It’s been two years since we sat around the table lapping up all the traditions of an English Christmas, family, turkey, laughter, wine, children giggling and adults squabbling. I for one have always been a lover of tradition. Waking up on Christmas morning with my mum and brother launching ourselves down the stairs (yes even at 21) to see if the big man had delivered. Of course, like every year before that, he had. The 25th of December is my favourite day on the calendar and the day that always holds the most magic. So naturally, spending our last two Christmases on the road, on the other side of the world has been anything but traditional.
Last year we celebrated in Australia and whilst all of our intentions were good, the day ended up passing by in a blur of beaches, sweating whilst cooking, trying to make everyone else happy kind of a blur. So this year, despite the absence of our loved ones I was determined to make it a much more magical and joyful Christmas. The aim was to be as present as possible, take the day as it came and enjoy every single minute.
So, as I begin to type this out on the evening of Christmas Day 2019, I must say that today has been one of the most delightful days I’ve had since we left England 2 years ago. This post is more of a memory for myself to read back on and indulge on the love I felt today but I hope you enjoy it too.
A Slow Run Up to Christmas
I’ve always been a bit of a planner. I swear by having a good plan and in my career as a nurse, I love working through a process to get to answer or at least try to. In my travels over the last couple of years, I’ve planned everything from which roads to take to how much every detail is going to cost. For me, Christmas has never been any different. Especially last year when we found ourselves hosting for some friends. Though I didn’t vocalise my specific plans I certainly had a timely plan for how I thought the day should go and for the most part, the day went quite swimmingly but I felt like I was tied to time. This is a huge area of my mindset that I’ve worked hard on this year so for this Christmas, I knew it was time to ditch the plans and see what happens
I was told that Wellington, although it’s been blessed with sunshine for the last few Christmases, can be very hit and miss with the weather. It’s either scorching or miserable and you never really can plan until the day or very last minute. This notion was pretty great when it came to me wanting to play things by ear. We were either getting a hot beach day kinda Christmas or a cosy cuddly one inside. Both sound idyllic so I let mother nature decide on that one.
It was this decision that lead us to enjoy a slow run-up to Christmas, in a good way. I didn’t do any food shopping until the 23rd and only had cards to send to England this year. Instead of getting myself all stressed about how I wasn’t sending presents I was comforted by the fact that I’d made a decision regarding spending that was what we needed this Christmas. It also meant I spent extra time savouring the presents I did buy for David as I really do love Christmas shopping aspect of Christmas.
14 Degrees, Cloudy and Windy…
As the big day got nearer it was evident that a BBQ on the beach for two wasn’t going to be the likely winner. Instead, we opted for a day inside full of delicious home-cooked food and board games.
Creating New Traditions
With the fridge fully stocked with food and wine, we were ready for that cosy indoor Christmas for two. The best thing about Christmas with a blank canvas is the opportunity to create new traditions. As the sun crept in through the gap in the curtains we made a piping hot brew to snuggle down with back in bed. As the big kids that we are, we then opened our presents in bed with our brews to hand, Micheal Buble playing in the background. There was something especially childhood like about opening presents in bed despite having never done that before. I don’t know if we’ll keep this notion as a ‘tradition’ but for this year it was certainly special.
A tradition I do want to keep though is the Christmas morning walk we enjoyed post breakfast. After a generous serving of croissants, we took to the outdoors for some fresh sea air along with plenty of other fellow travellers. The harbour front in Welly was busier than I expected it but the vibes were wonderful. Smiles shared amongst strangers and the occasional ‘Merry Christmas’ at those brave enough. We nodded at the campers in the car parks feeling like we had a mutual connection whilst being away from home at Christmas. So, when we do return home to England I want Christmas Day walks to be a part of our life – a great excuse to get a puppy right?
After we got home we got stuck into the Prosecco and started on creating the best ever Christmas dinner – with Jamie Oliver’s help of course! We pulled it off pretty well I must say and here’s the proof:
I’m not sure we are up to hosting the more than the two of us just yet but I loved getting in the kitchen making everything from scratch. They often say. You don’t enjoy the food as much if you’re the chefs but today we felt nothing but proud and totally got stuck-in! It’s safe to say. We’ll be eating Turkey for the rest of January but that’s fine by me!
We finished our Christmas Day off with the new tradition of catching up with our loved ones over FaceTime as they begin their Christmas Days in the United Kingdom. Seeing the joy on my little cousin’s faces after they’ve opened all their presents is enough to keep me smiling into the New Year. No matter how far away we are family will always be the most important part of Christmas time for me.
Boxing Day – Bike Rides with a Sea Breeze
After the slow festivities on Christmas Day, it was only right we continued these onto Boxing Day. I felt so lucky to have both days off work this year which as a nurse is so very rewarding. Dave was also off which meant we really got to celebrate Christmas together fully. As the sun shone over Wellington there was only one thing for it, bike riding!
I’ve wanted to head out to Pencarrow Lighthouse for a while now but the wind that engulfs this part of New Zealand always puts us off! Despite the wind though on Boxing Day, we headed out for some fresh air and much-needed exercise! Since travelling Oceania I haven’t been able to get on board with Christmas in the sunshine but on Boxing Day it was welcomed. We rode beside the sea, our skin soaking up the sunshine whilst our legs went round and round.
It was the perfect end, to a perfect Christmas.
Taking Christmas into the New Year
This Christmas Day has been exactly how I want our life to look in the New Year. I want 2020 to be slower, more joyful, creative, full of love and most importantly I want to be more present. It’s something I’ve learnt to do this year and I’m getting better and better at it as each day comes. Less screen time, listening harder and being quieter, is exactly how I’m doing it and I must admit the difference to my mood and mental health is remarkable. Living life in the fast lane used to excite me and a year or two ago and was all I wanted. Thinking back to those thoughts reminds me how okay, it is to change my mind whenever I want to, about anything.
I hope that you’ve had a wonderful Christmas whether your day was filled with festive family fun, or simply you and a loved one drinking a hot cup of cocoa.
Love at Christmas and Beyond,
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