Meri Kirihimite from Aotearoa

Today is Saturday December 24, Christmas Eve. Kia ora!

What a strange time this is. This morning we learnt that one of our sons has diagnosed positive for Covid 19. I learnt last Sunday during a Church service that his daughter had diagnosed positive. Since then his son has had Covid 19 too (again), but he himself was hanging out – until today. We were supposed to have a family gathering at his house – tomorrow. 

This morning Santa made a special early delivery to his house. I dressed up in my red raincoat and Santa hat, and delivered a hamper with Christmas goodies.  We spoke to them outside, where it was hot and sticky, and the children opened their presents.

After that we went shopping to New World in Thorndon. It was busy there, but not as busy as before the Covid 19 pandemic.  Stone fruit was plentiful. We bought salads, bread, lettuce and raspberries.

Tomorrow we are planning to have a picnic with my other son who lives locally and his partner and children. I had a negative Covid 19 RAT test this morning; I’m hoping that tomorrow we, the rest, will all be all right.

Late this evening we are to go to a Carol service, and then church is on quite early tomorrow.

It is a very strange time, marked by bursts of extreme fatigue, activity, and anxiety, and then periods where nothing much happens. I’m now thinking what do I need to do that I haven’t done as yet, now that I may have more time to do things I had previously thought unnecessary.

I am sending Christmas wishes to many folk, for whom I have email addresses. I should have composed a newsletter, but it’s too late now, and I don’t have everyone’s email address. Previously, I haven’t sent wishes unless someone messaged me first.

It’s now Christmas Day, Sunday December 25.

Last night we watched a movie on Te Whakaata Māori about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol. Christopher Plummer was a very good Scrooge, but I found the movie quite scary, and a bit maudlin towards the end.

Then we went to a candlelit carol service for Christmas Eve at 11:15 pm. This was a lovely service. We sang many carols to the accompaniment of the magnificent organ. I felt at the time that this was one of the things the church does best. I whispered to JD (who came) that one could almost imagine oneself in Nȏtre Dame, or the magnificent cathedral in  Toulouse where we went to mass in the early 1970’s.

Afterwards we went home and I slept really well.

This morning Christmas Day dawned fine and warm, with a slight breeze, but thankfully not too hot, a beautiful day.

This morning there was to be a church service at 9:30 am, 30 minutes earlier than usual.  I did get there on time, but didn’t have time to ring or message anyone first.  There was a lot of talk about the shepherds visiting the new born baby Jesus, before the Magi came.  An angel had appeared to them. This reminded me of one of the two Christmas plays that are performed at Hōhepa Hawkes Bay each December: the Paradise Play, and the Shepherds Play. I have seen them both, and found them very moving, especially the Shepherds Play.  I really miss these events now that Covid deprives us of such gatherings. My daughter’s birthday is early in December, and usually we can attend one of the plays. The residents really enjoy these plays. As the minister said this morning, although the story of Jesus’ birth is an old story, it becomes new for us every year.

This year my son in the UK tells us that ambulances will not go to people who’ve broken limbs, or to women in labour. At last night’s service I wondered about Mary giving birth to hr first born son; who helped, I wonder?  Even if the birth is “normal”, it’s still quite painful and messy, usually. Perhaps the innkeepers’ wife knew a midwife, who could help. We’re not told. I had five children, and I was very glad to accept experienced medical, sometimes specialist, assistance with each birth. I find the lack of compassion in the UK just astounding, where the Tory government seem tone deaf to these very human situations.  They seem to concentrate on ambulance drivers as being the focal point of industrial action, whereas the problems go much deeper than that.

After church I talked to several people, and then waited for JD to pick me up. There was no morning tea this morning!  When we got home, there was quite a lot to do: first we rang our daughter; then I needed to wrap more Christmas presents, pack up picnic stuff, and fill the thermos flask with proper coffee. I also needed to get changed out of my pretty dress which I had worn to church.

Actually I needn’t have taken much food, although much of what I did take complemented the beautiful food our son had brought.  We went to Battle Hill Farm Park – a beautiful place. Our son had found a good spot, with a table under cover. There was virtually no one there apart from us – we were quite private. We sat around a spacious table, and enjoyed the food and drink: a wide spread of delicious things to eat.

After lunch we went for a walk to feed the eels. There are big eels there, and they’re very bold!  There are ducks too. 

After this someone had taken our previous spot, so the cars were moved and we had dessert (yes!) at another picnic table: a delicious chocolate brownie and cream, with some left over strawberries. There were M&M’s in the brownie too.

The children unwrapped their Rubik’s cube game, which didn’t need batteries, and proved to be quite a hit.  After this, we drove home, through the complicated roundabouts that connected Pauatahanui with the Transmission Gully highway. This does seem unnecessarily complicated – you certainly need someone to navigate as well as drive. Roundabouts are complex:  you certainly need to know where you’re going.

The messages and photographs continue, as it becomes Christmas Day around the world. I feel like the Very Hungry Caterpillar: I’ve eaten rather too well, and just feel like eating a lettuce leaf now.

In China, Covid 19 is rampant, after authorities have relaxed their very strict quarantine regulations.  They’re not highly vaccinated, and haven’t been exposed to Covid 19 like we in the West have been; we’ve learnt to live with it, frustrating as it is; but it’s good to be free to go places and do things again.

That’s it for now. Despite Covid 19, I still think we’re better off here, as we feel for the US suffering a dreadful storm and outages; the UK suffering strikes, inflation, and a “winter of discontent”; the Chinese suffering from Covid 19, and the poor Ukrainian people, suffering extreme cold and outages of power and water, as well as rocket attacks. I’m sure there are many others suffering at this time, as we celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, the wonderful birth of Jesus Christ.

Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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