Saturday, 28 December 2013

A Kiwi Christmas

Christmas at the Downey household
Christmas is that magical time of the year where everyone should dream a little. Ever since I was a little boy, Christmas has probably been my favourite holiday.
As a kid, the presents was obviously a big reason for that. However in later years, it's been more about the holiday itself. About getting the ice skates down from the attic. About putting on a long scarf and walk around the Christmas markets, sipping mulled wine. About seeing the Christmas parade make its way through town and the lights on the Christmas tree being switched. About holding someones hand when the Coca-Cola truck cruises by. About sitting in front of the fireplace, just watching the flames.

That's Christmas to me. Magic.

The view from my parents house in Ă…ros (Norway) on a late December afternoon.
Norway is very much like in many of the Christmas films we're used to seeing on the telly in December. Snow covered roof tops, below freezing temperatures and Christmas trees everywhere. It's truly magical (when it's snowing). My mother have always been obsessed with Christmas and decorations. She starts decorating the house 1st of December, the latest. We're not only taking a few Santas here and there, no no no. We're talking new curtains, table cloths, napkins, candles, over 130 Santas and loads more. By mid December the entire house has only one thing to say: Christmas. Even the toilet upstairs will have a red carpet and Christmas toilet paper. You can't really escape it. And I honestly don't mind.

But to me, the build up to Christmas is the best part. When I lived in Swansea, I used to LOVE walking around town in December, looking at the Christmas stalls, the smells and noises. The chill in the air combined with lovely Christmas tunes, magical. Or when the first snow falls and covers the entire country. You can smell it. Snow. It's got a special smell and you can sense it. If you're not from a country up North, you probably think I've lost my marbles claiming that. But trust me, one can smell snow. Skiing. My favourite winter activity in Norway. Just cruising down the hills whilst listening to great tunes.

Then it's the typical Christmas parties with family and friends that follows. With more food and Christmas dinner than what is sensible. But all the buzzing, the busyness, I like it. It's Christmas.

The six kids and I on Christmas day.
This year was the first year I weren't home for Christmas. It felt quite odd and a little bit sad, but I did celebrate it with people I care about. I was fortunate enough to get four days off from work, so I went down to Tauranga to celebrate Christmas with my "kiwi-family". When I was living down there, I became really close to one family. So when my "kiwi-mum" invited me down for Christmas, I was thrilled.
A family Christmas. After a stupid amount of chicken and roasted vegetables, we finished off with cake and ice cream. So as for meals, not much difference from back home.

On Christmas Day we all sat down and opened up our presents. My family back in Norway had sent down a couple parcels a few weeks in advance, so I got to open something from home.

On Christmas Eve, three friends and I met up for a drink and then later went to the beach to make sand angels. Fun times!

All in all, I'd say I had a great Christmas. It might not have been what I'm used to, but it was still Christmas. It's very unusual not having snow and cold around me at this time of the year, but it's an experience. What is my favourite? Northern hemisphere, definitely! Christmas should always be filled with snow.

But for now, Merry Christmas!