This will be the fourth Christmas we will spend in New Zealand and for the first time the beautiful calm sunny days are actually making me feel festive! I have been watching my favourite old snowy Christmas films and have been listening to Bing Crosby singing about a white Christmas since October, but the warmth and the sunshine are also making me feel Christmassy and reflect on what Christmas means to me.
I have no idea what we will be eating this year. Each year The Christmas Dinner just isn’t quite right – cold food doesn’t seem festive enough and a hot turkey lunch is not ideal in our house without air conditioning either ( plus I’m vegetarian and nobody else really likes turkey…). I also don’t know yet what our plans for the day itself will be- Rich will probably be on call as so many of his colleagues go away or have family come and visit so he ends up volunteering to cover. What I do know is that although it will be different to the Christmases I had growing up, this Christmas won’t be any less special. We will still spend time with our families through the wonder that is skype and our girls will be able to to give their grandparents a tour of their gifts, just like I used to do every Christmas. We will watch the Muppets Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve and be sure to eat big wedges of stollen. I am also sure we will end up going for a walk on Christmas afternoon as was the norm when I was growing up and although the scenery will be very different, the objective will be the same- exercise to make room for more chocolate!
It is easy to forget in this time of festivity that it doesn’t really matter what we eat, what we do or what we buy. There is pressure to make Christmas picture perfect, to make sure our children have huge piles of gifts under the tree and to put on a big jolly Christmas show, but instead perhaps try to see Christmas as a time of thanksgiving – a time to remind ourselves of all we already have.
Christmas to me means family time, love and laughter. It also means spending so much time together that we quarrel, have disagreements over board games and what movie to watch next because this is real life, not Christmas in a movie.
Since we moved here, our little family of four has faced some challenges. We have had good times and bad, times of sorrow and of great joy and exhilaration. If we are honest, in the past Christmas has often felt strange and has made us all feel a bit homesick. During rough times like this though, I remind myself that we moved here out of choice. We dreamed of being here and our dreams came true, whereas many other people are transplanted into a new place where everything is different not because they have followed their dreams but because their dreams have turned into nightmares. It is those people that I am thinking of and praying for this Christmas.
It’s a running joke in our house that when I am asked what I want for Christmas I always reply “two nice girls” as homage to the beloved character Marie in our favourite TV show Everybody Loves Raymond – but it is also true that there is nothing that I actually want. I have far more than I ever could have hoped for. I have a family who love and support me unconditionally, a safe home to live in, abundant food and water, opportunities to pursue things I enjoy and the luxury of time and good health. Therefore, it is my aim this Christmas to remember that I am rich beyond measure and to take some time over the Christmas season to really reflect on that fact. Rather than wishing for snow, blankets on the sofa and gingerbread lattes from Costa, I am embracing sand, blankets on the beach and …coffee from any number of my favourite coffee shops in Auckland (!)
Whether your preparations for the holidays are being conducted in the snow, rain or sunshine I hope you can find some time for yourself to reflect on what Christmas means to you and I would love to hear some of your thoughts x