Our Christmas last year was a relatively minimal affair. We didn’t do much beyond eat a supermarket mince pie before the 23rd. Instead, this time last year we were meeting penguins and flying in helicopters. Both amazing, but not especially festive. Christmas Day itself, was spent with kind and lovely friends; we ate turkey and pavlova, played in our new paddling pool and watched the Queen’s speech. The children didn’t get many presents, but they seemed pretty pleased all the same. There was no frantic shopping, no overwhelming number of commitments or piles of new stuff to find a home for. One might almost say it was relaxing.
This year is different. We’re knee deep in piano recitals, nativity plays, carol concerts and parties. We’ve food to buy, awkward parcels to wrap, rooms to decorate with greenery and sausage rolls to make. Definitely not relaxing.
As I sit here, damply typing after a sleety dog walk, the sunny days spent on Opunake beach seem very appealing. But. There’s nothing quite like listening to a small child singing carols in a candle lit church. Or a trip to the panto in a real theatre in a festively bedecked West End. Or walking home carrying a ginormous tree along with similarly burdened neighbours.
I’m not sure what we’ve brought back from our Kiwi Christmas other than happy memories, some jandal* tree decorations and a recipe for pavlova. It doesn’t currently feel as if we’ve held onto the simplicity that I so valued last year. But it’s good to be home.
*if you can’t remember what a jandal is, then I’ve failed in my attempts to educate you in the multifarious ways of referring to flip flops in faraway places.