Come see the gifts we’ve received for Christmas…Tom’s Irish Cream Recipe…Christmas in the bush…

With no Poinsettias for us this year, we revel in the beauty of this flower that we encountered on a walk in the area.

In our old lives, Christmas was a time to celebrate life, family, friends, and the powerful message the holiday season represents for many. There was nothing spared in the preparation of this special time of the year. 

A flaming sky at sunset is a gift.

For almost 20 years Tom made his well-received over 100 bottles of Lyman’s Irish Cream (see recipe below) to give to friends and family while I spent endless hours decorating, sending cards, wrapping gifts (mostly purchased online), baking, cooking, and entertaining.

A baby duiker on wobbly legs warms our hearts.

Each year we’d receive tons of cards, which we displayed during the Christmas season, saving them until the following year. The next year, I’d cut them into shapes befitting the card’s design punching a small hole in a corner, inserting a satin ribbon for them to be used as gift tags. 

A curious baby zebra at our door.
We all have traditions that bring us comfort in their familiarity. As a family, the participants in the traditions, look forward to their implementation with little concern for their redundancy or silliness.
A mama duiker, standing watch.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Henderson, Nevada, renting a spacious vacation home, with 19 in attendance on Christmas Day. It was a memorable time, as we were only days away from leaving the US to begin our worldwide journey on January 3, 2013. 

A Giraffe we encountered on the road on a cloudy day.  Notice the three Oxpeckers (birds) on its neck eating off the insects and one flying off its head.  Seeing this was a gift.

Tom’s birthday is on December 23rd, an unconscionable time of the year for a birthday. Over the years, I made every effort to make it a special time for him as well, wrapping his gifts in birthday, not Christmas paper, planning festivities unrelated to the holidays, often not easy to do. 

A rank of impalas, very sensitive to sound and movement, kept us practically holding our breath when they appeared in our yard.

He shared the same birthday with our dearest friend and neighbor Chip whom we lost a year and a half ago.  Over the years, together with his wife Sue, the four of us celebrated birthdays, times we’ll never forget.

This is the cactus plant from which we took the above flower photo.  In our old lives, our Christmas cactus would often bloom.  This will do as an alternative.

By this time each year, all the festivities were planned, the gifts were wrapped and under the tree, the cookies were baked and placed in colorful tins and Tom had attended or was about to attend his railroad union Christmas party. My various annual “girlfriends only” Christmas luncheons had occurred and all that remained was the sharing of the meals with family and friends as Christmas edged its way in and of course, the always fun-filled gift opening.

A glimpse of the sunset from our veranda.

So, here we are, Christmas in the African bush, the South African bush to be precise, surrounded by nature, a Skype call away from contact with family and friends without a single card or gift, decorated tree, or homemade cookies. 

A joy to behold such beauty.

This is our first Christmas outside the US. How do we feel about that? We don’t feel alone. We’re surrounded by nature. If someone had told me years ago, that I had to forgo all of my usual holiday activities to sit at home without family around us, a tree, gifts, or homemade treats, I’d have gone kicking and screaming.

Certainly no “partridge in a pear tree” we delight in the simple beauty of this bird visitor.

Now, here in Marloth Park at Christmas time and for Tom’s birthday, we are at peace. The thought of all the work we used to do makes us cringe. The thought of being with our adult children and their families next year in Hawaii makes us smile. Yes, we are at peace.

Not quite, “Three French hens,” instead we have three Helmeted Guinea-fowl that visits us daily.

Living in Marloth Park is a gift, God’s creatures all around us, nature at it’s finest. We are thankful that in our senior years we are given an opportunity to engage in an entirely different Christmas season, one that isn’t about our somewhat selfish objectives to “get everything done” based on our own outrageous expectations.

The sun finally came out to reveal the moon and blue sky.  Heavenly.

Instead, we simply watch, wait and marvel as the visitors and lush vegetation surrounds us whether we’re lounging on the veranda as we’re doing at the moment, on a short drive to dinner, on a game drive, a bush dinner, or a walk in the area. For us, this is the gift that keeps giving… and giving… and giving.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Bailey’s)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint half and half cream
3 pasteurized eggs (important for safety)
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
1 T. chocolate syrup
1 cup whiskey
Blend in a blender for 2 minutes, then add the 1 cup whiskey. Blend for another 30 seconds. 
Pour into a clean glass bottle with tight-fitting cork. (Use your empty wine bottles after they’ve been washed in the dishwasher).
Make 1 1/2 wine bottles, enough for sipping while making. Recipe doubles for more easily.

Keeps fresh for 30 days in the refrigerator.

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