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.
As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.
But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.
Amazon – http://amzn.com/B00HEYFWYY
About the Author:
Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep’d by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Website – http://suzannevanrooyen.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Suzanne_Writer
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/SuzanneAuthor/