Hi, my name is James and I’m a Boxing Day-aholic.
Things get a little weird from around the 27th until the 29th but 26 December, aka Boxing Day, is undoubtedly one of the most underrated days of any year. A typical Boxing Day in my parents’ Karoo house involves leftover Christmas lunch, second lunch, sport, swimming and as much sunshine as there is on offer. This year I’ll also take some new Christmas gifts for a spin.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”Oscar Wilde
Here’s a wrap of how 2020 went down.
Boxing Day 2020 in a nutshell
- Coffee duty & breakfast
- Putting hats on the cat
- Panzanella for lunch
- Boxing Day sport
- Making tracks
Coffee duty & Eggs Benedict for breakfast
If there’s a family member that might have overdone it the day before, I’m usually up around 6 am most days and on coffee duty to help soothe the pain. A Moka pot gets wheeled out for the more discerning drinkers and then a plunger to please the masses that just need to get some caffeine into them. If anyone wants something a bit stronger, like a Bloody Mary, they can make it themselves.
For breakfast, nothing but the best will do on Boxing Day. My father fashions a pretty mean Eggs Benedict, poaching the eggs to perfection and crisping up some Real Food Company (providers of some damn fine charcuterie) bacon that curls and spits in the pan within a minute. That’s how you know it’s legit.
Eggs Benedict is rich and satisfying but it strikes a sensational balance, containing all of the things I want in a hearty breakfast. This version, admittedly, makes use of plain toast instead of an English muffin but I’m not really all that fussed.
Putting hats on the cat
What’s more photogenic than a cat, and what’s more fun than annoying your cat by putting hats on him and documenting the experience? The next best thing is to just superimpose emojis onto old pictures if your feline friend isn’t cooperating, and then you can “please” your followers with the resulting images. What else do people do on Boxing Day but eat and scroll through Instagram anyway?
Here’s a family friend’s dog on Boxing Day last year, clearly not happy with only wearing the antlers on Christmas Day. Rumour has it that he’ll be busting them out again this year.
Panzanella for lunch
It doesn’t get much more summery than a full-on-flavour Panzanella and a side of langoustines for good measure. That is the type of privilege to which I am privy when around my Dad, a guy who’s obsessed with feeding people and making them happy as a result. Panzanella is a superb lunch meal because it utilizes a lot of bits and bobs from the fridge and slightly stale bread that might have otherwise been thrown away. Accompanying it with langoustines is overkill but that’s the holiday season for you. And if it’s not Panzanella, it’ll be some other type of summery salad or even a tomato & watermelon soup if the temperatures start to resemble cricket scores.
Panzanella is satisfying enough to hold its own as a main course, and making an industrial quantity of it is usually a good idea because of its moreish umami flavour. Keep picking away until it’s done. We also managed to make a potjie for dinner last year, believe it or not. It’s probably the most I’ve ever eaten on any Boxing Day, and that’s saying a lot.
Boxing Day sport
This is non-negotiable and, by now, my family is well-aware of the importance of December 26th in the Premier League football calendar, and it’s also traditionally a huge day for South African cricket. Arguments over which channel to watch died down in roughly 2016, probably out of exhaustion and boredom on their part. NikNaks, biltong, charcuterie and coffee are all integral to this process, as is my Dad falling asleep and snoring on the couch. Let’s see how he manages the occasion this year.
This year I’ve taken Sol’s Foods hampers with me, Easy Eats is specially tailored for sport by the way, because watching my favourite football team is an emotional experience and salty snacks are the perfect partner for a nerve-wracking 90 minutes of action. It’s also time to give my dad a break from making all the food, wouldn’t you agree?
My Dad (shame, this is now his fourth or fifth mention in this blog) takes great pride in his swimming pool which provides some much-needed respite from the Karoo heat. I don’t have the patience for lilos, the high-octane experience of swimming laps is more my thing, but to each, their own and we’ve had some decorative pool items do the rounds in the past. Last year, my crew and I made a little expedition to the Meiringspoort waterfall and it was obviously worth the thirty-minute drive. Jumping off rocks into cold water will never get old.
Someone has to do it and that someone is usually me. Striking a healthy balance between new tracks and classic oldies isn’t the easiest task, but it’s a fun challenge that I’m willing to confront and conquer. What are your go-to artists that appease all members of the family?
Boxing Day is strange because it’s simultaneously the laziest day of the year but, clearly, it’s also quite action-packed if my 2020 edition was anything to go by. How does that work? Anyway, the golden threads connecting all of these activities are family, food and festivity. Without these three things, Boxing Day wouldn’t be the restorative and relaxing 24 hours that it is year on year. What are your Boxing Day traditions?