Once upon a dream

Celebrations big and small mark the magic we make in the world

Woman&Home SA, December 2021

This is the fantasy: A lush garden party on a warm summer’s evening, with nothing but the full moon, fire pits and candles for light. Maybe some fairy lights and colourful lanterns strung between trees. Over there, in the amphitheatre of flowering Syringas, a dance floor where the DJ starts off slow with a Café del Mar-type playlist but will later bust out with hits from The Jackson Five and The Doors. For the hungry, tables laden with the finest dishes and servers in tuxedo-tutus offering silver trays of delicate appetisers and flutes of Champagne. There in the clearing, are fire jugglers and acrobats mesmerising the children; over there underneath the giant oak, a magician entrancing the easily fooled (me); and there on a stand in the middle of the pond, dancers performing a fantastical rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

All around me, my nearest and dearest (and their nearest and dearest because I simply don’t know enough people) mingling and laughing, dancing and feasting, lying about on cushions and throws of sumptuous materials telling stories and sharing grand ideas about life, the universe and their latest Netflix thrill. The scent of flowers fills the balmy air. Someone is blowing bubbles that drift up slowly to the night sky. After dessert, I call everyone to raise their glasses so that we might toast the most marvellous of all marvels: life and love and friendship. At midnight: fireworks so dazzling and extraordinary it feels like a tribute to Disney. And then more dancing until we all collapse in a contented heap under the stars or get whisked away in luxury automobiles to the luxury hotel rooms waiting for us.

This is a celebration I’ve long held as a one of my more magnanimous fantasies. And it could totally happen. All I’d need would be a few million Rands (flying some of those people back to the country is serious ching ching), the social connections to hit up my friends with the perfect house or hotel or just Kirstenbosch itself, and an event-planning committee I can trust to get the job done to my exacting specifications (ha!).

Oh, and the ability to control the weather. No biggie.

Sigh. A girl can dream. It is the holiday season after all, and if Christmas movies have taught me anything it’s that miracles can happen and dreams really do come true.

But even if a few million ZARs just fell into my lap now and I could be guaranteed a windless summer in Cape Town, the nuts and bolts of planning that sort of event would exhaust me before I’d even picked up my pen to make my first listicle. Organising big festivities isn’t for the faint-hearted. Just ask anyone who’s had to plan their own wedding or mega birthday party. Hell, I struggle with arranging family lunches.

And yet, I love a bit of a fuss. The marking of occasions both big and small is such an ancient part of humanity it’s impossible to ignore the impulse. The act of turning one’s attention to the joyful and recognising it as important is not only a way of elevating the moment but elevating our experience of ourselves in it. Like giving a child a gold star for writing the word ‘cat’, it can turn a simple win into the sublime.

Luckily for me, celebration doesn’t have to wait for big-ticket events to be valuable. There’s something transformative about it even for the most average day. It’s why I believe in always having a bottle of bubbly in the fridge and sparklers in the kitchen drawer. You never know what triumphs of the day will claim acknowledgement and what delights crave attention.

Still, although I love a low-stress celebration, I must admit that my fantasy party has a hold on my heart now that demands realisation. An event so astonishing and grand, so full of twinkle and magic, it’ll come close to articulating my love for my tribe.

So maybe I’ll set a goal for it this coming year, a manifestation of sorts that will see it all come together – the location, the events planner, the surprise trust fund and, of course, the real miracle: a guaranteed perfectly windless, perfectly cool Cape evening.

If dreams really do come true, why not this one?

Photo: Erwin Hesry