Our niece and her partner invited all the family, extended in every possible direction, to their converted holiday home on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula for Christmas. It seemed to us that the crowd:size ratio would present serious challenges if the weather was no good. The forecast was for torrential rain and howling gales. Iggy, the pilot (and the optimist), thought that the weather might just be okay over Christmas lunchtime – and he was right. The gentle wind cooled a humid Auckland day and the rain stayed away. We sat outside under the shade sail and enjoyed a convivial time across several clans. Perfect.
Iggy and I know how fortunate we are that we had a very merry Christmas.
First of all, we didn’t tangle with the shopping crowds and queues. Our family decided on a no-presents policy for the extended-extended family. This respects the economic challenges faced by some of our family members and also respects the planet – no trees cut down to make gift wrap and no junk entering the gifting and landfill cycle. The grandchildren’s gifts were already posted to Portland in Oregon, USA, London in England and Palmerston North in New Zealand. That just meant cooking up a few jars of home-made lemon honey for friends and a wrapping a book for Iggy – Iris de Malmanche’s “High Country Woman”. Iris grew up across the road from Iggy, so he was interested in her story.
Second, we were expecting few visitors this year, since we travelled out of town for Christmas, so I quickly put up a little tree with simple decorations.
Emma, bless her, told me that all I needed to bring was Christmas tarts. Easy! I love being part of the grandparent generation. When the children were younger, I finished work just before Christmas and provided our family’s share at not one, but two, Christmas feasts (a three-course dinner and a three-course dinner, both held on 25 December – his extended family’s and mine). Then there were individual gifts all chosen and wrapped for all 18 guests at each feast.
We had such a relaxed and happy family time at Emma’s. My brother cooked up meat on a spit. It was magic to stand around with two of my brothers and Iggy and eat succulent meat with my fingers as it was carved straight from the rotisserie. We followed that up with scrumptious summer salads – one made of kumara, banana, capsicum and coconut thread, one of crispy lettuce straight from the garden and one of couscous scattered with eggplant, zucchini, feta and olives. There were bread rolls and glazed ham, too. This was followed with a little Christmas tart sprinkled with icing sugar. What abundance. We are a fortunate family.
Of course I missed our grandchildren, Brittney and Mirabelle, Ana and Rafa, and Aria yesterday. The best Christmas gifts were still to come. New Zealand Boxing Day started with the England family and the USA family making us part of their Christmas Day by telephone and Skype. Christmas carols from Brittney and Mirabelle, and “Oh Christmas tree” and “Jingle Bells” from Ana – those Christmas gifts will be treasured always.