“It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” aka “Didn’t Put The Lights Away Last Year”

29 Nov “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” aka “Didn’t Put The Lights Away Last Year”

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 29 November 2021


Outwardly, it looks a little bit like we are ready for Christmas because the deck of our house is festooned with twinkly lights. Our neighbours, however, will attest that these lights have been up the whole year, forced to work the kind of overtime on long winter nights that New Zealand-based Christmas lights should not have to face. 

Three reasons – and thanks for asking. One is that there was a bit of drama putting them up. They were in fact the second set of Christmas lights purchased. The first set lasted only a couple of days and then needed to be unwound and returned to the store which had since run out of stock and I don’t know if you’ve tried to arrange a credit note in a store in the mad lead up to Christmas but it wasn’t a good time for anyone, least of all the man at the counter who suggested I’d put the solar bit in the wrong place and my face went a bit “Karen”. And then I had to find another store and buy a completely different brand of lights not previously tested and recommended by trusted friends so I was pretty much flying blind.

And the second reason is that I might not have liked the way my husband spaced the new lights out after he’d spent a hot afternoon wrapping the long and quite tangly bundle around the deck railings, and there might have been cross words followed by a very loud silence.

So yes, no one was in a hurry to repeat any of this in 2021 so you might as well leave them where they are. Also three, I just like them. I’m prepared to argue that fairy lights are forever, not just for Christmas.

And that’s about all we do have ready. After two years of watching things disappear from our diaries it is hard to believe anything written there and we’re not entirely convinced family will be allowed to travel here, which makes it hard to order a ham.

Though that’s the thing about Christmas – immutable, immoveable and non-negotiable, it turns up ready or not. No one has ever successfully argued for an extension as far as I know – it’s one of the few hard-and-fast deadlines. Even the IRD can occasionally show mercy, shifting a date and waiving a penalty, but Christmas? Ho-ho-ho no.

One friend suggests this particular Christmas might be the most relaxing yet. They’ve decided their home will only be open to people who are double-vaxxed – they have someone who is high risk and needs protecting. Instead there will be a jolly and festive video call with relatives of the other persuasion.

Just quietly, my friend says the Venn diagram of “people in her family who hold a different view on vaccination” and “people in her family she is never in a rush to see” is pretty much one perfect circle.

If you can’t quite get into the swing of Christmas, you could try telling the kids that Santa is stuck in MIQ for two weeks and the presents will arrive depending on the results of his Day 3 and Day 5 tests. You can then take advantage of Boxing Day sales and re-gifting on TradeMe, waiting at home for delivery and saving yourself a bundle.

But don’t do that – if we’re a tiny bit short on social cohesion in these trying times, then all of us committing to one day of overindulgence (champagne, trifle, tiny pies for breakfast!) could be the glue that puts us back together.