Every Christmas up until now I had spent it at home in the cold British winter with my immediate family. Some years were slightly different and there was the year that my sister was away over Christmas Day but I had always been at home. Christmas time had always meant cold weather and quality streets, Christmas movies and hot chocolates, a turkey roast and a day with my family. However, this year I was in New Zealand without my family and it was summer.
I had started my job as an Au Pair at the end of November so I had settled in well when Christmas Day arrived but I didn’t feel all that festive in the month leading up to it as my usual festive traditions just weren’t possible. Not only was I in New Zealand but I was living deep in the bush, an hour and a half drive from the nearest town! There are no Costa’s in New Zealand for me to have the special festive hot chocolates and I couldn’t wear my novelty Christmas jumper or scarf as it was hot summer weather. Most of all though it just felt strange not to be with my family as we always have such a laugh at Christmas time.
However, the fact that I was the other side of the world in a completely different environment meant I didn’t feel as bad as if I was just down the road. My family and I ensured that we made an effort to send each other something to open on Christmas Day. I sent a package full of an assortment of Kiwi gifts including Manuka Honey Soap, Whittakers chocolate, L&P, hatch your own kiwi bird, a New Zealand road sign and other small tidbits.
My mum and sister went the extra mile though as my parcel arrived 2 weeks before Christmas Day but with instructions from my mother that I could open it straight away. The postman was probably a little scared as I struggled to contain my excitement. I opened it to find my Christmas stocking that I have had since I was a child filled with presents and a chocolate advent calendar from my mum (continuing the tradition in which she buys me one along with my brothers and sister each year). I also received a few parcels from my dad containing Christmas gifts.
So come Christmas Day I woke up and went into the house just after 6am to find all the kids running around with their new toys from Santa full of excitement. The extended family then came over and everyone exchanged presents. I was given a Whangamomona singlet and sweatshirt from the family which basically marks me as a local when paired with my red bands. I was also delighted to open my presents from home including lots of socks, Haribos (I had really been missing these the last few weeks), Christmas pyjama bottoms, some stationary, a London bus purse and other fun tidbits that made me smile.
We then had breakfast of bacon, croissants and egg with champagne for the adults. It was quite a feast especially as with all the extended family and kids there were 17 of us! It was only gonna become a bigger crowd though.
The morning was spent preparing and cooking for Christmas dinner. In New Zealand people will traditionally have either a ham roast or a BBQ for their Christmas dinner, we were having a mix of everything due to the numbers we were expecting.
There were over 30 people not including children and we all sat on the tables we had set up outside on the deck. Christmas dinner consisted of Ham, Chicken, Turkey and Lamb with various salads and vegetables. We then all played a crazy party game that requires you to pop Balloons that are tied around each other’s waist. It was a lot of fun and we were all in hysterics!
We were then sat around talking all enjoying the afternoon sun and digesting our food when suddenly water balloons started descending on us! They were a present to the kids that some of the guys had decided to use against the unsuspecting adults and before we knew it all out war had began and everyone was getting drenched! When the water balloon supplies dwindled jugs of water were used and then I was targeted and picked up and thrown in the paddling pool whilst they turned the tap on!
I got changed and we all had dessert which was an awesome assortment of Christmas pudding, pavlova (the tradition Christmas dessert here), chocolate cake, trifle, brandy snaps and apple pie. The evening passed in more laughter and talking until numbers slowly declined and everyone retired to bed.
It was certainly a different Christmas to my usual celebrations and whilst I missed my family a lot I had a lot of fun as well. Next year I look forward to celebrating with my family though.