Merry Christmas Eve…Last night, we never took a single photo during a fabulous evening in the bush….

After spending an hour looking for a suitable Christmas Eve graphic, I gave up. I decided to post this favorite lion photo we took in 2013 in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, truly indicative of the life we live now with lions in Marloth Park and at our doorstep, Kruger National Park. For that post, please click here.

It’s gotten to a point where one can no longer easily find appropriate graphics without paying or signing up for some arbitrary “free trial.” After trying to find a Christmas world graphic suitable for our post, I gave up after a valiant effort, and I decided to post our photo to avoid paying royalties, choosing the above lion shot we’ve shared many times in the past. Sorry for the repetition.

It’s nearly impossible not to be repetitive when we’ve been posting daily for over ten years. This is our 11th Christmas since we left the US in 2012, the 4th Christmas we’ve spent in Marloth Park. Last night, at Jabula, celebrating Tom’s 70th birthday, amid endless toasts and rounds of merriment at the packed bar with every seat taken, with dear friends Louise and Danie at our side with Dawn and Leon joining it, it couldn’t have been more fun.

Being so close to Christmas, Tom’s birthday was somewhat of an inconvenience in our old lives. We’d often make elaborate plans to acknowledge his birthday, but with Christmas Eve the next day, we were always on a mad dash to roll into the holiday from the birthday celebrations.

Oddly, in our old neighborhood, every other house of five on the peninsula celebrated its birthday on the exact same date, December 23. It was our dear friend Chip, the furthest away, Doug in the middle, and Tom. How odd was that? We’d often celebrate together when we could. We are still in touch with our old neighbors, missing the merriment and celebrations over the Christmas season and also throughout the year.

We lost dear Chip a few months before we left in 2012 to begin our travels, and I had the honor of speaking at his memorial service only months before we were ready to depart. It was a sorrowful time. And now, looking back over the Christmases, the fun with our kids, grandkids, friends, and neighbors, it was an extraordinary time.

But, no, we have no regrets and don’t think of those times with sadness and sorrow. Instead, like last night, celebrating Tom’s 70th birthday, we were reminded of how fortunate we were then and…how fortunate we are now. Different? Yes. But, wonderful nonetheless.

While we sat at the bar, all of us talking at once and yet hearing every word spoken, I turned to Louise at my left and said, “There is nowhere in the world where we’d have made so many friends and enjoyed such camaraderie and lively conversation at a bar.” Although she and Danie are native South Africans, they are well aware of the magic of all these friendships and their special meanings.

Then, adding the cozy element of being in Marloth Park, a true Paradise on earth, and the commonality we all share with our love of nature and wildlife, it’s a combination unlike any to be found anywhere in the world.

No, we don’t have a Christmas tree or other decorations or the countless gifts under the tree. No, we don’t send out Christmas cards or even Christmas letters. After all, our daily posts contain everything we could possibly have to say about our lives. We leave no stone unturned. You, our treasured readers, know everything about us, almost down to our shoe sizes!

People often ask how we feel about being vulnerable and open about our flaws, foibles, and never-ending errors and mishaps. Yes, that includes some whining and complaining, some health issues, and some unavoidable repetition in both words and photos. What would be the point of our posts being fictional instead of the often harsh reality? We are fine with bearing our true feeling, thoughts and dreams.

As we wrap up today’s post, we want to wish every one of our friends/readers and their families, who celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and many more (found on this site) a meaningful and memorable holiday season.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2021:

Christmas graphic we posted last year. For the story, please click here.