Well, first of all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, doesn’t feel like Christmas. There is no promise of snow. The days are long and people are wearing sandles, shorts and t-shirts. Coming from a dark and cold place where you Christmas is the light in the darkest and dreariest season, a mildly warm, and long dayed Christmas season just doesn’t cut it.
Not only was the weather all wrong, but the mood was incorrect as well. People just weren’t as excited. We went to a few malls in Christchurch a week before Christmas and yes there were decorations and there was a Santa, but there was very little Christmas music playing. None of the sales representatives were wishing anyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays. There was no air of festivity. It was pathetic.
Lucky for me, I found a pocket of Christmas in the house with my housemates. A few of the housemates went into the forest and cut down a Christmas tree. Then ornaments and candy canes were placed on its boughs. Not long after, presents were added under the tree. We even had cheesy, yet amazing (to me) Christmas songs playing. The only time it felt at all like Christmas was when sitting in the living room with my housemates talking about Christmas plans and the Christmas feast we were going to have. It was great. The Christmas gang was as follows; Alex and Bente, Vuegar, Adam and Lucy, Step, Eamonn and I. Vuegar, Alex and Bente are not housemates, but Alex and Bente slept on a blow up mattress in the living room the night of the 24th and Vuegar was coming early in the morning (before the poor boy had to work!)! It was a Christmas sleepover!
Finally, after one evening service that we thought was going to be a carol service, but turned out to be a rant about how we are not worthy, it was Christmas morning. And let me tell you, it was an amazing Christmas morning. My amazing and awesome and sweet and smart and funny and too many more adjectives boyfriend, proposed to me! YAY. My response was of course “yes”. (This blog post will not go into detail about the proposal, sorry that’s for friends and family only).
After that wonderful surprise and major life event that still makes me grin like I’ve got a coat hanger stuck in my mouth, was Christmas for everyone else. Present time!!!!! I have only known most of these people for a few months to a few weeks and it was so much fun to open their gifts. All were thoughtful and many involved chocolate! After a long round of opening presents, we had quit the stack, it was time for breakfast. Chocolate chip pancakes!! YUM! Eamonn and I managed to feed everyone sufficiently. We were then fueled and ready to go to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools (which were closed to the public). Steph and Lucy are both massage therapists at the Spa that is attached to the Thermal pools and all staff are allowed to use the pools for free on Christmas day. The only day a year the pools are closed. Alex was so excited about the water slides and to be honest, after I saw them, I was too.
We broke nearly every rule going down the slides. Going down slides on the wrong kind of mat, on no mat, with too many people or backwards. It was too much fun. It was sunny, warm and perfect to be playing in the pools. As more people arrived, we took a few turns on the lazy river before grabbing the beer and heading to the Aqua Therapy Pool (aka the giant jacuzzis). Relaxation to the extreme. After a bit of that we found a less bubbly hot pool and threw around a rubber ducky as a ball.
Eventually, after we were all very pruned, we headed back in waves to the house to start The Feast. Here was the menu; roast leg of lamb, two roast chickens, potato salad, tomato and feta salad, cucumber and onion salad, roast bacon potatoes, roast vegetables (kumara, parsnip, red onion, carrot, pumpkin) and gravy. That isn’t including the mashed potatoes that we had intended to make. We sat at the dinner table for a few hours while we gorged on delicious edibles.
Probably not long enough later came the desserts, red and green swirled sugar cookies, peanut butter kiss cookies, chocolate covered fruit (handmade by Vuegar!!), icecream, and a blueberry raspberry pie. We had to roll ourselves to get anywhere.
During all the preparations we had Christmas movies playing. We had a limited selection, but we managed. The laughter, the happiness and the overall warm and familial feeling was wonderful and more than I had hoped would be possible away from home in a totally different environment. So pretty much, thank you housemates and friends for a wonderful Christmas!