~Written and edited by Veronica Clark ~

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

By Invitation Only ~ The Best Christmas Ever!

A Festive Hello to one and all!
It seems impossible that a year has flown and that we are all decorating for Christmas again, scurrying about in the kitchen and shopping up a storm!!
I confess that it sometimes seems a mad dash back and forth, but alas, I love, love it all to bits! Some days you collapse in a tired bundle and think...why the craziness, but, it only lasts for a lil bit and you good to go, adrenaline pumping!! You all know the vibe...
It is our "Feast de Resistance" at "By Invitation Only" hosted by beautiful Marsha Splenderosa

It seemed hard to top last year's post but the grand lady came up with a lovely topic. We had to tell you about our best Christmas Ever, or a Fantasy Christmas and include a tangible gift that we would give! Quite a story... So, my post will be a mixed bag!
I am fifty years old but at Christmas I am like a kid!! And of course, Christmas music is all around ...this is a favourite...


Of course, there is no snow here as we are in the middle of summer and December is... sand, sea and sun for us! I would love to experience a Christmas in a snowy location! It looks soo romantic...
For us, Christmas starts with a family picnic in the splendid setting of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens around the 16 th Dec to join thousands of Cape Tonians for Carols by Candle Light!

Many international artists have performed here and proclaim it to be the most stunning stage in the shadow of Teddy Bear Mountain! It is a magical setting..
We arrive early and usually have various Marimba bands for entertainment until the sun sets.

 A luscious picnic is carried by all and traditionally includes Fig Salad ! Salmon Gradvalax which I cure for three days, strawberries, a variety of cheese, baguettes, chocolates and lots of bubbly to fuel the singing !!

Two years ago on the very day of our picnic, my son, Byron, thought it appropriate to break his little toe!!! Mid preparations I had to rush him to hospital and the, now legendary toe had to be set! Much panic ensued, as he is a dancer and it had to be straight! We waited to see if surgery would be needed but thankfully all was fine!
This did not deter us and here he is with my gorgeous daughter Jacquie after a slow and arduous trek of 45 minutes, aided by his big sister, from the car to our picnic spot, in good cheer and they are singing their hearts out!!!

It is such a magical moment when the crowd, here, about twelve thousand strong, waves their candles and breaks into Silent Night....goose bump stuff....

The time leading up to Christmas, after the Carols is spent in holiday mode in our splendid Mother City, Cape Town, where there is so much to do and see!!! We are so incredibly blessed to be here...

At home we decorate a few trees to dot around the house. I ususally do one on my own for the formal lounge. A fresh Pine branch is decorated by the family after Christmas Carols. We love the house filled with its fragrance.
I also started a tradition whereby, I have a tree that takes up to Christmas to decorate. Everyone who visits House Tassels during December, gets to hang something on the tree and by Christmas it looks splendid!

Christmas Eve is when we ususally had our extended family celebrations, and when I was married, I entertained the family to a formal three course dinner that included all the trimmings for around forty people!
Now, the best Christmas I have ever had and also my absolute fantasy...
A few years ago, we decided to do a camping trip through the Kruger National Park! Now, doing a trip like this in December is pure craziness as it is often 45 C Degrees plus with almost 100 percent humidity. Not for the fainthearted!!! But, we did it!!!!
We started at the South end of the park and moved our very large family tent, no less than seven times, to different camps! The reason why, was that we wanted to see the newborn animals. Sadly, I do not have pictures to post!!! But can you just imagine for a moment... those stuffed little giraffes, lion cubs, little zebras and buck come to life! Cute lil warthogs scurrying about with their taught little tails erect, like mini antennas! Loads of ooohsss and aaahs emanated from our car. Little elephants being shooed along with mammas trunk, the matriarch keeping an eye on us, making sure that the brood is save!
We packed all our Christmas Presents and a tiny little Christmas tree in!! Can you believe it!!
On Christmas eve, we were camping in Satara towards the north of the Kruger Park. A very rustic camp. We arrived, pitched the tent and sorted our camp site. We were only staying for one night at this location, but, that did not deter us from putting up our Christmas tree and everyone put
their gifts under the tree. There was a storm brewing... as the sun set, dark ominous clouds rolled in and lightning lit up the sky! It was unbearably hot and this camp did not even have a pool, so, we took cold showers every so often to cool ourselves. The fire was lit for the evening braai (BBQ) and we battened down the tent in preparation of the storm!

As night fell, a full moon overhead, lightning lit the sky and the sound of thunder was punctuated by the locals drums, in the distance, with the village signing Christmas Carols in their mother tongue. As if, on cue, a pride of lions, who is always close at Satara roared .... My daughter, Jacquie turned around, she was about sixteen at the time, and said... " Mom, it doesn't get any better than this, does it?" I turned to her and said... " No, darling it doesn't!!" This is a real Christmas in the bush close to all the wonderful creatures that God has blessed us with here at the Tip of Africa!!!
It was my magical Christmas Moment and one that I do not think can ever be topped! 
The one tangible gift I would give....
Over here in Cape Town, our local radio station KFM, runs a Christmas Wish program. If you know someone with a need, any thing at all, you can send  the story to KFM and they might make it happen. The person who is given the "gift" is rung live on radio and informed that their friend has told them, that for instance, they wanted to study to be a nurse but could not afford it! And then, they are told that their wish has come true!! It is usually in the morning during rush hour traffic and we have seen grown men moved to tears in the traffic!! People's houses who have burnt down has been given new ones, much needed surgery has been given for free by doctors, etc , etc... Read more here
I would love to be the one to give someone a reunion with their father/mother or family memeber that they have not seen in twenty years!
There will be so many wonderful posts for you to read and be part of , so  hop over to Splenderosa to share in the magic!
Thank you for your precious company!
I wish each and every one of you a magical Christmas!
May this be the one that would top all others in the memory department!!
Sending you all, much love and good Christmas Cheer!
Live Well and make Memories
Please regale me with a comment below....I am all ears...


  1. I too am like a kid at Christmas, Veronica ;-)
    Christmas is such a magical time of the year...gorgeous post...I'm in the festive spirit...let the cheer and joy begin!
    Wishing you a very Happy Christmas full of happiness.

  2. Beautiful images, I loved looking at them & sharing your stories.
    Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Beautiful. I love traditions and yours of everyone that visits getting to put something on your tree is such a nice idea. I enjoyed this.

  4. What a lovely post. I love your traditions...and think that they are so important.Merry Christmas to you. Mona

  5. What an amazing time you must have had in The Kruger... that would be a Christmas to remember... xv

  6. Beautiful story, V. Every post of yours has some new discoveries for me. I know I would love South Africa. Thank you for participating with all of us BIO girls...this is the most wonderful time of the year. Big hug...

  7. Veronica! We really are "sisters" and not just because we are redheads! For this would have been my holiday fantasy too--save that I never would have believed it possible!!! I love all of it, especially the lion call. Oh my, how fortunate you are to have lived your dream--how many people can say that? And I loved all of this--Capetown seems to be where it is AT for Christmas this year...
    Gros bisous,

  8. Dear Veronica,
    It was so lovely to share your magical Christmas memories ...... isn't it great that we all have a different take on our 'By Invitation' posts ? We all live in different parts of the world living such different lives and it is so lovely to share each others memories and experiences.
    Thank you so much for your lovely comment today and I am sure that you will have many new memories made this Christmas. XXXX

  9. I can't imagine anything topping that African Christmas experience! Beautifully told!

  10. Oh, Veronica…this post just made me stop and remember exactly what Christmas is ALL about! What a beautiful post! I'm so glad I'm getting to read all of the By Invitation Only posts…I'm so glad that each of you has such a wonderful "take" on Christmas and what it is really all about! Marsha has picked some wonderful bloggers to be a part of this great series! Can't wait to catch up on more of your blog posts!

  11. Veronica thank you so much for sharing your Holiday Adventure with us. It really is all about love and being together no matter where we are!


  12. Oh my word, Veronica, you have made me so nostalgic for a Cape Christmas that I could cry!! Carols by candlelight at Kirstenbosch was our very favourite Christmas event and my children and I will never forget the magical moment of singing Silent Night with all our candles glowing underneath the mountain! But I think your Kruger Park experience tops them all!!
    An African christmas is truly unique - you summed it up perfectly in your comment on my post: "sun, sand and Sauvignon"! Thank you so much for a beautiful and inspiring post! I wish you the very happiest Christmas season xxx

  13. it looks so nice with the big christmas tree !!

  14. Dear Veronica: This post is so wonderful, I may just keep on re-reading it! Your magical Christmas is music to my ears. As you may know my greatest love is nature, wildlife and last year I fell in love with Africa. I am coming to South Africa in April and will be camping for 2 weeks with my husband in Botswana, Zambia and then on to Mozambique. I am already planning my next trip which will be Namibia Via Cape Town...I may ring you to say Hello!!

  15. Veronica, excelente presentación! Felicidades!