Writing

07 Feb Don’t Eat That, I Just Bought It!

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 14.2.22

 

I don’t know exactly when “stocking up” becomes “hoarding”. Is it three packets of macaroni? Six cans of tuna? Or is it opening the spare bedroom wardrobe to jam in another mega stack of toilet paper and a carton of baked beans?

All I can say for sure is that, right now, my kitchen cupboards look better resourced than they usually do.

In pre-Covid times when life was full of travel, our pantry consisted of a little pasta, a lot of spices, the odd tin of tuna and an impressive range of teas. Dinner ingredients tended to be bought daily, swinging by the greengrocer on the way home from the airport to see what was in season and what was on special at the butcher’s next door.

Now, I look like someone who prepares for things. What we are vaguely preparing for is the possibility we might need to self-isolate for 14 days should we return, at some point, a positive Covid test. Not panic buying – that always feels rude and a bit like stealing from other people who also need things. This is adding a few extras at each trip to the supermarket, and feeling pretty darn lucky my budget lets me do that.

And also grateful about being at the stage of life where we’re not living with teenagers who destroy a pantry like locusts. I am no longer reduced to shouting, “Don’t eat that, I just bought it! It’s there to make the cupboard look good!”

The fun part has been thinking about the food I most like and wouldn’t want to be without. Cereal, it turns out, and coconut milk and the kind of yoghurt you make yourself, and also a particular baked pea snack. Apparently I would cheerfully live on nothing but breakfast and chips.

Though also (and I am ashamed to admit it) if I am at the supermarket and notice a near-empty shelf of something, I will pop one of the last few into my trolley in case this is indicative of a supply chain issue, and these will be the last – what? bags of rice? tins of chilli beans? – we might see for weeks.

Also, soup. I imagine self-isolating me will want soup because that’s what sick people traditionally eat and, while I know how to make a fabulously robust chicken broth from scratch, I might not have the energy to chop ginger and lift out the bones if I’m not well.

I am envious of people with a chest freezer in their garage that they can fill with comfort food for uncomfortable times. Making ourselves feel safe by controlling one small part of a world that is otherwise beyond our control.

I keep thinking of my great aunt Ruth and great uncle Frank who didn’t have a freezer, but who stocked their garage with bottles of pop (luxury!) and also grapefruit marmalade and blackcurrant jam made from fruit grown in the backyard.

My mother, too, bottling apricots and making jam back when it was cheaper than buying it at the supermarket. And then one year, after she’d spent a day or two peeling and chopping and leaning over a hot jam pan with the wooden spoon and pouring it into carefully sterilised jars, the jam didn’t set and she sighed, and started bringing home Rose’s ginger marmalade which it turned out we loved.

I must put that on my list for next time.

 

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31 Jan Between Delta and Omicron

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 7.2.22

 

During that sweet spot between Delta and Omicron, I considered it our job not only to scan in, mask up and get boosted, but also to get out and enjoy each other’s company – very carefully – while we still could.

And so after staying put since last August – the first time in decades I’ve spent that many months without travelling – I scooted out of Auckland on a little comedy tour to some of our best beachside towns.

The first leg involved a plane – a plane! – that delivered us to a regional airport. Airports are good at planes, but less good at ground transport in smaller places where economies of scale mean taxi stands are mostly empty and you can wait as long as your original flight for a cab to respond to a call.

We tried an Uber in New Plymouth this time to see if that might work but got a call from the driver wondering if our destination was far enough away to make his trip to the airport worth his while. Given he had the address of our accommodation, and the advantage of local knowledge, we figured only he could answer that question. Ultimately he decided a drive to the airport this sweltering Sunday wasn’t for him and we were back to square one.

The next wait for a taxi, though, gave me an opportunity to hoover up a particularly delicious and quite chunky lemon slice I’d had my eye on in the airport café. It put me back in the travelling groove.

The trick with travel is to surrender to what happens next. Though I’m not a fool – I realise that whoever said the joy is in the journey, not the destination, probably didn’t have kids. Or half-a-dozen comedians to herd like cats. Still, you learn to make the best of it and get your lemon slice where you can.

We played that night to a couple of hundred joy-filled locals and holidaymakers in Ōakura, a town I’ve never played before – and there aren’t many places left on that list. Even so, it produced some old friends not seen for a long time and there were catch-ups over fish and chips, and then new friends made on the other side of the show.

I never know quite how to explain what it feels like to do my job, especially after months of not be able to. It’s like coming home, or returning to myself, or finding yourself at a really good party instead of ending up at the slightly lame one and hearing that things are going off somewhere else. And as well as having your own turn, there’s the bit where you slink off down the back of the room to watch your mates work, and see a room full of strangers roar with laughter, nudge each other in recognition, feel delighted and connected and happy. It’s a grand way to spend an evening.

The next day it’s a six hour drive in a van – round Mt Taranaki which is as bare of cloud and snow as I’ve ever seen it, then up through the King Country to the Waikato and on to Auckland to prepare for the next leg. Could’ve been five hours, I guess, but there were whitebait fritters to be had in Mōkau, and at least two stops for mango ice blocks. We remember how to travel when we can.

 

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20 Jan A Brief Word

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 31.1.22

 

Life changing. That’s the only way I can describe it. It has brightened my mornings, lifted my mood and didn’t cost me a cent. More than happy to share the secret so we can all get on board, and you’re very welcome.

Here’s what I did – I cleaned out my undie drawer. Marie Kondo’d my knickers, chucked out the ones that didn’t bring me joy. The ones that judged me and said I’d had too much Christmas trifle. The ones meant to suck in my tummy but made me feel trapped. Those others designed to feel young and funky but which cut me off at the thighs or disappeared up my bum or rolled over at the hint of a belly. Also the shabby ones, and the ones that had been mean and scratchy from day one.

Which sounds like a lot of undies to chuck but really we’re talking maybe half a dozen? Some of them were guilty of more than one crime – I’m looking at you harsh red lace bikini brief with a tendency to ride up in places you don’t belong.

We hold on to bad undies longer than we should. Partly that’s because they’re madly expensive – especially relative to their size and weight – and we want to get our money’s worth. Leave them in the drawer untouched for a couple of years and, golly, look how well they’ve lasted.

But also, somewhere in each of us lives a particular terror which is The Fear of Running Out of Clean Undies. I honestly can’t tell you if this has ever happened to me – maybe on some trip I’ve miscalculated the ratio of knickers to number of days between laundromats? But the fact I can’t tell you where or when this terrible thing occurred suggests this is not a memory, but an anxiety about something that hasn’t happened yet. A hardwired dread, like being attacked by a woolly mammoth at the mouth of your cave.

So we keep the knickers that make us sad and angry for “emergencies”, shoving them to the back of the drawer where we’ll find them when all other options fail. But they’re sneaky, those undies, working their way up the front where your early morning barely-conscious hand will accidentally pluck them from the pile, and before you know it you’re wearing something that makes you feel bad about yourself. The day has hardly started and you’ve already made a terrible choice.

Toss them out, I say! Yes, even the expensive ones – stop thinking they deserve a turn so you can justify the money spent on them. It’s not your job to make your lingerie feel special – this is absolutely supposed to work the other way round. You go right ahead and chuck ‘em out if they’re mean to you.

And then (and this may be a general rule for living) pay more attention to the undies that bring you joy – their style and shape and fabric – and get more of those into your life. I mean, wait for the sales, obviously, unless you won Lotto this summer. A terrifically good underwear drawer is a long-term investment project.

And remain vigilant – any time a pair of gruts feels less than great (“gruts” is an awful word but it’s still better than “panties”) biff them. And as you toss them into the bin, say in your firmest voice so you really hear it, “It’s not me, it’s you”.

 

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10 Jan For You – A little taste of what menopause is like

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 24.1.22

 

I like these humid days in summer when everything feels soggy and your limbs stick together with sweat, when your internal engine seems overheated, your fingers are too fat for your jewellery and somebody made your pants too tight.

“Like” is perhaps not the correct word – I “admire the democracy” of days such as these because it gives everyone a little a taste of what menopause is like.

It is certainly the major way menopause has presented itself in my life over this past decade. A rush of damp heat that rises up my body – surprise! – as though I am blushing from the feet up. Waking in the night because I am on fire and the bed is a swamp, so I throw the covers off and hang a leg over the side and seconds later I am freezing. Feeling heavy and bloated, and always with the pants suddenly too tight.

Back when we used to travel to foreign parts, I would smile to myself as the plane door opened in somewhere like Rarotonga or Bangkok and a wall of hot, wet air would slap each passenger in the face, and they would either be delighted or overwhelmed by it, and then everyone would walk into the arrivals hall and be hit by a wall of freezing aircon and there’d be grumbling and I’d think quite loudly, “There you go, that’s menopause, except that menopause lasts for years. Maybe give your mum a call and tell her you’re sorry for not cutting her some slack when she was in her fifties.”

It is, of course, a different experience for everyone – which we are discovering now that we’re talking about it. My mother, thank goodness, shared her experience with me so I knew what was likely when my turn came – hot flushes and interrupted sleep were definitely our thing.

Having a relatively easy time of menopause (my reward, I like to think, for suffering through years of excruciating periods) gave me space to look for and find the upsides. I have been able to talk myself into thinking of hot flushes as “power surges” driving me on to do the next thing. My mother encouraged me to think of this bit of life as my prime – parenting over, harnessing this wild energy for work and creativity and intellectual curiosity.

I’ve gifted myself cotton and silk (more affordable once you stop buying school uniforms and tampons) so my skin can breathe, especially at night. And there’s the joy of liberation from the male gaze. Sure, being this invisible means it can take too long to get served in shops but otherwise what bliss to move about the world without total strangers providing commentary on what you’re wearing, how they rate you, or what they might want you to do for them next.

I hear that my mother and I got off lightly. There is a plethora of menopausal symptoms, many of which are debilitating. There seems to be an equal and opposite lack of research into the causes, effects and solutions.

But changes (see what I did there) are afoot. From where I sit now – almost out the other side – it looks like we are breaking the last taboo about what life is like for people with uteruses. I witnessed the moment in history when puberty and menstruation were brought out into the open, and I like being here for this chat about our next change of life.

 

 

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05 Jan On the Difference Between You and a Tui

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 17.1.22

 

In these wild times, we look for certainty where we can find it. Here’s one thing I am reasonably sure of – out there in our vast native bushlands, there are no wild animals proposing a toast to welcome in the New Year.

This isn’t because they know something we don’t (though they may know some things we don’t). It is because there are at least two things that separate the wild things from us humans.

First, there’s their lack of opposable thumbs and consequently an inability to hold a wine glass to make a toast. And secondly, while they’re good with general seasons, they don’t appear to keep a day-by-day calendar, lacking that (solely?) human need to construct a narrative to give their life shape and meaning. Tūī and wētā don’t keep a diary, and have no use for a New Year, nor a party to mark it.

We do, though. We humans need narrative, and we search everywhere for stories, for their beginnings and endings which help us muddle through the middles.

This is why we invented calendars with weeks and months and years, and whipped up weekends, an entirely artificial construct which lets us trick ourselves into thinking something is finished so we can take a breath and reset, and then again trick ourselves into believing something new has started. You run, you stop, you catch your breath and then, more or less refreshed, jog off again into the future.

We especially like to farewell one year and welcome the next, as though they are a living, breathing thing with their own personality. It was a good year, we say, or one we’re glad to see the back of. See you later. Next.

One of the tricky things about this pandemic is we know when it started but have no idea where it ends, that we are “in the midst” of it, but possibly nowhere near the middle even yet. “Nailed it!” we’ve been tempted to think a few times, until the virus reinvents itself and we feel closer to the beginning again, with the end so much further off.

So being certain that tūī and wētā don’t join us in counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve is one of the few things l will state with any confidence. And I am doing you a favour by not making any predictions for 2022 – whenever I feel sure about something, the universe appears to find it amusing to whip that rug of certainty out from under my feet.

I’ve had a look back at my hopes and dreams for 2021 – it boiled down to wanting to make the diary in my NZ Covid Tracer app look like something I’d be proud to have Dr Ashley Bloomfield read out to the nation at a 1pm briefing.

I pictured local excursions, shows, galleries, restaurants! And certainly, there was some glorious tootling about in those first months, and it warms me to remember them.

Then in August, life became entirely tootle-free. Even Dr Bloomfield would be hard pressed to read with any verve my record of, “Supermarket, supermarket, supermarket…”

So I will have nothing to say about this last year as it leaves, or to the next as it arrives except, “Fate, I will not tempt you”. I will try to be more like a tūī or a wētā. Though I’m still grateful for opposable thumbs which I will wrap around a wine glass, and I’ll look the world firmly in the eye and say, “Let’s give that another crack”.

 

 

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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.

 

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20 Dec On Not Doing Christmas At All

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 20.12.21

 

We have a friend who doesn’t like Christmas. Not because he belongs to one of the religions that doesn’t celebrate it, and not just in the way none of us likes Christmas in patches, like when we’re trying to find a car park at the mall, or the piped carols they’ve being playing in stores since November sound like fingernails down a blackboard, or at around 4pm on the actual day when you’d quite like a nap but the guests show no sign of leaving. We can all be a bit anti-Christmas at times.

But our friend doesn’t like Christmas at all – or at least, he doesn’t engage with it in any way, preferring to spend the day entirely alone.

In earlier years, we liked to gather up waifs and strays at our place on December 25th. Partly that’s because I couldn’t bear the idea of anyone being lonely on this day of all days, but also (quite selfishly) I’d noticed that injecting the odd special guest encouraged family to be on their best behaviour, which can be helpful as the day wears on.

So when Dougal (not his real name, something about him just makes me think of “The Magic Roundabout”) first told me years ago that he’d be spending Christmas Day alone in his flat with his traditional meal of baked beans and a beer, I invited him to join us for ham and champagne instead. I’m not quite sure when an invitation turns into a command, but I used a fair bit of, “But you must come!” He, however, wouldn’t be persuaded.

I’ve never asked why – I’m not very good at asking people the kind of questions I can feel they don’t want to answer. I’d be a terrible press gallery journalist, leaving all the question time to Barry Soper.

My usual style is to leave a long pause to see if the person fills in the silence (a useful technique with recalcitrant teenagers, I’ve found) but if nothing is forthcoming, I’ll let it go. I can guess a whole lot of reasons for someone wanting a solitary Christmas but really all we need to know is that he’s having the kind of day he wants.

Which is what I wish for all of us. There are a gazillion things that can go wrong – sometimes it feels like some of us are blue touch paper and some of us are matches. But there are even more things that go right. I especially love that bit after all the presents have been opened when the smallest kids toss their gifts aside and start playing with bubble wrap and boxes.

Chances are that at some point during the whole Christmas palaver – if you keep an eye out for it – you will be touched by some unexpected kindness, or a supreme act of thoughtfulness, or a gift you weren’t expecting. Quite possibly, you will have at least one lovely moment in amongst the hoopla where you share a sneaky knowing look with someone who gets it. And you will get a phone call or text from someone in another place who is thinking about you.

I will send Dougal a text, like I always do. It won’t mention Christmas – like I say, Christmas is clearly not his kind of thing. But he always texts back, so his phone is on, and that tells me something. And then I might slip away for a nap.

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13 Dec The Great Library Heist of 2021

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 13.12.21

 

Last week, I stole a book from our local library. Inadvertently, and I’ve fixed it now, but still.

This heinous crime occurred on the very first day Auckland libraries reopened after being locked down in August, so it seems a poor way for me to say welcome back, I missed you. Though of course it was the sudden novelty of the whole pick-up, check-out process wot done me in, m’Lord.

In a fit of optimism weeks ago, I’d ordered a book from our neighbourhood libary. Impressively, in that tiny window between being allowed back in their building and then reopening to the public, our librarians had done a sterling job of racing round the aisles and placing requested books on supersized collection shelves.

So there I am, my first trip out in 91 days to somewhere that’s not a supermarket, mask on, scanned in, up to my elbows in hand sanitiser and dusting off my library card. I wanted to interact with other humans, and also didn’t want to interact with other humans; to settle in for the day, but also get in and get out with the least amount of friction.

I zapped the barcode on my card, zapped my book and waited for the slip to print that would tell me when I needed to get it back. When nothing was forthcoming, I assumed we didn’t do that anymore? An environmentally friendly saving of paper and ink? I’d check online later.

It is possible there was a faint “beep” as my book and I passed through security but, when I looked behind me, there was no one in pursuit.

I read my lovely book for a week before thinking to check the website. It said I had one day left to pick it up or lose my place in the queue of people who wanted it. They had no idea I already had it. Technically, I’d nicked it. I was a Library Thief.

Given the reverence in our family for books and public libraries, this was like stealing from the church collection plate. I was both hot and bothered. But I hadn’t been caught yet. So it was back to the scene of the crime the next day with the book secreted about my person. Pretty sure I heard a faint beep as I passed through security but that may have been nerves.

Once safely at the self-service checkout, I hummed with faux cheer, tucking the “due back by” slip (they’re still a thing) inside the cover, and ostentatiously waved the book about as I left, privately noting a definite lack of security beep.

Many of us, I think, have been hot and bothered at a library – usually over unpaid fines and lost books. It can be hard to keep track of what your kid has checked out and where they’ve put them (let’s blame the kids for minute) and a whacking great fine can put you off visiting for weeks.

Which is why I am delighted to hear many libraries around the country are doing away with late fees entirely. They mean little to those who can afford them, but they’re enough to put off the most disadvantaged. Many libraries are finding that, with fines forgiven and abandoned, people who had stopped borrowing are coming back, and books they never expected to see again are turning up.

They still want you to actually check them out, though. So I’m relieved I got away with my book heist – or “fixed it”, depending on the generosity of your view.

 

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06 Dec Your Cat Is Tracking You (probably not in a creepy way…)

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 6.12.21

 

On a pretty regular basis I will read about a fancy piece of research reported in what I still call “the newspaper” (by which I mean a reputable source on my phone) and I think, Yeah, I could have told them that.

Not in a smug way, more in an affirming way – like, if their scientific deductions tally with my lived experience, then they’re probably onto something, well done.

Recently, for example, The Guardian ran a story about how cats are brainier than we think, and let me tell you this absolutely resonates with what I’m observing round my house with our cat, Satchmo.

First, meet Satchmo, our nine-year-old black and white rescue cat, named after legendary jazz musician, Louis Armstrong. Our Satchmo (the name is a derivation of “satchel mouth”, a reference to how Mr Armstrong’s cheeks looked when blowing the trumpet) doesn’t play any instruments but he is a very cool cat with an unmistakeable jazz vibe.

Shortly before stumbling across the Guardian report from the University of Kyoto about smart cats, I’d been regaling my husband with news of Satchmo’s latest cleverness. Despite (or because of?) spending his first months in a rubbish dump, Satchmo has developed refined tastes, including a preference for filtered water.

Of late, he has taken to sitting at the apex between his water bowl outside and me in the kitchen, looking from me to the bowl and back again until I open the door and freshen his supply. Clever, right? Superb communication skills.

Of course, as soon as I’d reported this, I turned back to see that Satchmo was lapping up water from the guttering of the sliding door. You can take the cat out of the rubbish dump…

Still, I’m not a scientist and the people at the University of Kyoto are. What they’ve uncovered is that cats use a type of socio-spatial cognition to track their humans, so they know where we are at all times. It’s an understanding of “object permanence”, meaning cats can do what human babies work out in the first year of life – that even when you stop seeing something (the doll, the mother) you know it still exists.

They put 50 cats in a room – separately, not together, are you mad? – and played a recording of their owner (staff) calling them from outside the room on the right. Then suddenly they played their owner’s voice from a speaker inside the room on the left – and each cat was visibly startled at the possibility their person had teleported into the room. This business of picturing you even when they can’t see you suggests high cognitive processes.

Like I say, I could have told them this. Satchmo constantly pictures things he cannot see currently in his bowl. He knows the cat treats are somewhere – specifically they are in the pantry, third shelf up, on the left, next to the almonds mummy has in a bag that makes exactly the same noise when it’s being opened so he comes running and we both have a treat because otherwise he has some special sad eyes he can stare at you with for a long time.

Since we’ve been constantly home since August, I’ve noticed that what our cat is currently using this human tracking skill for is to get away from us. Never a lap-cat, he was usually a “near-by” cat, slipping into my office while I was working or climbing onto our bed in the night. Now he is deftly placing himself in whatever room we are not in. Clever boy.

 

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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.

 

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