A View From My Point

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The Big Five

My Mother is the Eldest of five (5) children. They grew up on a farm in the Eastern Cape living the life of wild creatures, amongst the more domesticated cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. My Ouma (Grandmother) was an only child and I’m sure that to compensate for her loneliness (which she must have been since her parents wouldn’t have had the access to all the cool extra mural activities and social opportunities that single children do these days) she felt obliged to breed herself enough people to never be lonely again. And I suppose like all of us Moms she must have realised her mistake and subsequently under the guise of a decent education she got shot of them one by one by sending them off to Boarding School. That and the 40km commute twice a day wouldn’t have been great for the oxen and wagon.

And so scattered to the wind these five siblings grew up apart and saw each other on high days and holidays, cultivating for themselves relationships built in the headiness of relaxation. It’s still like that today, even though the Matriarch that was my Ouma passed away some years ago, these five no- longer- children get together and have a really good time. A time of laughing, horseplay and connecting much better with each other than most people with siblings ever do.

It’s something to envisage and even more of a blessing to endure. There are off colour jokes for every occassion – even more so now the older they get and become less inhibited by what other people might think. When one is in their company for an evening you wake up the next morning with aching belly and facial muscles from all the giggling (and food, there’s always a lot of very good food). There are wrestling matches and tickle fights – something you don’t want to get involved in and make yourself very scarce from if you see one brewing, unless- you’re into that kind of thing. The whole fun of it being that they each weigh about 100 kgs. Making them half a ton and a city pavement wide if they’re walking abreast and so they adopted for themselves the term – The Big Five.

Those of you that are au fait with your African Safari terminology will recognize the similarities. The Big Five are at the top of their respective food chains and a feature on many Bucket Lists all around the world. The Elephant, The Rhinoceros, The Lion, The Leopard and The Buffalo – not necessarily in that order, my Mother and each of her siblings represents one of them. They didn’t have to argue about who was who, very diplomatically the names were written down and placed in a hat and each was allowed to draw their lot. And they wear these labels with a pride – who wouldn’t want to be equated with any of  these glorious beasts?

I see the Internet calls the real five animals the “Famous” Big Five. My Mother and her siblings much more modestly are simply The Big Five – they have printed t-shirts, sweaters, bumper stickers, glasses, mugs and peak caps to prove it. They frequent sleepy sea side towns in the years that Christmas isn’t  celebrated at one of their homes (every second year there is a Christmas Tribal Gathering)  and they take the place by the horns – loud and laughing their socks off, they always make a lasting impression.

If you encounter them, ask them for their autographs and  you can tick them off your Bucket List.


30 Crafty Christmas Hats for The Tribal Meeting In the Desert 2011

Every other years Christmas is traditionally held at one of the homes of my Mother or her siblings. There are Five of them (they call themselves The Big Five –  because they are Big and Wild and of course, because there are 5 (Five) of them). This rota makes up a good system over a decade and leaves very little space for maneuvering as it is Set In Stone since their Mother (My Ouma) passed away when she got up for a cup of tea one morning while she was on holiday in our house – but that’s a story for another blog.

This year The Tribe will be gathering at my parents home in The Karoo – a semi desert area (really semi desert not a REAL desert where it’s entirely desolate but close enough) – it is going to be Hot! Temperatures of above 35 degrees Centigrade are the norm and we can expect higher. We are of European descent – not the lovely Mediterranean European but the pasty pink white kind, the kind that doesn’t flourish in the sweltering section. French, German and Irish to be exact – not that it matters since those ancestors are so far back in the archives all we really have of them are the remnants of their pigmentation – well some of us do, it seems there might have been some infidelity among the natives when the Huguenots landed on these Southern Shores since I have some Uncles, a Sister and a Daughter that have what can only politely be called ‘Strong’ skin. They’re going to handle it fine and I’m happy for them.  But, I digress.

As one of the Hostesses apparently legitimate offspring it has been thrust upon me to make 30 (thirty) Christmas Hats for the revelers, varying in age and head size between the living years of 67 (most senior Grandad) and less than 12 months (no offense to the cousin involved but I can’t keep track of the prolific propagation of this Tribe).

Don’t get me wrong, this task might not have been forced into my lap – I more than likely volunteered but I was plied with wine by my Sister who knows my weakness for a good Sauvignon Blanc and this same Sister has a way of sweeping one up  into being highly motivated to Party (yes with a capital) – an admirable quality when one owns and runs a restaurant but not so much when one is being delegated to – I believe this is what makes her such an excellent addition to the Entertainment Industry, her ability to Delegate (she does that with a capital D too).

And so here I sit, sparkly pipe cleaners, Christmas baubles, tinsel  and cardboard in Red and White (it’s the Theme – please note the capital) all still in the brown paper bag that I bought them in a week ago. Am I cutting and gluing and humming Michael Buble under my breath while I nibble on mince pies? – no. I’m thinking up ideas to perhaps have a ‘Crafting Table’ where those who would like a Yuletide head piece could make their own? Could I sell to them that it’s too hot to wear hats, over 80% of ones own body heat needs to escape through the top of ones head – surely in this desert climate one shouldn’t be wearing a hat? And while you’re eating, isn’t it rude to wear a hat at the table?  If I didn’t come up with something soon, I thought, I’d better get cracking on the crafting. And then I read this post :  by The Good Greatsby – http://wp.me/p1ngBd-1bB (I hope I’ve done that right, if it doesn’t ‘click’ to him then please do yourself the favour and go and have look with your normal search engine technique  –  I will get lessons in Internet one day – at the moment I’m bumblingingly self taught by Google and good Samaritan IT people).

So those of you that are reading this blog that are going to be at the Gathering, (what else could explain my audience of 37?) – I can get one of my kids to draw something that’ll outshine any hat that I can muster over which we all will ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ for the 3 days of Festivities. Since most of the Elders have given up smoking and drinking for a while now, in the interest of being able to host the most Tribal Christmas parties – that’s not going to generate much interest. So, I’m going to need one of you grown ups to do something monumentous – perhaps announce that you’ll be sponsoring us each an overseas trip/paying for the grandkids education. And then, a big favour, if it’s at all possible – could one of my Siblings – you know who you are, at least, at the very least, pretend to be knocked up or in the Brothers case to have the decency to let my Sister In Law walk around with her belly out.

That would save me a whole lot of crafting trouble – thanks, in advance.

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