Archive for December, 2007

Myles and Ben.

Check out our family blog to see a really cute video of Myles and Ben.


Happy New Year!


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Christmas in Africa


This was my fifth non-white (in several ways) humid and hot Christmas. After six years in South Africa, I think that I finally miss those blisteringly cold holiday moments. Although, there is something to be said for hanging out in the pool while looking at your Christmas tree! As I have posted before, the real holiday bummer is not the weather, but the absence of family. Ben and I have done very well at mustering up our own Christmas traditions and providing a framework of the holiday’s for Carlson generations to come, but it is currently absent of the one thing that makes the holiday’s special… family. Oh well, at least I can one-up the northern world by saying, “I was in my pool on Christmas! Beat that!”

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Camp’s Bay Beach

The truth about me is that I have a strange personality. On one end I love to organize things. Cupboards, books, days, events… you name it. On the other end, I resist anything that resembles structure or routine. So, I am writing this blog today only because my big brother reminded me that having a blog means actually updating it once in awhile.

Spending time in South Africa’s mother city, Cape Town, can renew a person’s hope in this continent. Ben and I just took Myles to Cape Town for two blissful weeks of holiday. We relaxed on stunning beaches with mountains as our backdrop, walked in what must be the most beautiful botanic gardens on earth, had lunch at vineyards while sipping their best vintages, and drank the best coffee roasted on this continent. If you are looking for a holiday that will renew your appreciation of the aesthetics, Cape Town is it! We enjoyed it so much that we didn’t want to leave, but now that we are back, it is so good to be home. After 6 years in Africa, Christmas is not Christmas unless it is a hot and sticky Durban one.

To most of you who read this, Christmas will be a snow-filled affair. It is at this time of the year that I wish I could be transported to a specific little spot in the northern hemisphere called “home” just for a day. To be with family at Christmas really is the greatest gift. I know that to some it feels like a curse, but just wait until there are oceans of space between you and the ones that call you daughter or sister or brother or son. South Africans know this, which is why every year we get at least 5 invitations to join our friends for Christmas with their families. Sometimes joining them helps to fill the space in my heart that only my family can fill, at other times it just makes me miss them more.

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They, them, those.

Thobe, Lou-Lou, S’the and myself

Here’s the truth, the blunt honest truth. South Africa is not in any way, shape or form “over” apartheid. The wake of segregation rolls steadily onto the shores of every South Africans’ mind and heart. South Africans get away with generalizations about each other that we would be beaten up for verbalizing in the States. I have had several white people ask me if my black friends were my employees. The concept of friendship across across racial walls is unfathomable for most. “Oh yes, THEY are so great with children, aren’t they?” “Why don’t you work a little more on influencing THEM with your culture, instead of trying to conform to THEIRS?” “I can guarantee you THOSE people can’t afford to be here.” “Oh, I’ll have my boy (who is a man of 40 with a family of his own) sort it out.”

Sometimes, like right now, it makes me want to scream and cry. Then I remember the amazing relationships that I have with women whose skin is a different color than mine. We are stronger because of our differences, and these are the women that empower and propel my life in so many ways. South Africa, like any democratic toddler, has its victorious moments, and even it’s victorious cities, but it is still a toddler… sometimes crawling, sometimes crying, sometimes standing and sometimes smiling. My decree to the “white” South Africa:

Until you can see fun, not fear, in our differences I will remain a mystery to you.

Until you can see everyone in a room, not just the white people, you will not understand me.

You will not see the real me until you can stand in the home of a black person and see an equal, not a cultural experience.

In the meantime just try to use “they” as a personal pronoun involving a few people, instead of as a broad generalization about an entire ethnic group.

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