Linda’s recipe for a Merry Christmas, just add family, laughter and love
At home in Winston Park, she shares her secrets to living a minimalistic life, the heartache of divorce and the joys of mad family gatherings with us.
Known back then as Linda Phillips, her journey from a shy, soft-spoken girl to a confident, warm, strong-willed mother and entrepreneur has a lot to do with her 1981 role as Miss South Africa. “I’m ADHD I tell you, can never sit still. It’s just me.”
Dressed in her best apron and favourite pumps, Linda’s busy in the kitchen with an old family Christmas cake recipe, snacking on handfuls of candied fruit mix and laughing as she reminisces about the past.
“I love Christmas but I adore my family to death. My clan is absolutely crazy – it’s like a big, mad, Italian gathering when we’re all together. There’s never a dull moment and there’s a lot of love that goes around. We have the most amazing time together.”
Paging through her photo albums, it’s evident that laughter isn’t missing from a single frame. But, it hasn’t always been an easy road for Linda, and Christmases without her son, Luke, and daughter Chelsea, are the worst.
“Marriages rarely die overnight. Almost always, the destruction happens little by little, over time. My divorce has made it harder for us to be together all the time, but I guess with everything in life, we cope and make the best of what we have at the time. I found love again with my boyfriend, Clive Dalton; I am grateful for the amicable relationship I have with my ex and I couldn’t be more proud of my two beautiful kids – they are everything to me.”
Between playing around in the kitchen and preparing for the holidays, Linda keeps herself occupied by hauling out her favourite Kenny G – Miracles: The Holiday Album, along with boxes of festive décor and Santa Claus hats that always bring to mind Christmas money puddings, roast turkey on the Weber, home-dressed gammon, veggie bake and stuffing – lots of it!
“Lunch is always the intention, but by the time the whole crowd actually arrives it’s almost dinner time so we just carry on regardless. I tried to do a pavlova one year, but my father hated it, so these days we just stick to tradition. Oh and there’s lots of champagne and wine to celebrate with. I also love Tequila, although that usually comes out on Christmas Eve when we wrap our gifts.”
Christmas is spent either at Linda’s or at her sister’s home in St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape. Tragically, this gorgeous gathering ground was destroyed in the fire that spread across the area just a few weeks ago.
“To think we spent countless holidays surfing, walking on the beach, cycling, booze cruising on the canals and having the best of fun – memories that will never be forgotten. The amazing thing about Christmas though, is that it always brings with it miracles, and my sister’s friend has given her a beautiful house on the canals to stay in until such time as their home is rebuilt, so it’s Christmas as usual, and it will be good because we have each other.”
A lot of effort goes into home-made Christmas decorations every year and in Linda’s home there’s no shortage of space to hang them up.
“I love making things, sewing, decorating. Apart from the outside paint job on the house and the wacky Taj Mahal tiles, the furnishings are mine. I love a classical style, no frills, just minimalistic and gorgeous – everything in moderation.”
Her favourite space at home is the verandah, for the view and the fresh air. Breakfast outdoors is a regular affair.“I love eating out there and on warm nights, it’s a tranquil environment for book club with girl friends or a quiet glass of white wine.”
She’s very comfortable in the kitchen and can never get enough of experimenting with new ideas. “The kitchen is the heart of any home. I indulge in any creative cooking that I can. Clive says I can make anything out of nothing so I’m chuffed. I’m by no means an avid gardener, but I do have a little herb garden going, with thyme, rosemary, origanum, rocket and spring onion. I use these whenever I cook.”
And talking about food, in a Christmas fantasy land, Linda says she’d love nothing more than to knock up a delightful Christmas meal for fantasy novel hero, Christian Gray. “What a moreish fantasy, LOL! Realistically speaking though, I’d love nothing more than to sit down to a nice warm dinner with my late dad.”
In her Christmas stocking she says wishfully, she’d like a new car, a trip to Egypt, a holiday on a remote island, or even a diamond ring, but, she’s quick to point out, she’s not really a material girl – gifts of the sentimental kind are what she prefers.
“Something practical like a hair iron would be good, because mine blew up the other day. I have to say my daughter gives the most awesome gifts, but honestly, it’s not about the gifts. The real important stuff involves enjoying life. I’ve got no New Year’s resolutions because I break them all anyway! I’m looking forward to a great year ahead because we’re moving house, my son finishes matric, my daughter moves to Cape Town which means holidays in the Mother City and, as for Christmas, I know it’s going to be just perfect. All it needs is a sunny day with a cool breeze, music, water, the scent of rosemary on a roast and family.”
Durban Get It Magazine Nobember 2018Kajal Maharaj : Soapie Star