Far From The Maddening Crowds

Jingle bells jingle bells……………..

We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas……………….

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas……………………


Clarens 6

Again and again these sounds attack my senses everywhere I go. I am overwhelmed and irritated by the frenzy of shopping, eating, drinking and being merry all in the name of Christmas. True, Christmas is a time to be with family and to be thankful for the love and companionship that we have in one another. But do we remember the real reason for this time of celebration?

On the 22nd of December this year our family headed away from the maddening crowds towards the Eastern Free State. Our destination, the small town of Clarens nestling in the shade of the Rooiberge which forms the foothills of the Maluti Mountain Range.

Clarens 14 (2)

On arrival, we find the house where we will be spending the next few days. Situated in Main Street within walking distance of all the quaint shops and restaurants, a small grey house surrounded by a colourful garden and with majestic views of the mountains from all the windows, greets us.  We soon find that we will be sharing the garden with three rabbits which our children (all adults by now), promptly name after the rabbits in the Beatrix Potter story Peter Rabbit.

Clarens 2

Clarens 8

Thus our magic Christmas weekend starts. The days are lazy and filled with scenic walks, long afternoon naps and exploring trips to the various art and craft as well as coffee shops which lines the village square. Although the village is busy with many tourists, the frenzy of Christmas which I felt so strongly in the city is absent here.

Clarens 9

Clarens 11

Late afternoon on Christmas Eve, dark ominous looking clouds gather on the mountains around the village. Soon it starts raining and temperatures fall, giving us a reason to light a fire in the fireplace.

A fire at Christmas in South Africa?

Unheard of, but there it is, glowing and warm contributing to the overall feeling of cosiness and closeness.  We spend Christmas Eve exchanging small gifts while my husband reads the passage from the Bible which describes the real reason for our Christmas celebration.

John 3:16

New International Version (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Clarens 7

 

Christmas day dawns and it is still raining. The mountain is covered in a blanket of mist and temperatures are low enough to warrant keeping the fire going. The day is spent lazying around under blankets in front of the fire, reading, chatting and catching up on lost sleep.

On the 26th of December we reluctantly say goodbye to the rabbits, the house and the mountains and head home with renewed energy, renewed family ties and promises to return.

How did you spend Christmas?

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