24 December 2010 by Chris Marais

It’s Raining Santas In Graaff-Reinet!

I’d heard about Kroonvale from my mate David McNaughton, a Graaff-Reinet bookshop owner and tour guide. He told me they make madness with fairy lights and Santas every year in Acacia Street, and that they raise money for the local cancer association and Hospice.

So Jules and I go out there two days before Christmas, meet David and find this little street in a modest part of the Gem of the Karoo.

The Santas are in the street, the kids are hanging out on the kerb, the hip-hop music and the country music flows out from a dodgy yard setup and a happy DJ and everyone’s waiting for the Municipality to switch on the lights. When they do, Acacia Street at twilight is a thing to behold. Inky blue skies, red-streaked clouds and lights, oh man, lotsa lights.

We could be walking down a swanky street in Kowloon, Hong Kong, for all the neon on display. Cycling Santas, electric Charlie Chaplins, mamas, papas, kids, strollers and drivers, all shades of the nation, smiles.

Mama Santa (aka Jennifer Christians) is standing in the middle of Acacia Street, collection tin in hand. She stops the passing cars and rattles the tin at them - invariably with great success.

As the evening goes on, there’s a press of kids outside the main house. Inside, young women have been packaging up 500 gift packets of sweeties for the children. Much of this stuff has been donated by businesses in Graaff-Reinet.

These are not wealthy people. However, each year they go out and make money for cancer patients. Complete compassion. Open hearts.

The one constant thing about South Africa is that it will always surprise you…

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