How to Enjoy a Sensible Christmas

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The Most Important Areas In Life

The following are regarded by psychologists and spiritual leaders as the utmost important aspects of our modern day lives. We simply cannot live and function properly without either one of them. Loosing anyone of these aspects will surely have a devastating impact. It becomes even more important during Christmas time to pause for a change and give our life and our very existence a thought.


Many of us have our moments within this chaos we sometimes find ourselves in, where we simply want to devote ourselves to a life of complete solitary. Other people can really be a bit much sometimes. Despite all that, us humans are sort of “gregarious animals”, if you will. We are not really designed to exist in solitary. We are meant to love and be loved, to interact. What better time than Christmas to rekindle our love for loved ones, family, friends and even passing strangers? Life happens, as the saying goes, and it is so easy to lose touch with ourselves and our loved ones. Although we should love and live every day as if it is Christmas or Valentines’ day for instance, this time of year might be just the reminder we needed. As we read in the Holy Bible, love is the biggest and most important of all.


The incidence of Melanoma in South Africa, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is taking on devastating proportions at the moment. Christmas time during the year-end summer holiday is synonymous with carefree relaxing times. Unfortunately we become more “relaxed” about sun protection and our health too. Then we all know someone allergic to bees and constantly finding themselves without their precautionary emergency medicines, right? We also tend to be less careful about how we handle and store food during this time where both the home- or holiday fridges are always too small. Usually Christmas goes hand-in-hand with family and friends getting together, lots of food, overindulgence, etc. Need I say more? Food poisoning, an upset tummy and sometime inevitable dehydration, rudely disrupted many a summer holiday. Good sensible planning beforehand and the necessary precautions can be of tremendous value. Yes of course we know this all too well, but in our human nature we all need a reminder from time to time.


Christmas can be a lot more expensive than we realize or intended. We want to spoil ourselves and our loved ones a little, right? We want to spread the love and joy. Then there are always the “obligation” gifts to those “infamous” persons at the Christmas get-together too. This can blow a huge hole in your Christmas bonus (for the ones who still get those these days) which was actually intended for all the beginning of the year school expenses. Just to start the new year depressed and in financial difficulty. There are too many insensible and “unwanted” gifts landing somewhere in a drawer too. Does any of this sound familiar at all? Fortunately our society recently developed a culture of handmade gifts again and the internet is swarming with ideas, especially for those less talented amongst us. And there is still enough time left too. The whole family can even be involved in the fun of gift making. Nothing quite “spreads the love and joy” like a personal gift made with care. How about making healthy organic beauty products for the ladies and girls such as foot balms and -soaks, tinted lip balms, bath salts and -“fizzies? Or gift jars of homemade mustard sauce and meat rub to accompany the Christmas ham. Gingerbread man cookies can become really fun Christmas tree decorations or a Christmas door wreath made of sweets as decoration. Let us plan and enjoy a carefree Christmas in a more sensible way, setting the scene for a wonderful and more carefree new year.


Mother’s Day – Let us honour the bravery of Mothers

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MOTHER’S DAY – Let us honour our brave Mothers

Yes! It is a good idea to set aside one day in the year to appreciate one group of society. Shower Mom with roses and take the tasks of everyday motherhood out of her hands, by all means. But there is much more to motherhood than the annual fluff that surrounds the day. The role of a mother encompasses the most rewarding, joyful moments of life. But it also means a life sentence: fear and worry for the beloved offspring, the inevitability of dashed dreams and the pain of disrespect after a lifetime of dedication to the child’s wellbeing.

“Haar naam is Eva

‘n vrou wat ‘n duisend drome in haar dra

‘n vrou wat gee sonder om te vra

‘n vrou soos my ma.”

(Emile Minnie)

Birth pains never stop

Tragedy has been built into motherhood from the dawn of consciousness. The cradle of humankind is in Africa, whence Homo Sapiens comes. All our ancestors originated in the womb of Mother Africa. We are all siblings under the skin.

Yet observe: We are creating artificial divides (nationality, religion, gender, doctrine, economic differences and goals) that justify the ill treatment of one group by another. Every girl that is abducted by a fanatic, every child that is strapped to a suicide bomb by a zealot, every Zimbabwean beaten up by a Zulu, every white farmer killed by a Sotho, every policeman shot by a criminal, every wife tortured by a husband, every Ukrainian dispossessed by a Russian, every teenager chased by a soldier, every dictator establishing his power by sowing suspicion amongst his people, and every Palestinian unable to support his family because the Israelis are contracting the walls around the ghetto, every Mexican student ‘vanished’ by drug cartels, every Chinese poet imprisoned by her own leaders, every Jew tortured by the Stasi and every prisoner on Robben Island carting stones….. each and every one, the victim and the perpetrator, has a mother.

For every suffering inflicted by one person on another, two mothers weep. 

The evolution of humankind

The evolution of Homo Sapiens into what we are today is a complex process by which we acquired not only the brain size and tools with which to contend with the challenges in our environment, but also the ability to cooperate with one another. This is possible because we communicate about natural phenomena that threaten us (lions, earthquakes, winter) or benefit us (warmth, food, water). But animals also do that. What distinguishes us from the animals is that we create common myths that are not related to reality as such, but get us to believe in certain things as a group: the dragon lives on the far side of the hill so do not go there, the Neanderthals will eat our babies so we should kill them, there is a benevolent deity that looks after us, the floods took away our wheat because we displeased the deity, the great spirit of the buffalo will send us meat and hides if we sacrifice the leader of Homo Erectus. Does it sound familiar? The terminology has changed but we still subscribe to such myths. That is how ethnic wars start and governments stay in power, religions control people and the rich manipulate the economy.

The Price

The price for the rapid growth of brain size together with the fact the humans were becoming more upright, was once again paid for by the mothers: head size increased and the hip width narrowed. Giving birth became a more difficult, painful, dangerous process.

Remember this when you applaud the oppression of one group by another, participate in xenophobic hatred, think rape is something a woman brings on herself or think for one moment that it is not the mothers in every area in the world where there is violence and war, earthquake and flood, that bear the brunt. A mother’s inability to keep her children safe and well is the ultimate sorrow. A mother that witnesses her child being cruel to somebody else is in hell.



Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.


What Easter is all about

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The Reason for Easter celebration

There are many contradictory beliefs regarding Easter and the celebration of it. Some say Easter is actually the European tradition of celebrating the coming of spring. From there the decoration of homes with flowers and cute little bunnies and painted chicken eggs. I must admit, that makes a whole lot more sense than bunnies and chocolate eggs to celebrate the death of Jesus on the cross and His victory over death by being resurrected.

Others are saying that Easter actually originated in ancient Babylonia 2,000 years before Christ. They were honoring the resurrection of their god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother or wife, Ishtar. The festival was named her, as Ishtar was actually pronounced “Easter” in ancient Semitic dialects.  A pagan festival then. That means nothing to me as a Christian, because my Bible does not refer to it and we know that Jesus was the only God to be resurrected from death and is therefor the only true living God.

The truth is that we are celebrating Easter although I have never read the word Easter or any translation of or referral to it in the Bible. But whatever we call it, how wrong can it be for a Christ follower to remember His awful death on a cross to pay the price for my sins, when He was sinless. Why was that necessary? So that I could be put right with God the Father and have ongoing forgiveness.

Also in gratitude we celebrate victory over death and evil brought about by the resurrection of Jesus. There is an empty tomb to prove it. And because the tomb is empty, we have a promise from Him that after this life, we’ll have everlasting life in His courts. Yes, everlasting life as in for ever and ever and ever more. Perhaps the chocolate eggs we eat, represents this new life after this old body has passed away. I don’t know for sure.

Whatever, I wish you a blessed celebration of forgiveness and everlasting life!

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Fun Things to do this Easter Holiday

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Fun Family Things to Do This Easter Holiday

Easter holiday is the perfect time to have a breather after the first three months of the year. And, because Good Friday and Family Day are public holidays, you can have a long weekend without having to worry about taking leave at work. Because the weather is still warm, you have a wide variety of activities to choose from to keep you busy this Easter.

Easter Holiday Family Time

The Easter holiday, and especially the Easter weekend, is a great time to catch up with friends and family. You and your family or friends can gather around the braai or simply relax over a meal. If you want to, you can also have an Easter egg hunt for the kids in the garden. If you don’t feel like doing the cooking yourself (or the weather isn’t playing along) you can always book a table at your favourite restaurant.

Have Some Time Away

Many hotels and lodges have great specials over the Easter holiday, making it a lot easier to afford some time away. You don’t necessarily have to go to the other side of the country to get away for a bit. Look for places that are just outside the city you live in; that way you can have a change of scenery without having to spend too much time stuck in the car. By not travelling too far, you also miss the annual mass exodus on South Africa’s roads over the Easter holidays.

Go on a Day Trip

Of course, you don’t need to go away on vacation to get out of the house. The popular Rand Show kicks off on the Easter weekend every year and offers entertainment for the whole family. If you’re looking for something to keep the kids busy over the holidays, look in your local paper or search online for outings aimed at school children. Besides going to the beach, parks or botanical gardens, you can treat the family to a day at a theme park. You can also opt for more educational entertainment like historical tours of your city or town or go to a museum. But, no matter what you do this Easter holiday, make sure you enjoy it!

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archaeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

Where does Valentine’s Day come from?

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Facts about Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day remains one of the most popular holidays and it is celebrated everywhere in the world. This is the day when everyone has the chance to reiterate to his or her loved one (or even an intended loved one!) that he or she is loved and cherished. But what are the origins of this happy and popular day?

There is no universal agreement regarding the origins of Valentine’s day. Some historians are of the opinion that it started off as a liturgical celebration for a number of early Christian saints that were named Valentine. The records are sketchy, however, to say the least.

The most popular account centres on Saint Valentine of Rome. He allegedly married Roman soldiers in secret prior to major battles. Of course, in those days Roman soldiers were not allowed to get married. Eventually, his secret acts landed him in jail. During his time in jail, he healed the daughter of his jailer, named Asterius, and fell helplessly in love with the girl. Just before he was executed, he wrote her a letter and signed off by saying “With love, from your Valentine.” And thus Valentine’s day was born.

To this day, Valentine’s day is formally celebrated by the Lutheran Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as an official religious holiday. However, it is two different Valentines that are honoured. In the first instance it is Saint Valentine the Roman presbyter and this day is celebrated on 6 July. The Orthodox Church celebrates the life of Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna. This day is celebrated on 30 July.

Of course, most of the world now celebrates the day as a day of romance and love. Modern celebrations originated in the high middle ages when Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle of friends became known for embracing the spirit of romance. They presented their lovers with a key, which was a symbolic invitation to unlock the heart of the giver.

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It’s not too late to make New Year’s resolutions

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New Year’s resolutions can still be made

Deciding on a new resolution to follow in your life should not simply be based on a specific date and you don’t need to have all your resolutions and goals finalised on 1 January. New resolutions can follow any change in your life, or be started to create change in your life. And, since you don’t know what will happen to you during the year, you might just find yourself starting on a batch of new resolutions in April, June, November or even December.

Resolutions are returnable

Sometimes swapping one resolution for another may be just the thing to get you going in the right direction. While resolutions may be difficult to keep to – for instance, when you change your diet – they are often easier to keep if you give yourself a bit of slack. Rather than make a resolution to lose 15 kg, make a resolution to lose 2 kg a month. Or perhaps you made the resolution to do an extra course and you were not accepted. Use the time you have to do a course online while you wait to apply again next year. Perhaps you’ll even find some hidden talents or a course better suited to your needs!

Ignore the naysayers

If you thought your life was heading from A to B and you suddenly find yourself sitting unhappily at J, making a resolution to change your life is the best thing you can do. While turning your life around or even making large changes is difficult, don’t let it be made more difficult by lending your ears to those mocking you for trying to change. You also don’t have to tell everyone what your resolutions are. Confide in those closest to you and those who support you. While you should listen to advice, you shouldn’t listen to those who simply want to break you down and want to see you fail. And if you want to start on a blank page today, do so. Just because the calendar doesn’t say “1 January”, doesn’t mean you can’t start out on a new adventure right now.

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archaeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

5 Awesome Plans for 2015

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5 Great Plans for South Africa in 2015

The new year has arrived. Many people are praying for a year that will be characterized by improvement. They want to see improvement in service delivery, improvement in crime prevention and improvement in our economy. The also want less. Less corruption, less job losses and less price increases. Most people do not have the power to achieve these goals, but there is much that can be done to improve life nevertheless. Here are 5 things everyone can do to help make 2015 a great year.

  1. Vote!

2015 is an election year and this time round we will be voting for our local government structures. Our municipalities are responsible for delivering those services that touch our lives on a day to day basis.  Remember that famous quote: “for evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing”? You cannot expect change if you do not participate in the process. So: resolve to register and  vote responsibly in 2015.

  1. Lend a helping hand!

 Resolve to become more active in your community in 2015. There is so much that you can do, even if you do not have money. Give of your time and skill. Encourage your family to join you in charitable causes. Not only will you contribute towards a better and more just society, but you will spend quality time with your family too.

  1. Learn a new skill in 2015!

Learning a new skill is one of the most rewarding undertakings you can tackle. It can give you new purpose in life, enhance your free time, increase your prospects at work and give you endless satisfaction. Personal growth, in any form, enhances your quality of life.

  1. Grow vegetables!

Food prices are soaring! Yet so few people make an effort to grow some of their own food. Starting a vegetable garden is easy and it is incredibly rewarding to eat food that you have grown yourself. Lack of space is simply not an excuse! A surprising number of vegetables can be grown in a very small space. They can even be grown in pots!

  1. Become greener!

Our environment is struggling to survive. Make an effort to become greener in 2015. It is easy to separate paper, glass, metal and organic waste. It is your duty as a citizen of planet earth to live responsibly and to recycle wherever you can.


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There’s something about the 2015 configuration   …

Why is it that some dates remain prominent in one’s psyche? I am a bit ambivalent about the esoteric significance of numbers. However, even as I write that sentence I think that sacred geometry is as old as human consciousness, that the symbolic messages carried by numbers are as universal as time, that figures denoting mathematical groupings are present in every culture under the sun and that numerology has been used to predict the future or ascertain the auspiciousness (or not) of certain dates, since humans have attempted to wrest meaning from their environment. It is difficult to know where science and history end, and where superstition begins, but does it even matter?

All children create patterns and pictures

Do you remember the counting rhymes from childhood?

                        One, two, buckle my shoe                     

Three, four, knock on the door

Five, six, pickup sticks

Seven, eight, lay them straight

Nine, ten, a big fat hen

Whether we admit to it or not, we all associate certain numbers with certain feelings, ideas and wishes. Go on! Tell me you do not have a favourite number! Often our preferences are completely arbitrary and subjective. Well … I LIKE 2015!

I could have done without some of the challenges I faced in 2014, it is true. I had no high hopes of it to begin with, and it certainly came down to expectations. Why I didn’t fancy it much, I cannot tell: Maybe it is merely because ‘four’ rhymes with ‘bore’ and I so dislike being bored. I never feel lonely unless I am stuck in boring company. (Mercifully a rare situation … I know really fabulous people!) The phonology of ‘fourteen’ does not ring for me. But “twenty – fifteen” has a spikiness, a pleasing staccato beat. I even like saying it: 2015! 

Who knows why?

Sometimes I like dates because they sound like counting: 1920 works well – fashions were cheeky and refreshing. I look forward to 2021. South Africans cannot say 2010 without hearing a vuvuzela soundtrack, and feeling retrospective pride in pulling off the World Cup Soccer hosting with utter aplomb. I even call out “Laduma!” when I read the date. (This happened to me on a train between Nice and Avignon in France, when the empty seat I aimed for had the number 2010 above it. People peered at me strangely and moved away – It was great: I had three seats and could stretch out in comfort. I carried on shouting “Laduma!” every now and then to secure my space. See how powerful a number can be? 2010 gifted me two free seats two years after its passing.)

Let’s make 2015 a great year. We cannot control what life brings to us, but we can control what we bring to life. I never give advice. (Oscar Wilde said that all advice was bad but that good advice was lethal). I do, however, strongly urge you to keep a sense of humor. 2015 will be great if you can. It is a combination of common sense and numerology that never fails. I have empirical proof of the matter.




Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway

Author: Suenel is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.


Christmas….crackers,carols and other crazy customs!

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Christmas Customs

Christmas time is here again – Should we celebrate or cerebrate?

Surely nobody still imagines that the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ child who was born in Bethlehem (not in his home village because of some political shenanigans), occurred anywhere close to the 25th December. Christmas celebrations evolved from pagan festivals to do with the solstices. Of course it does not matter! It is the spirit of the festival that matters! But what was the meaning of the incarnation of this child, a birth that was heralded by no less than a new star in the heavens?

More than one child has thought that the Christ was a relentless Little Drummer Boy:  if shopping mall soundtracks are one’s reference, it is not surprising. “Pa-ram-pa-pa-pam!” (Whether Boney M’s disco rendition of Silent Night creates universal goodwill or a shopping frenzy is a moot point) Or that that funny guy in a red polyester suit and cotton wool beard comes from Bethlehem. (By the way, it is decidedly not all right for little children to be expected to sit on his lap!) Or that the veritable explosion of reindeer and fake snow is typical in the Holy Land. (Which, let’s face it, is in utter turmoil with violence and lack of religious tolerance ruling the day). Or that the Three Wise Men from the east looked rather disappointed at the ignominious setting. (They were, after all kings and scholars and now had to re-think all their previous insights)


Let’s not get caught up in factual matters of chronology and geography. Let us remember what the Christ child symbolises:

Unconditional Love!

One can be forgiven for thinking He came in vain. Never has the world been less at peace as we approach the season of Goodwill and Universal Harmony.  Hostilities flourish whichever way one turns: Racial strife in the United States of America, brutality towards women from East to west and North to South, oppression in Hong Kong, wholesale murder justified on religious grounds from Africa to Iraq, conflict in Egypt and destruction in Aleppo. The international organisation Genocide Watch has placed South Africa at stage 6 of white genocide, and claim that a coordinated campaign to exterminate whites is afoot, as indicated by the cruelty of the farm attacks, and the ethnic identification of the target group and normalization of hatred as institutionalised by the leaders in power: At the ANC 100th anniversary President Zuma sang “Dubula iBhuni” – Shoot the Boer. His trade mark song, “Umchini Wam” advocates violence.

Unemployment and lack of service delivery means a Christmas without clean water – never mind a fancy roast and presents wrapped and beribboned.  According to it is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has more chance of being raped that learning to read.

So much for Madiba’s dream of a non-racial/ non-discriminatory society! So much for our constitution!

And so much for the Christmas Spirit!

Being caught without Insurance cover will surely dampen your spirit!

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speechwriter, translator, editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.



Are you ready for BLACK FRIDAY?

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Black Friday Update

Are you ready? Latest shopping traffic update: Festive season is around the corner and what better way to get the plastic melting than by kicking off the “Shopping” seasons with Black Friday.

Traditionally black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. Retailers are announcing specials in advance, with shop front displays bigger and better than ever. Even online shops are gearing up for increased shopping traffic. The general American public flock to the major retailers for unbeatable specials on major retail items. Dedicated shoppers are known to camp out in front of major retail stores to be the first in line to get hold of those special offers. Black Friday has become known for the smell of credit cards melting and ardent shoppers fighting, pulling and pushing each other for that illustrious sale item. Black Friday is the ultimate showcase for the latest products and sets the shopping tone for the festive season. This is the ideal way to stock up on Christmas gifts for that someone special!

In South Africa the trend is not far off from the US market, with even our local online stores offering Black Friday deals. Retails stores in general look at the festive season as one of the most profitable periods that contributes millions of Rands into a weakening economy. This remains the time of year where consumers spoil themselves and those they hold dear, by throwing financial caution to the wind. Whether you have saved diligently or just reverting back to the good old faithful credit card, Black Friday deals are the best way to stretch the festive season budget. So start your holiday shopping now by looking out for Black Friday deals on online shops such as eBay, and even

Shop Shop Shop, click click click is what the retailers want to hear so if your neighbour is shouting out loud he might have gotten the deal of a lifetime.

Happy shopping and enjoy the holidays!



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What is BLACK FRIDAY all about?