Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Summer Sort of Christmas

We have reached our anniversary date of one year in New Zealand.  Technically this will be our 2nd Christmas here but last year our feet barely hit the ground when the 25th arrived.  After a winter in Dubai, last NZ summer felt cold.  When the sun shows herself this time around we are soaking her up in the surf and sand.    Here's what we are experiencing down under this summer Christmas.

1.  December marks the start of SUMMER and the end of the school year.  To put that into perspective, imagine adding the following to your already busy holiday season; finishing out the school year, award programs, recitals, end of year parties, and planning for summer trips.  It's a giant end of the year celebration to add on top of Christmas.  

2.  Summer does NOT mean nice weather every day.  One day it is gorgeous  

and the next day is filled with rain...thunder...gale force winds.. and fog.  Not. even. kidding.  All in ONE day. 

i was recently taught a new mantra which we are learning to embrace,

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."

Put on the right clothes and get outside.
Don't let a little rain ruin your BBQing!

3.  Eggnog is OUT and Fruitcake is IN.  At the mention of eggnog we get quizzical looks, "What's that?!"  Those that have heard of the elusive "eggnog" think it is served warm.  Blah!  We made an extra special batch for co-workers (this secret recipe is coveted in the States) and they weren't so keen on it.  All the more for us i guess.  Fruitcake is called Christmas Cake here and is MUCH better than the one you find in the States.  It is soaked in rum and is actually quite tasty although very rich.  Friends here can't believe it is considered a joke in the States as it is so loved in NZ.  

4.  New Zealand has the BEST Christmas tree ever!  The Pohutukawa Tree is a well loved native tree that is fabulous all year round as its branches are strong, twisty, bouncy and make for fantastic climbing.  They are scattered all along the beaches and cliffs and are one of our favorites.

(My Bestie in one!)
 We have some right out our window.

In December it bursts out in color and we love 'em even more.

It has changed the landscape of our view and provided treats for our feathered friends. 

 The Tui bird that sings us the most unique song all day long.

A new bird we discovered just the other day.

Almost daily we spot a pair of Eastern Rosellas in our tree but have yet to snap a picture of them in it.  They are shy and the inspiration for us to become official bird watchers.

5.  Speaking of animal sightings...

The latest local headline news is of the dolphins that stopped to entertain crowds at a nearby beach for over an hour with their playful antics.  

We had an impromptu lesson on gannets one afternoon after sighting a hundred dive bombing birds from the local colony.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

6.  There are still heaps of activities for the kids through Christmas and summer.  Kyle is having a go at New Zealand baseball.  
Typically he wears cleats for the game but this was the first game and the shoes we had to order from Australia hadn't arrived yet.  He went barefoot to the game kiwi style, but borrowed cleats from fellow Americans.  New Zealand is getting into baseball but things like cleats, mitts and bats are still difficult to come by.  

Ry attempted Netball for the first season.  A very popular game here with the girls which is a lot like basketball except you are NOT allowed to bounce the ball.  Lots of passing, learning new rules and adjusting to playing a sport in a dress.  Ry wasn't afraid to jump in and give it a go.

7. You can't enjoy Christmas lights until after the sun goes down around 9:30 and instead of fireplaces crackling the windows are wide open and ushering in gentle breezes to cool you off. 

8.  The beach is the venue for ALL activities.  Christmas caroling, fireworks, meet ups, Christmas dinner (or any meal for that matter) all happens down at the beach.  

9.  Kids still need to earn their keep, even if it is Christmas.  Some children shovel snow at Christmas.  Last year my kids had to shovel sand. 

This year during a storm we received a dusting of bright pink...

that required a massive sweep up.

Thanks to the blustery wind, the Pohotukawa painted our house, deck and walkway with her brilliant flowers.  Honestly, i preferred the color where it was as it isn't nearly as stunning in my rubbish bin.

  Although we are surrounded by a warmer season, different traditions and new friends, we still find joy in celebrating the truth of Christmas that remains constant throughout the world.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.  And the He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6