We never really got into the Christmas spirit this year. We were in New Zealand and for some reason, I could not wrap my head around the fact that it was even the holiday season. Maybe it was the lack of snow and cold weather. Maybe it was all the daylight in the Southern Hemisphere where the days are long this time of year. Or maybe we did not have the right triggers like eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving; being bombarded by holiday ads; hearing the same Christmas music repeated over and over again; or fighting the holiday crowds. Maybe it was just the simple fact that we were away from our families. Whatever it was, it didn’t really seem like Christmas.
Typically, we spend time with both of our families and play host for Christmas dinner. We mix the menu up each year, but always try to include a unique soup to accompany the meat and vegetables. It is a tradition that we look forward to every year. We obviously couldn’t host dinner this year. Not only were our families on the other side of the world, our hotel room didn’t really have the kitchen to do anything too fancy.
Nonetheless, we still wanted to do something special for Christmas dinner so we picked up steaks, baked potatoes and even a pre-packaged soup to help keep the traditional alive! And of course, we enjoyed a nice bottle of New Zealand wine that we picked up while wine tasting on Waheike Island near Auckland.
In recent years, we’ve stopped exchanging presents with our families. It takes the stress away from the season for everyone and allows us all to simply focus on making the season special for the kids in the family—our nephews and nieces. This year was no different in that respect. However, we did receive small presents from the manager at our hotel. It wasn’t much, but it did reveal a little bit about the traditions they have here in New Zealand.
The presents were actually “Christmas Crackers”—a tradition in the U.K. and other Commonwealth countries. They’re small tubes that make a snapping sound when pulled apart from each end. Inside, there’s a paper crown that’s worn during celebrations and some sort of a small trinket along with a saying or a joke.
A Low Key Christmas…
Although we missed spending time with our families this year, we enjoyed a very low key and relaxing day. We ended up taking a hike in the morning, watching old movies on TV (like Hook, The Bucket List, and The Wedding Singer), cooking up our steaks and baked potatoes for dinner and enjoying a nice bottle of wine! And since we were hitting the road the next morning, we squeezed in a load of laundry and packed our bags!
It wasn’t the same without our families, but we enjoyed the next best thing: a relaxing day with each other.