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Christmas in Krugersdorp 1960

The festive season always causes my thoughts to return to Krugersdorp. For example, Easter brings me back to the Easter eggs, I loved so much as a child.

The fact that I was Jewish didn’t seem to matter. We enjoyed the best of both worlds the Christian and the Jewish. We were exempt from school on Jewish holidays and exempt from classes when the New Testament was being taught. but when Christmas came around I had no problem with learning the Christmas carols and going from house to house, in the neighborhood where I lived, singing Silent Night and Away in a manger and people gave us money and tasty things to eat.

I don’t have any recollection of church bells in Krugersdorp, pealing out at midnight, announcing the birth of Jesus, as they do in every city of the world that I know about. Could it be that I just wasn’t ever there, being in Cape Town for the Christmas holidays? I ask myself; “did people in Krugersdorp put models of manger scenes on the lawns in their front garden”? Perhaps they did and I just wasn’t there to enjoy the scene. I have the strange feeling that Krugersdorp was different, but not being there, the answer escapes me.

Cape Town was wild with merriment at Christmas time. We all wore Christmas hats and blew trumpets, made out of shiny red, blue and yellow paper tubes, rolled up, and when one blew on the mouth piece, making a raucous noise, the paper tube came shooting out like a vicious tongue. I longed for the more sedate celebrations of singing Christmas Carols in Krugersdorp.

Easter was definitely one of my favourite times and I was always in Krugersdorp. I remember wishing I had the money to buy Easter eggs in the shape of rabbits. They were filled with marshmallows. Some of them were enormous. I would stop at each of stores in town, like the OK Bazaars to gaze in wonderment at these giant bunnies made of chocolate, wrapped in red, white and blue silver paper.

Ma never gave me enough money to buy even one of them. Their price was beyond the price of rubies. Sadly, all I could afford was a penny for a chocolate covered marshmallow egg. I would try to stretch out the pleasure the egg afforded me by spending as much time as possible in making the decision which egg to purchase. Standing in front of the counter, I would meditate for ages, choosing the right color. All the while thinking that sooner or later I’d have to make my purchase and the delicious object would disappear into my gaping maw. Try as I might to make the stuff last forever, I realized, with disappointment that the exquisitely tasty goo would eventually come to an end and disappear and I’d have the job of finding another penny for more.

I walked to my Hebrew class, rolling the soft, spongy marshmallow eggs in my mouth, trying my best to make the delicious sugary chocolate taste last as long as possible. I was oblivious to the fact that I was Jewish and should not be celebrating the Christian feast of Easter. Jesus had been crucified and had risen from the dead and I was stuffing myself to death with bunny shaped, chocolate covered marshmallows in honour of the occasion.

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