Christmas Lights

The Johannesburg of my youth was a fascinating place to be at Christmas time because the city centre was transformed by the City Council and Department stores into a night time wonderland of twinkling lights, window displays and giant, decorated Christmas trees. Hundreds of families would descend on the city after dark to stroll along Eloff, Rissik and President Streets and because traffic was light it was safe to walk arm in arm in the middle of the road. The summer weather would be balmy with star filled skies above, except, of course if there happened to be a sudden thunder storm. These rarely lasted very long so you simply took cover until the rain stopped and the stars came out again and then you continued your tour of the displays.

While the Christmas and Nativity scenes in the department stores were very attractive it was to Joubert (pronounced jewbear) park that everyone made their way because there the City Council pulled out all the stops and created the most magnificent fairytale wonderland imaginable.

Folks would buy big bunny balloons for the kids and ice creams and candy floss for everyone then stroll at their leisure through the park staring in wonderment at the displays.

Christmas Lights

 The City’s all dressed up for Christmas
The streets are ablaze with bright lights
Families stroll hand in hand on the main streets
Wide eyed at the Yuletide delights
Shop windows with scenes of the North Pole
Mock snow renders everything white
And the heat of an African summer
Detracts not one jot from the sight
Santa’s workshop is busy as usual
With industrious elves making toys
For the girls doll’s houses and cradles
Wood blocks and wagons for boys
In their parlour sit Santa and Mrs Claus
Before a cheerful log fire gently rocking
Soon he’ll leave on his annual journey
To fill many a child’s Christmas stocking
Outside stands the sleigh quietly waiting
To be drawn at great speed I suppose
By the reindeer team led by Rudolph
The one with the shiny red nose
Street lights and store windows are pretty
But the best place to see after dark
Is the glittering world of the fairies
That each year transforms Joubert Park
No doubt the right place for enchantment
Every turn holds a brand new surprise
And we marvel at the storybook pageant
Brought to life under Johannesburg skies
Cinderella’s busy sweeping the kitchen
While her step-sisters prepare for the ball
And Humpty sits wobbling precariously
Surveying the Kings men from his wall
Snow white waves goodbye to the seven
As they march off to work in the mine
While the hatter runs ‘round in a frenzy
Double checking his watch for the time
In contrast mother goose reads a story
To a group that includes Little Boy Blue
And a dozen or more of the offspring
Of the woman who lives in a shoe
But the favourite display without question
Is the tableau of First Christmas night
With the infant asleep in the manger
Soft lit by the East Star so bright
An ox and an ass look on quietly
At father Joseph and mother Mary serene
While Three Kings bearing gifts for the Baby
Complete this timeless nativity scene
For a month ‘til twelfth night each summer
Noël lights shine bright as many a jewel
Then fade but leave not without promise
To return again for our pleasure next Yule

One comment on “Christmas Lights

  1. Margi says:

    Such a wonderful poem Terry. Reminds me of the times we visited Joubert Park and it was a beautiful experience no matter how many times you went. Those were the days…..

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