On That Glorious Space Between Christmas and New Year

27 Dec On That Glorious Space Between Christmas and New Year

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 27.12.21


The week between Christmas and New Year has always been my favourite. There has been the indulging of family at one end, then the over-indulging of self at the other – though I am less inclined to that these days. Look at me, all grown up.

But between those two poles of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the week is slung like a hammock, offering calm and a bit of a lie down with a new book and some leftover ham.

Not for me the Boxing Day sales – I’ve seen enough shops for the time being and I’m happy to let others snap up the bargains. Besides, I still haven’t put my Christmas presents away so there’s no need to bring in more new stuff yet. Instead, I’ll likely venture as far as the nearest beach, book in one hand, ham sandwich in the other.

I often think I like my city most of all when everyone else leaves it – Auckland seems to function best on about half its permanent population. This tells us something about our infrastructure woes and also our obsession with cars, but I’m possibly too drunk on leftover trifle to articulate that this week.

It will be interesting to see how many of us really do travel this summer – some have been champing at the bit to get out, but many of us are still hesitant. One of my friends jokes she has Stockholm syndrome – her house has held her captive and now she doesn’t want to leave it at all.

Indeed, sensible people have been suggesting Aucklanders should keep away from regions still working on their vaccination levels, and I can see their point.

Mind you, it is easier for me to comply with that kind of request given our family from across the border have come to us for the holidays, saving us from having to make a hard choice. And I know many people are doing the very best they can to safely visit much-loved, much-missed family in other places – travelling direct, staying still once they get there, being vaccinated and also taking a Covid test before they head off.

What a remarkable thing it has been, to have ended up with my closest family on the other side of a border! Sure, extended family have been scattered about the world for decades, but to have been unable to see my daughter, my brother, my mokopuna for this long when they’re just a few hour’s drive away is not something I’d ever imagined.

There are so many things I would never have imagined two years ago that are now part of our lives. Scanning in and showing vaccine passes – pretty straight forward – but also balancing the love you have for your family against the risk you might inadvertently bring them.

Though this has been true for small numbers of us for a long time – friends with cancer who didn’t need viruses brought into their homes, premature babies who needed to be protected from the wider world and the big people in it, all kinds of at-risk people we wanted to visit, but it was best we didn’t.

Perhaps this has been a taste (for all of us) of what it has been like (for some of us) in pre-pandemic times. Having to make personal sacrifices for the greater good is part of the price we pay for community, and here is our reminder.

To be honest, though, staying very still this week is no sacrifice – it’s all about the ham. Shush now, I’m reading.