It took a pocket full of dog biscuits to persuade our pair to pose for a festive snap down in the meadow. From left to right, Sharon, Kevin, elderly and deaf Spike and food-focused Dudley at the front. The story of how and why the reindeer are known as Kevin and Sharon is a family joke that may well be lost in the retelling.
I had always regarded our Christmases as a traditional affair – our own traditions adapted for an antipodean summer season – the preparation, the food, the protocols of how the day must proceed. We are lucky in that our children continued to place a high priority on coming home for Christmas well into adulthood, even when it meant exorbitantly expensive, festive season, international airfares. I figured that they came home for those very family traditions.
But times change, and this year only one could get back. And it made me realise how our family traditions gently evolve, particularly with regards to food. Mark and I are about 90% vegetarian nowadays but returning daughter made it very clear that the Christmas ham was non-negotiable. When I realised this, it created a problem. Of all the meats, the industrial production of pork distresses me so it had to be a free-farmed ham. It was a mission, I tell you, to find a free-farmed ham that was not so large that it would feed 40 people. I think I may have found the last small sized one in town. I was triumphant.
It was doing the final Christmas shop that made me realise how much we had changed the way we eat. We are determinedly reducing the amount of packaging and plastic that comes into our house. And apparently our taste buds change. So that final shop was heavily focused on tropical fruits and good cheeses. And a better class of wine than we used to drink when we were younger and poorer. While we produce the greater part of the food we eat these days (and at least the raspberries are our own), the likes of mangoes, pomegranate and tropical pineapples are beyond us unless we build a tropical house. Nor do we have the right climate to produce peaches and apricots that are shipped here from drier parts of the country with hotter summers. This is now a household that is light on chocolate and junk food, very light on meat but we can offer plenty of good cheese and fruit and wine! And ethical ham….
Seasons greetings and may your festive season be full of laughs, love, companionship and good cheer.
A New Zealand Christmas post would not be complete without a photo of what we call the New Zealand Christmas tree that grows all round the area where we live and flowers at this time – our pohutukawa or Metrosideros excelsa. We prefer it to the prickly holly.