Father’s Day with the “Afstammelinge”
A few years ago, I created a whatsapp group for my dad, his children and our spouses, and the name “Afstammelinge” stuck, since he’s more Afrikaans than he is English. Father’s days are for Han and his squad – the Afstammelinge. Calling him “Han” (from his name: Hans) and my mom “Amal” (Anne-Marie) (like my firstborn, Evan, did when he could barely speak) is also another thing we do differently: they aren’t “Grandpa” or “Gyamma/Oumie”.
The consolidated version of my parents, also coined by Evan, is HANAMAL. They are one entity! But, boy, oh boy, do these commemorative days test their oneness!
Father’s Days, like many other special days, centre around food in my parents’ home. We discuss the menu or what we will be eating long before we know where we will be eating, what gifts we will be giving, or even where, if anywhere, we’ll be going. Or we stress about booking for a sit-down meal and don’t, so we have to cook at home.
A team effort is what works best for these largesse days.
Breakfast happens at home for the subunits of the Afstammelinge. Every mama makes her baby dzaddy a breakfast fit for a king – the entire Farmhouse calls for mercy! Eggs topped with cheese, bacon, boerewors, varkwors, alle wors. Daddas find animals tasty. I walk over to my folks’ house to do that for my dad.
Often, my mom takes charge of gifts: all the daddas (her husband and sons-in-law) get the same gifts, and there is much scrambling about and secret Whatsapps or whispered conversations for finding out those sizes a day or two before (AND THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR, DESPITE THEIR SIZES STAYING MOSTLY CONSTANT). “Jou pa hou tog nie van geskenke nie!”. Oh, but he does.
My dad takes out the meat he wants to prepare the night before Father’s Day, just like on any other Sunday. I take charge of the lunchtime menu but shine with sides and main dishes (often roasts, which is what my dad loves cooking, too, so he helps there). My sisters do starters and desserts and my mom stilllllll finds it surprising but intensely annoying that my dad says “Anmirrie maak tog groenslaai” as soon as all the dishes are heated through.
We cook the sides or dishes at home and then go over to my parent’s house. The dads get to lounge around while we sort out the last bits of cooking. There’s a lot of meat involved (why are our people like this…?) and we usually make a sangria or any other spiked punch everyone over 18 can enjoy. All day long the kids are bouncing off the walls since they snack on everything under the sun because we are at Hanamal’s house – terms and conditions in parental homes do not apply. After lunch – which is very meaty and not always as starchy as I would like it – we play dominoes or Monopoly (pronounced “mo no po lee” by Evan) and chat. My dad’s nearly empty plate is in the microwave, as is the custom, and he is in bed napping. My mom says it’s not good manners but it happens in the same way on every other Sunday, so let us allow everyone their place under the sun! Which she does, in any case. He wakes up from his nap and goes straight for dessert (as we all do), and ends the day on a sweet note, followed by a long, slightly disorganised and chaotic goodbye to the grandkids (number 1 priority, and in tears at this stage, not wanting to go home) and the rest of us folks, the ones who are the reason he is a Father and a Han.
Over the last few years, and especially with how I’ve decided to refocus my energy on being the best version of myself so my children don’t remember a frantic (and often, unbathed) mother on these days, I’ve taken it easy with thinking I need to cook everything and do a lot of prep work the day before. I’ve reconstructed Father’s Day from being a running-around-cooking-‘til-you-drop-and-look-like-a-banshee day to a day to spend quality time with my family, appreciate and enjoy and appreciate them while they are here. Try it, have fun with your loved ones and cherish memories and traditions made.
I promise it’s worth it.