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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Charlie Brown and other Christmas favourites


When the Festive Season rolls around in South Africa the country is not suddenly inundated under a large dollop of snow for the kids to make snowmen out of and our folk don’t march the streets in merry bands to raise their voices in song about babies in mangers. It’s sweltering hot down here. The dry grass cracks under our sandaled feet as we splash in our pools and we braai instead of roast the obligatory ham. We also drink cold beer instead of mulled wine and egg nogg.

Our television broadcaster still relays the American programming that eschews the traditional Christmas message to the masses. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the Christmas Shoes with Rob Lowe just because it was on while I was waiting for Charlie Brown. Even though the American Christmas doesn’t really fit in with our way of life we still make a good go of it by putting up the lights and the Styrofoam reindeer (an animal that wouldn’t last an hour in this climate.) My personal favourite is the little jiggling Santa that all small businesses around Cape Town seem to have set up in their reception areas. If Santa set foot in Cape Town during December the last thing he would do would be to dance around in that fur coat in this thirty degree heat.

Despite the silly décor I still love Christmas. I love the cheesy movies that all seem to feature Rob Lowe; I love the stupid jiggling Santa; I love the fact that even though we live in South Africa all our Christmas cards have snowmen on them; I love eating super rich food until I’m about to explode and I love seeing all the old relatives I only have to see once a year and of course Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special.

There are many reasons to love Christmas in South Africa despite the heat. No-one can sing an as spirited rendition of Wham’s Last Christmas as I can after a Mojito.

One of the best things about Christmas are the themed books. Everyone has their favourite Christmas story.

Here are mine.

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

hogfather.jpgThe Hogfather is Pratchett’s hilarious take on the Christmas myth. It features Death, Susan and the wizards of Unseen University so its one of the funniest books in the Discworld series. I had an amazing second-hand copy which my mother swopped out one year to get a Nora Roberts for herself. That was a very Black Christmas indeed.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

agatha.jpgIt is during those times when I read Agatha Christie that I wish we had cold miserable weather to enjoy them in, her Christmas mysteries especially so. This tale details the murder of Simeon Lee when Hercule Poirot is just trying to have a nice Christmas.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

pudding.jpgAnother Christmas murder mystery by the Queen of Crime. This little plum has five tasty treats to delight lovers of the classic who-done-it and features my favourite detective Hercule Poirot.

Different Seasons by Stephen King

seasons.jpgStephen King is one of my favourite short story writers. I love good old-fashioned American schlock which he captures so beautifully on paper. This anthology is slightly different and isn’t as gory as some of King’s works. The story The Breathing Method: A Winters Tale takes place on the Thursday before Christmas.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories Holiday Ed. by Tim Burton

oyster.jpgThe master director behind A Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride has released a book of nonsense verse and it’s marvellous.

Here’s a taste.

The Pin Cushion Queen

Life isn’t easy
for the Pin Cushion Queen.
When she sits alone on her throne
Pins push through her spleen.

The Wonderful Christmas Undies by Edward Monkton

undies.jpgEdward Monkton writes amazing gift books. Remember The Penguin of Death? This sweet story is about love, underwear and Christmas.

How’s that for tradition?


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