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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Good King Wenceslaus looked out ...

...on the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight gath'ring winter fuel."

Holy mistletoe, Batman, it's almost Christmas!

It just doesn't feel like it, though. No, I'm not down in the dumps or anything because it's the holidays, I'm actually excited about them. Even though Thanksgiving went by without incident down here in Kiwi-land (for obvious reasons), I still am getting into that festive holiday spirit.

Sort of.

You see, it's WARM outside right now. It's actually hailing outside at the moment, for gosh sakes. There isn't that crisp winter chill in the air, and there certainly isn't any snow on the ground here in Wellington (anymore), and it's even melted on the mountaintops in the distance. Well, it's either melted or been blown off the mountain by these gale force winds we are having here. Hoo boy!

I suppose this is what people who live in Florida or Texas back in the States must go through every Christmas. That disconnect between seeing all those holiday classics on television like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Charlie Brown's Christmas", what with all their snow and carolers and guardian angels and the like, and then looking outside only to see palm trees and sunshine and a total lack of snow. Growing up near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (representin' ya, Lynchburg!) I guess I was a bit spoiled because I had the classic 'white Christmas' so much I've come to expect it. Not that it would actually snow on Christmas day, mind you, we weren't that cliche a town, but we'd often have had enough snow at that point that when it came time to open the presents Santa had left us, we'd be able to play out in the snow later that day, a la Calvin & Hobbes.

And don't waste your time trying to tell me Santa ain't real, cuz he is dammit! I've long since grown out of believing in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny (cha, as if), but come on, Santa Claus really exists people. Just check this linkie here if you don't believe me - they're Canadians, they live in Santa's 'hood, they would know!

But the inevitable signs of Christmas are still there, even without the white stuff, so I'm all excited to attend my very first Christmas Barbie this year! No, dammit, not like Malibu Barbie, but barbie as in barbecue! Granted, I didn't put "barbie" in my Kiwi-English dictionary, so you are forgiven for any confusion. But from here on out, I'm giving partial credit only.

I was walking through downtown Wellington the other day, on my way to meet someone for coffee, and lo and behold, what do ya know, I ran smack into a full-on Christmas parade! Granted, they didn't have gregarious Macy's-style floats or anything (which is a good thing, too - all this Wellington wind would turn that giant SpongeBob Squarepants into one deadly zeppelin!), but it was very cool to see the Kiwis getting into the spirit of things.

They had all the usual themes represented: snowmen, Santa and his elves, high school drum corps, pirates, Disney characters. Well, I don't know how the pirates got in there, but then again turning up when least expected is the sort of thing they do, isn't it? At least they didn't appear to be hijacking any of the other floats and seemed quite happy to be tossing bits of 'booty' to the kids in the crowd.

One other thing about Christmas down here that I find cool is that the Kiwis really go for those Christmas crackers. What are those, you may ask? Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret! I think it's a secret, anyways, because I don't know of anyone else back in the States who enjoys these things as much as my family does, so maybe you'll learn something new.

Christmas crackers are basically these small cardboard cylinders (I didn't want to say empty toilet paper roll centers, but that's essentially what they are) that are wrapped in festive paper, twisted at each end. Connected to the paper and inside the cylinder are these weak little gunpowder caps, so that when you open the cracker, it makes a proper 'cracking' sound and this makes it all official and all that. Inside there is always a piece of paper with a lame joke on it (where do you think I get all of my best material?), a colored paper crown, and a plastic or metal toy or gadget of some kind. These toys are the ones that used to come in boxes of Cracker Jacks before they got decidedly less cool, and sometimes they're actually pretty useful! I still have the miniature screwdriver set that I use to tighten those impossibly small screws on my sunglasses whenever they get loose. Hey don't laugh, it's saved me from having to buy a new pair on several occasions!

So the crackers, along with plum puddings and Christmas cakes, are yet further examples of British traditions celebrated down here in New Zealand that are mysteriously absent back in the States. They are probably here and there in pockets of the States but by no means do they seem as mainstream to me as they do here. I think once we finished off the British in the Revolutionary War we must have dumped a lot of British traditions like these along with them. Sort of why we don't celebrate Boxing Day, Guy Fawkes Day, and of course the Queen's birthday anymore.

Not that we should, mind you! I like American traditions just fine. I'm just glad there'll be a few things done differently down here this year so that will help me take my mind off of how much I miss everyone and everything back home.

Happy Holidays, people!

2 Comments:

Blogger Beechball * said...

Oh I love to hear about anything Christmas! I, too, am not quite into the spirit just yet (too much school work coming due and such) but I am trying to kickstart it with my new blog (sorry about the weirdness of it) and the nightly lighting of my indoor christmas lights... which I haveup all year round, lol. I love Christmas and I am almost done my shopping so as soon as that's done, i'll be able to sit back and relax. And like you and my best friend last year being in Australia... I am super glad to be in a place where Christmas has snow; it wouldn't be the same without it. Hope you get some for Christmas!

1:34 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Lyndsay you are so funny, with your Xmas lights up all year round - you truly have the Christmas spirit! That's really cool actually. Your recent blog template makeover has gotten me thinking about trying one over here, but I don't have anything specific planned just yet. Fingers crossed for a little snow this December 25th, but I'll most likely be wearing sunblock instead!

9:14 PM  

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