An interruption to the China series for something a little more topical. Hello from my hometown of Helensville (technically, the small adjacent settlement of Parakai) where I’ve spent Christmas with my parents and grandmother. Christmas nowadays gets shared between Wellington and Auckland in a mixture of new and old traditions.
A few years ago Mike and I started a Christmas Eve picnic thing around the Wellington south coast. We held it a couple of nights earlier this time and on a stellar summer evening we returned to a favourite spot, a park commemorating NZ’s worst modern day maritime disaster, the Wahine ferry sinking in 1968. This sprawling rocky shoreline is an interesting place to fossick for photos and watch the setting sun.
One final day of work and one long drive north later, I woke up in Parakai on December 25th. These days the family Christmas doesn’t get off to the early excited start that it once used to and left to my own devices I like to head out early for a walk into Helensville. (Unless one has a broken toe like one had last year.)
Christmas Day lunch is sometimes hot, sometimes cold. Courtesy of a beautiful summer’s day, this time it was cold and al fresco on Mum and Dad’s deck.
In past years a common practice would be to visit an old family friend for Christmas lunch on his farm at the end of South Head. In a post last Christmas I pondered that it may have been my last visit there, and with his passing earlier this year that has proved true. So a new tradition began: visiting his plaque in the Helensville Cemetery. It’s a picturesque place, overlooking the Kaipara River and full of crumbling headstones.
For dinner we were joined by my brother and his family. Kyle and Maria are expecting their first baby together so next Christmas will see the forming of new traditions.
And from a new childhood in the making to a flashback of mine – my original stocking and a hand puppet both made by Mum a zillion years ago. They’ll be returning to Wellington with me. I might put the stocking up next year and see what happens…