You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.
When it comes to weather, Kansas is a bit unpredictable. I never counted on a white Christmas or even a cold Christmas and always figured I was flexible when it came to how the holidays “should” be. But spending the holiday season in New Zealand this year was confusing.
With the sun out and the beaches full of kids on holiday, there’s no trouble getting into the swing of summer. I can wear sandals, shorts and t-shirts walking to town and eat lunch on my parents’ back patio while the house’s doors and windows are all open to catch the breeze.
On the other hand, I could totally get into the holiday spirit just by reading in the living room next to our family’s tiny Christmas tree with white lace snow flakes, or when the kids the language school where my mom works learned to bake holiday pies.
The problem comes with doing both at the same time. Every time we turn on the radio or tv, there’s advertisements: “Do your holiday shopping during Farmer’s summer blowout sales!” “Get your Kiwi bloke a grill this holiday season!” “Spend your Christmas Eve at AC Baths – swimming, raffles, prizes!” Every time we watch tv, there’s commercials that just do not make sense to me.
I realized just how embedded some of my seasonal patterns are; I get little twinges when things don’t match up, whether it’s tourists who show up in July and complain about the cold or my mother referring to April as “last fall.”
Luckily, this complicated problem has a simple fix : there’s nothing more relaxing or more joyous than a family Christmas picnic at the beach.
Growing up in Kansas, the holiday season was always a time of intensity and stress. Big family gatherings meant lots of arrangements, presents and preparation, plus in our family of mixed religious backgrounds, we always ended up trying to celebrate a little bit of everything – but I never felt like we fully landed on anything.
When I went to college and my parents moved to New Zealand, all of this came to an end. Now the holidays were about the winter break from classes and long distance phone calls – definitely less stressful, but also less celebratory.
Now that the move has become semi-permanent, my parents decided that my brother and I should get one annual visit each and this year we’ve all ended up in the same place for Christmas again, albeit halfway around the world from where we used to be. It’s been odd to listen to Christmas music with the windows open for the breeze, or to walk down the block looking at holiday lights in shorts and sandals.
But there’s huge rewards for if you can make the “difficult” adjustment : it turns out there’s nothing more relaxing or more joyous than a family Christmas picnic at the beach.
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition
On my way to Auckland, I had nearly a day long layover in Brisbane, Australia. After clearing customs around 9am local time, I rented a locker for most of my carryon luggage and sprinted for train. I had one goal : koalas.
But there were some hurdles to jump first – the train from the airport to the Cultural Centre got me there 10 minutes after the morning boat left for Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Fortunately, two kind docents at the nature museum gave me a bus number and pointed me toward the platform to catch it. I arrived in time to spend a few hours there amidst all the animals which also include birds, lizards, snakes and kangaroos.
When I was about three, my mother’s friend Christine gave me a koala stuffed animal that I carried all over the place. It paid off – great-uncle Wally took the little guy and placed him high in a southern California eucalyptus tree for me, the highlight of the visit.
“Someday,” I thought. “I’ll see real ones!”
Afterward I caught the Mirimar boat back to the Culture Centre and the train to the International Terminal. With a slight sunburn, a full camera card and memories, I was on my way to New Zealand.
The end of the semester! I’ve turned in my students’ grades, received some of mine and finished semester projects. That means it’s time for winter break. My brother Peter, Steven and I heading to my parents’ house on New Zealand’s north island. I’ve been once, Peter has lived here over a year and visited since and it will be Steven’s first visit.
This time we’ll probably stay closer to home, but here are a few images from the north island…
…and a few images from the the south island…
…and a little something extra.