Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is still strange after 40 plus years living in New Zealand. I have told of how the first Christmas we were here my then 7-year-old daughter, asked in her piping Scottish accent “When is it going to snow Mummy”. That first Christmas we had a fantastic summer. All the promises that were made in the coloured brochures provided to us by the NZ High Commission in London proved to be true. Long lazy days at the beach but at Christmas?
Even after all these years setting up a tree with lights and putting decorations around the house still doesn’t feel quite right. And reindeer – where’s the snow? Another vexing question for my daughter and her younger brother all those years ago was how would Santa get here if the reindeer didn’t bring him? And more importantly, would he know that they had moved from Lenzie in Dumbartonshire, Scotland to Auckland, New Zealand? And of course, there was no chimney – so how would he get in?
That first Christmas, the day dawned hot and humid and of course, having been brought up in the Northern Hemisphere I did the traditional dinner with all the trimmings. Everybody ate in their bathing suits. Another strange thing for us to contemplate (and add to the list of strange things).
Things went back to normal when we lived in Montreal and Christmas was once again in the winter. And if you have ever been to Montreal in the winter you will know that there was no shortage of snow. And there were two chimneys in our house so that solved the problem of access and the snow solved the reindeer question but by this time my children were 9 and 7 and Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as English and Scottish children knew him then) was relegated to the arena of fairies and fairy tales.
But now we are used to the upside-down seasons and accept that it will be warm and hopefully sunny on Christmas Day. My son will no doubt cook a barbecue and we will relax on a patio with a cold drink in hand, surrounded by family and friends.
And as I write this post on Saturday, December 8 at 1pm I find that there are only 16 days 10 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds to Christmas. Is that sufficient time to do all the things on my Christmas To Do List? Well, it will have to be.