You can fool yourself throughout the year, but it’s only in the festive season you realise you live a sad, empty life devoid of the truly important things: love, goodwill, family and leftover gammon.
The Lotriet family is in Cape Town to spend the holidays with my family for the first time in … well, the first time ever.
The visit to her virtually unknown in-laws makes the lovely Snapdragon extremely uncomfortable, which is a wonderful source of entertainment to me. Am I cruel? Undoubtedly.
But the festive season is a competition. We all compete when it comes to gifts, cooking skills, well-behaved children … I don’t often win these undeclared wars, but I am beating Snapdragon in feeling at home in the Mother City.
Not that I’m in the running for overall honours. My son – a 25-year-old young man with sickeningly good manners – lives in Cape Town and is the apple of his grandmother’s eye.
“I think there’s something wrong,” my sister said when she opened a gift from my mother on Christmas Eve. “It’s a framed photograph of Rikus.”
“If you don’t like the frame, you can trade with someone else. All the frames are different. But all the pictures are the same.”
“When you go back home, I want to stay here. Cape Town has Santa and Rikus,” said the two-year-old Egg.
I’m fully aware a father shouldn’t complain about the success of his son, but this is about winning and losing. And he’s winning Christmas, closely followed by my sister with her model family and impressive glazed Christmas dishes. And my mom with her sea-view flat and bowls.
The lovely Snapdragon and I are well behind. We might have lost our know-it-all toddler to a flashy young whippersnapper, but the war isn’t over.
We still have an ace up our sleeve.
I’m an old fox. Egg is not a prize, she’s a penalty – she has a foul little mouth and will swap you for younger parents at the drop of a hat. I’ll hang Rikus’ picture in the kitchen where Snapdragon brews up her potions and parks her broom – that’ll teach him.
And my pièce de résistance? I’ve captured all the leftover gammon with the gusto displayed by some when they capture countries.
Next week is going to be interesting.