The aftermath of the festive season left me with a better understanding as to why my grandmother, aged 94, has not smiled in a family photograph for the past few decades. Don't get me wrong, I am indeed blessed with a grandma that sets the example of having a zest for life and an unsinkable spirit.
This caused me to wonder. And one day, showing her a photograph taken at a family gathering, I asked her, with the caution and respect due to a matriarch, why she is the only person in the photograph not visibly saying "cheese".
"It is because I look too wrinkled when I smile."
My immediate thought was to quote the line, "Vanity, woman is thy name." But nonetheless, grandma's statement was duly noted, especially after I browsed this December's archive of pictures of my own holiday making.
Family shots over Christmas have me looking like a bit of a middle-aged tannie next to my youthful cousins. Seaside pics look everything but sun kissed.
In a rather unflattering over-sized T-shirt and a broad-rimmed hat that has known better days, framing my blotchy face obviously showing the absence of any make up, I reminded myself of the horrendous Boogy Man-like character in Afrikaans folklore, Antjie Somers.
Despite the fact that vanity is most certainly not among my flaws (I thought), I found myself carefully monitoring the images shared on social media depicting my summer holiday. And as for social media, although not known to be much of a herd animal, I felt the urge to show everyone interested in lamenting about the bad economy, that "being stuck" in Mossel Bay and surrounds during the summer holiday, is indeed privilege enough.
My holiday meanderings included farming. Watching the placid Jersey cows lining up at the dairy, deeply inhaling the smell of cow dung, I recalled happy memories from my childhood.
"Do you see those lines on the cows? The ones that look like fatty wrinkles? Those are called happy lines," says my friend, a very capable dairy farmer. "If the cows don't have those, you know they are not in good condition."
Happy lines, I learnt thanks to Google, resemble veins and appear to the bottom of the rib cage and run in opposite angles to the rib bones. The presence of these lines equals happy, healthy well-fed cows producing great-tasting milk.
Returning to my holiday pics, I reconsidered the lines on my face. Most of them, I noticed, present themselves when I smile. So, I figured, they must then be happy lines. And if I have those, like any happy cow, I must be able to produce great things.
So there! My wish to all of you, embarking on this unknown journey called 2019, is: may your happy lines fall in all the right places.
PS: Here's a late new year's resolution for you. Instead of counting cows on your next road trip, you might try counting happy lines. You could of course also do the same with the people you meet.