For many, the festive season is about making memories with family, enjoying meals together and spending quality time with your better half.
But when you add load shedding into the mix, Eskom either becomes the Scrooge that steals everyone’s festive cheer or acts as the perfect excuse to be creative, as South Africans do best.
This became clear when News24 asked readers to share how load shedding affected them this week.
Losing food in the fridge and freezer, especially saved for Christmas, was a touchy subject.
Kevin Meyer said they lost their food after being without power for almost 14 hours.
“This is the worst. We have to throw our Christmas meat away.”
Stokvel at stake
Someone shared their concern at their mother’s stokvel being at stake.
“She joins stokvels every year to see us through the holiday season. She got her money after a long year’s hard work and now she is worried about her meat. She got two sheep and they don’t freeze because you know … if her meat goes bad, she won’t have meat for the whole festive season.”
Peter, who was visiting the country, said he had to throw away most of the food in his fridge as there had been no electricity in Greenside, Johannesburg, for 36 hours.
“I don’t even try to explain this overseas…”
Olga Smith, a pensioner from Mitchells Plain, said her son kindly took her grocery shopping for Christmas only for it to spoil when the power went out.
“My milk, meat in the freezer, and food that I store in bowls to eat from for three days, went off after double load shedding in a day.”
Smith said she could not expect her son to repeat his gesture as he also had a family to look after.
Finding each other in the dark
Some families were finding each other in the dark.
Eugene Makwena, who has three small boys, said load shedding meant no more favourite TV programmes and Xbox games.
“[But] we spend load shedding as reading time, they just love it.”
Ammaarah, 19, said her family was now forced to find an alternative to sitting and focusing on technology.
“Because of this, my siblings and I started bonding more, playing board games and even found joy in simple things like boiling water over a fire for a cup of coffee,” she added.
“Even though it can be a bit of an inconvenience, load shedding has given us time to bond with each other and get a lot of things done. Honestly, my holiday so far has been productive and fun so far because load shedding stops me from wasting time on my phone and doing nothing all day because of that.”
Romance in a time of load shedding could also be the title of a book, based on some readers’ comments and experiences.
Sarah, who is in a long-distance relationship with her partner in the US, said they only had two hours a day to talk because of work hours and time differences.
“I am unable to talk and spend time with my partner as the power always goes off right as they get home from work. By no means is this the biggest problem, but it sucks!”
Petri said when she picked up her partner from the airport after not seeing her in six months, she immediately downloaded the load shedding schedule app to manage their romantic plans in the short 10 days they had together.
“I looked at stage 4 thinking we were lucky to at least not be there yet … SURPRISE! Stage 6 hit us last night, out of the blue, while having dinner,” she shared.
Petri said they were lucky enough to be able to enjoy each other’s company and joke about the situation.
“She even said she felt like this whole scenario is true to South Africa, and that it made her feel welcome again, since she is a European citizen.”
Not ready to be single again
One woman said: “If I lose my man, Eskom better come up with a plan because I’m not ready to be single again. Bloody electricity takes the network with it making it hard for me to track him.”
It was not entirely clear whether some people were joking or being serious.
A man commented: “I had to talk to my wife and actually find out that she is quite charming. Apparently, we have two children and the dog I keep finding in the front yard is also ours.”
One woman said: “My bf [boyfriend] didn’t come home he said he got lost in the dark. Came back this morning.”
And the cherry on top?
“My wife left me for a man with a generator,” quipped one user.