Christmas Past, Christmas Present

As we walked into Murray and Birgitta’s house today, Laurie said, It’s like returning to the past!  All the memories of past holidays and Christmases at Brooklyn Farm came flooding back.

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Brooklyn Farmhouse – Pool relatively new

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Lest we forget this relic stays in the garden

The first time I met the Mackenzie family, I was “Earl’s new partner”.  It was an anxious time for me – would they even want to meet me. Barbara and her sister had been close – and here I was, her ‘replacement’ intruding into her home.  Would they resent me?  Would they be openly hostile or worse – distantly polite?   I needn’t have worried –  I was warmly welcomed and instantly made to feel one of the family.  Barbara and I soon became as close as sisters and  after that first meeting we spent many happy holidays together.  Andrew and Barbara had five children whose ages fitted in perfectly with our three Murray, Heather and Glynis were similar in age to Lisa and Lauren and Joan and Ann to Laurie.   The other cousins were often there too and sometimes there were up to 20 of us staying at the farm at the same time. Yet everyone blended in well together, the older ones including the younger ones in their activities and taking good care of them.  There were early morning trips to the dairy, hair-raising rides on the back of the bakkie into the lands, swimming in the river and the dam and picnics at the Romantic Pool.   The teens would make their annual pilgrimage to Underberg for the New Year Party where everybody gathered on somebody’s farm and slept over in a barn!  They’re all still with us in one piece so it must have been okay!

When Lauren graduated as a teacher she took her first post at Kokstad Junior School – it was supposed to be for a year but 22 years later she is there still! She met Allan and simply married him and stayed.

Now all those kids are married with kids of their own and Christmas celebrations have changed. In-laws have to be considered so now it’s a Mackenzie Christmas on even years and each of the five take turns to host. This year was the first time in five that we’ve been to Kokstad for Christmas and being at the farm made it even more special.   Patriarch and Matriarch, Andrew and Barbara now live in a small cottage on the farm and Murray and his family live in the wonderful old farm house so full of memories.

There are twelve Mackenzie grandchildren now ranging in age from a few months to twenty-five!   Our four range from 12 to 19 making it sixteen of the next generation at dinner on Christmas Day.  It filled me with joy  to be seated with 39 others at the beautifully set festive tables laden with the most delicious fare.  Andrew and Barbara can be proud of this beautiful, warm and loving family that still surround them.

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Our mad gang of 10

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Our hosts – Murray and Birgitta with their boys Seth and Aiden- their daughter, Brittany is working in America

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Glynis and niece Caitlyn

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Who wouldn’t love such a gorgeous aunt

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Laurie with Sarah – Ann’s baby

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Nathan, Seth, Aidan and Simon waiting for the go ahead to open pressies.

Lauren and Birgitta did the organising, assigning a dish to each family.   Present giving could have ruined the budgets for the rest of the year so a system of buying one gift per couple and one per child was devised – and it worked  well and the spirit of Christmas was upheld.

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Festively set tables – Thank you Birgitta!

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In Africa, Christmas lunch is usually served cold -delicious cold roasts of every kind of meat, and a variety of scrumptious salads

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The younger boys getting ready to tuck in

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The adults having fun

The pool is a relatively new addition to the farm garden and provided much fun to the younger boys of the extended family.

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Soccer featured too

The goats thought there might be Christmas plants for lunch

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and the calves also ventured onto the lawns for a Christmas graze.

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Yes another Kokstad Christmas under the belt but this one was super special!

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