Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry Christmas

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

As promised the more magnanimous magic of Christmas special! I recently received an email from Team Taylor's head cheerleader - Denene - that she has graciously allowed me to share:

We have the kids school prizegiving & play tonight and it always gets me. There is something beautiful about children singing, and being a catholic school they really feel the meaning of Christmas. The kids have taken preloved toys and food to school to donate to those in need (like St Nicholas- who was the original Santa). All that aside Christmas becomes about family rituals. Every Christmas day the kids put on a show (singing for their supper & presies) and this year Finn is on drums, his cousin is on his electric guitar and the others are singing to 'All I want for Christmas is you'. It is hilarious watching my 3 year old on his ukelele in his shades rocking and head bashing to it in the practice sessions! Christmas means squishing three families into the bach and sharing great food. Christmas reminds me to be grateful. Christmas means I receive decorations from my friends around the world who I miss, and my kiwi decorations get mailed over to them. So decorating my tree each year tells a story of different friends and different places and times. And as you can see above, every year I am a big Christmas geek and make a special card with my kids on it! My Nanna keeps all of hers on her bookshelf up all year long. (This year we are actually taking the kids to the mountain to see the snow too!)

She's dead right, isn't she! Christmas is about remembering all those great relationships we have, and every family has it's own traditions and rituals that make it a special time of year. My own favourite all time Christmas was the one when Jacky and I made each other gifts. So much love and thought went into that Christmas!

The Sivaks are equally expansive with their preparations and decorations. I remember when we lived next to them in Wakefield they educated us into the rituals of a Polish Christmas.

Denene's email reminded me of the times when I was maybe Finn's age - Ross (always two years younger than me) would wake me up at about 4.30am on Christmas morning and we'd creep out to see what Santa had left us. Our dining room and lounge at 18 Korma Ave, Royal Oak, Auckland had a glass dividing door that Santa would pull closed before he left. We wouldn't dare open the doors but we'd sit for what seemed like hours (and probably was) looking at the tree, the wrapped gifts, and the detritus of his visit (the empty glass and the crumbs from the food we'd left out the night before). Eventually mum and dad would emerge and we'd be bursting to open the presents. We were both spoilt rotten!!

The three English Christmases we had were definitely the best of the recent years. The season of goodwill to all is matched with cold weather, snow (Jade and Samantha where we lived in Leigh-on-sea) and a really special feeling. I especially loved wandering around Oxford St. with all the decorations and lights.

So all in all - wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whoever you're celebrating Christmas with, whatever the future holds in store for us - right now this is my chance to wish you a great family Christmas and a peaceful holiday season.

Love and peace (on Earth) - Warren

Monday, December 8, 2008

Update 40

And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun (nearly).

At the risk of gaining instant grinchhood, labeled a Scrooge McDuck or worse, a kiljoy - I'm afraid this is going to be my bah humbug Christmas post. To be blunt -I'm not a huge fan of the New Zealand Christmas experience. After experiencing cold winter English Christmases I am even more aware of the fakery attached to our festivities. Is there anything more daft than a sweltering hot day and people dressed up like they come from the north pole? Fake snow and reindeer, tinsel and flashing lights on fake pinetrees do not float my boat.

I suspect this lack of Christmas cheer on my part is part of my DNA and is something I've unwittingly passed on to my children. I know dad shares my feelings of unease and I know Keegan and Jade do too. It's a tacky time in many ways.

Santa being an invention of coca-cola (nothing wrong with coke!) is appropriate given all the commercialism that runs riot as well. Unfortunately the feeling and religious significance (at least in New Zealand) runs secondary to how many tacky presents there are on offer. The staff Christmas function at school was a bizarre one in many ways, capped off with the 'secret Santa' gifts. I'm sorry - but a load of tatty $5 lolly packs or 'joke' gifts from the $2 shop doesn't move me. The fact I couldn't drink any alcohol because I was still feeling icky didn't help one bit either.

So is there anything good about Christmas? Well yeah, there are some things - some of my favourite movies are set at Christmas time (About A Boy, Love Actually, Die Hard, and der - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation). They take a largely irreverent view and acknowledge the tension inherent in the season - Die Hard has large scale violence and family disfunction at its heart - perfect. The National Lampooners have Chevy Chase attempting, and failing hilariously, to have an 'old-fashioned family Christmas' while putting up with unwelcome family 'guests'. Also perfect.

I also like some Christmas songs. Top 5 (oh who's kidding - there are only 5): Wonderful Christmas time - Paul McCartney; Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John and Yoko; Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love; Listen, The Snow Is Falling - Yoko Ono - technically not a Christmas song but the B side to the awesome Happy Christmas (War is Over) and about snow which leads me to; Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow - Frank Sinatra. When I write them down I realise there's a lameness to each one but kitsch is the name of the game is it not?

The other good thing is the holiday - six good weeks of summer holiday is major project time. we've got some decorating to do as I ripped off a lot of wallpaper during the year (doh!), the roof needs painting and I want to build a bird aviary. All that and the normal repair jobs that I've saved up all year.

Books - the holidays will also be about reading (exciting huh). I've stored up quite a few books during the year and apart from the dull as dishwater educational stuff I should read I'm planning on getting into Sarum and the Lennon bio that Jade bought for me recently (comes with excellent reviews!) You'll remember a large chunk of this year was taken up with reading 'London' by Edward Ruthurford, well Sarum was his first humungous historical novel.

My next post will be more magnanimous I promise - until then I'm looking forward to school finally finishing for the year next week.

Before I go - Happy Birthday to Adam for today (11/12/08). He's 22 and I love him!

Love and peace - W

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Update 39

The update before Christmas edition with fake beard and pretend snow!

Well - not the greatest two weeks of my life I'd have to say. Jade brought home a virus last week while we were frantically trying to redecorate her room as a surprise on her birthday (28 November). She'd been sick at work and within about 20 minutes of collecting her I was sick, then Jacky, then Samantha. Wow baby were we sick. Jacky ended up in Base Hospital thanks to a mercy dash by Michelle. Turned out to be the noro virus that has closed wards and even killed people. We were all really dehydrated and plus I had a head-cold as well. Talk about a misery guts!!

But we're all back on deck now. Jade has finished her external exams - luckily the day before she got sick, I'm still at work for another week, Samantha is working at the New World butchery again and Jacky is still receiving physio for her shoulder and about to go to the gym regularly to improve it further. All and all it's been a crappy year for her. We're keen to see the back of 2008 in many ways. It hasn't been stellar!

Ross and dad sent some images of the gang test driving their home built train (picture is Lynda and Hayden doing his Casey Jones impression). Thought I'd share them with the world (video is of Hayden and Scott).

And while I'm in the sharing mood - here's a picture Leda sent of an Aussie dust storm she found herself embroilled in.

Current grooving to the Once soundtrack (supplied by Samantha) and some early Jefferson Airplane. I wandered into the record collection yesterday after a hot and sweaty lawn mowing/ sheep wrangling session (that sounds vaguely rude doesn't it) and I just felt like listening to some west coast sounds (San Franciscan Jesse is still about and we had a lovely meeting with his dad, half sisters, step-mom who came to NZ recently for a camping holiday and who are now part of the whanau - means extended family guys). So Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow got a thrashing!

All fer now - don't over-indulge (I've lost count of how many seasonal functions I've attended recently). I think Tina and S.O. are back in Aotearoa - not sure - give us a shout out Teenie. Pat/Randy must be due to return as well. Bumper Christmas wishes to y'all.

Love and peace - W