The word ‘darkness’ has many idiomatic uses that usually lean towards the negative. Its most literal definition is the absence of light and in this, I think, lies its most positive inclination as we go into the holidays, although loadshedding-weary South Africans might disagree. According to EskomsePush, the loadshedding app that we have come to trust, by 8 December, we had 3233 hours of national loadshedding for the year. That comes to 135 days or more than four months of darkness. What can be positive about that?
Not a lot when it comes to the economy. Other than the inconvenience of a lack of electricity, business and production hours are affected and with the high fuel prices, even owning a generator is not the help it used to be. Electricity prices are on the rise (read more) and while our abundance of sunlight and wind should make solar and wind power obvious, technology is still so expensive that it puts them out of reach for most citizens. There seems to be a lot of politics and conspiracy theories and I am not going to get into any of that. There are other much more educated opinions on the subject. What I do know, however, is that if you must choose a time of year to have less electricity, summer holidays should be it. Here’s why:
- You’re not missing out on rugby. After this weekend’s Seven’s tournament in Cape Town, the 2022 rugby circuit is done and you won’t be missing any Springbok fixtures.
- Braai and slaai. Summer and holiday eating doesn’t require slaving away in a hot kitchen. You can braai almost anything and fresh sides and salads can be healthy and easy entertaining. Take the opportunity to work through everything in your fridge or freezer and eat the ice cream before it melts.
- When you can’t make coffee, drink wine!
- Less screen time is a given without electricity, so use this time to play games with the family, catch up on reading, to plan, think or just enjoy the quiet.
- Get out! With rumours about phase eight loadshedding, chances are that you won’t be able to finish that series in one go anyway. Visit a local restaurant that cooks on gas or walk the dogs – not as a chore but rather to explore.
- Phone running low? Perhaps that is a blessing in disguise. (But keep a battery pack for emergencies…)
- Does the heat bother you when the aircon is not working? When last have you relaxed in the shade of a tree? Enjoy how the evening cools down by sitting outside or open your windows at the break of the day so that the early morning freshness can come into your house.
- Does the garage door not open anymore? Walk or cycle. Save on expensive fuel, burn a few festive calories, wave to those on your way, and strike up a conversation – even if you have to kick it off by complaining about loadshedding…
- Candlelight is a good excuse to plan something romantic and soft lighting is very forgiving if the year has caused a few extra wrinkles.
- Festive gifts shouldn’t be a challenge this year. I’m sure everyone treasures a bottle of wine, but other than that, you know that a rechargeable light and flask to keep things hot or cold will definitely be useful.
There’s no denying that circumstances around electricity are dire. But let’s be a little less angry and anxious and at least, for the festive season, try to fret less over what we can’t control and rather roll with it – even if it is in the dark.