Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Time Of Year

I love it! Here in New Zealand the holidays start at Christmas, continue on through Boxing Day with a statutory holiday thrown in if either of those days fall on a Sunday often making for a short week the following week at the end of which the whole process starts again for the New Year celebration.

It's a time to sit back, relax & reflect. Many businesses close between Christmas & New year so the streets are somehow quieter - the pace of everything slowed down. There is no school for weeks. It's summer, it's holiday time & the atmosphere is somehow different even though many things just continue on as normal.

So why then, when I never ever naturally wake at 5.00am - even when I have to, even if a herd of rhinoceros were to stampede through my bedroom yelling out "Shoe Sale 70% off beginning in 1 hour" did I wake just before 5.00am the other morning? I read for a bit, had a wee panic when just before 5.30am there was a nice wobbly jerk & rattle, & upon leaping out of bed ready to take cover it finally occurred to me that the sky was glowing a rather nice shade of pink.

I never said I was alert - just awake. Kinda...sorta.

By the time I threw on some clothes, grabbed some gear & headed in the car to the beach I'd missed the most colourful part of the sunrise.

But still it was nice to catch what I did - & it was so quiet & peaceful.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I wonder, if we realised what all of those impressions we absorb as young children would mean to us later, whether we would take more notice at the time. Regardless of whether we did or not, somewhere in our sub consciousness while we are blithely playing our way through childhood many things imprint on our brain & later surface again. A sight, a scent, a sound & we are transported back.

Unsurprisingly some things make more of an impression than others.... there are some that we are not even aware of, or at least later on in life we can't pin point when that memory was imprinted. Christmas brought all of this home to me this year.

I'd bought a few stems of Lilium Regal - the Christmas Lily, here in New Zealand. It's scent is absolutely amazing. I have some growing in the garden for the first time ever but didn't want to cut the few I had so purchased some instead. 
For one reason or another over recent years I haven't had Christmas lilies in the house. I'm not sure why as I always used to have them - even if I did have to pinch the stamens out because my ex-husband complained they gave him hayfever. Unfortunately removing the stamens also removed the delicious scent, but since he was often away I'd leave pinching out the stamens until I absolutely had too.

The second I got those beauties into the house I was transported back in time & realised that, to me, this was the one thing that said "Christmas" more than anything else. A fragrance. In that moment the amazing spicy, heady, intoxicating scent of those Christmas lilies was the most wonderful thing on earth.

Because of my trip to Brisbane there was no tree this year, no other decorations - just those beautiful white lilies & they spoke "Christmas" more than anything else ever has in recent years & I suspect ever could. I can't recall whether Mum had them at Christmas time when I was really young, although I remember my Uncle & Aunt had them planted right along the side of his house for many years & that there was always a vase full inside at their place.

I was more than a little pleased when my oldest son commented on the scent of the lilies on Boxing Day - it seems that the imprint was made when he was younger too.

Absolutely Positively Christmas.

Growing in my garden.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Almost Perfect Christmas

The lead up to Christmas this year was slightly different to our normal Christmas build up. A couple of decent earthquakes, a 5.8 & 6 magnitude accompanied by a swarm of aftershocks 2 days beforehand closed down malls & shops....right as I was about to head for them.

Sometimes procrastination is good - & believe me I had procrastinated all morning about heading to the Mall & doing all those last minute things, such as....well,  pretty much everything really! Gifts, food,  you name it. I hadn't bought anything apart from my nieces & nephews presents when I was in Australia.

My intention had been to get up early Friday morning & get the last of my gift shopping done before heading to the supermarket. But I faffed around answering emails, reading a tutorial & just putting it off in general & I wasn't even sure why. I'm so pleased I did!

Just as well  I came to the conclusion that Christmas will come regardless of whether I am ready or not a few years back, that it's not dependent on the trimmings & trappings or buying into the dreadful commercialism that it seems to have become.

Still, that doesn't stop me wanting to have the house looking a little like Christmas so this year, the first in many, I had splurged on a huge bunch of Christmas lilies & long stemmed red roses. Of course that was before I remembered that all of my vases had been broken in the February quakes - so then I had to splurge on a new vase (sorry honey, if you are reading this - I forgot to mention that part & the lilies didn't really look that great sitting in a blue plastic juice jug....).

More than anything I would have loved to have brought a really nice nativity set - but the only one I could find that fitted the image in my head had a price tag of $300.00+, so was somewhat prohibitive.

I did have plans of further table decorations, a lightly gold sprayed mossy branch hung with some small antique looking cream & gold angels that I have was to accompanied by a bird cage I had picked up in Australia that I had started decorating. Having to delay my shopping until the stores re-opened on Christmas Eve saw me run out of time to complete the mossy branch one.

Christmas Day came & it was wonderful. It was spent surrounded by family & I only say almost perfect as there were  two key members of the cast missing. The Mailleman, who is of course in Australia & Baby Boy who is deployed to parts that don't observe this particular celebration. I missed both of them dreadfully as well as missing the company of my daughter in law, Kerry, as she spent the day with her family.
It's more than a little strange to think that this is potentially my last Christmas in New Zealand.

That said, more than ever this made me realise what Christmas truly means to me. It's not about the trimmings & trappings or the decor. It's not about the food, the drink or the gifts - especially whether you get or give the latest techno gadget. It is certainly not about the mass commercialism that seems to increase with every year.

Quite simply it is about being surrounded by those you care about & remembering what the day is truly celebrating; Christ's Mass. I hope that yours was as blessed as mine was.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Wish for You

May your blessings be many
May love & laughter fill the air
May you anticipate the New Year with peace in your heart