The Holidays

Its hard to write when you aren’t alone. So I guess it is no surprise that over the past two weeks I’ve written nothing at all. That doesn’t mean I was uninspired or out of ideas, but I need solitude to actually make something come out of this brain of mine.

It was our first Christmas just the two of us, and while I think Chris was sad and a little lonely for family, I’m still excited by new traditions forming and slow relaxed pace. I did miss the chaos and noise, but I guess next year we will more than make up for it all.

For New Years we went down to Dunedin–the city where Chris and I met. We spent the evening apart, as he had a stag thing to do, but the rest of the trip we wandered around reminiscing about where it (meaning our love–queue sappy music) all started.

In terms of tourism, I feel like Dunedin could probably occupy about 2 days of your time just wandering around the city (although I use that term loosely) and using it as a base to look at a few nature-esk things.

We had fish and chips (the fish is under there I swear)

up at the top of Signal Hill like we had previously.

Chris told me the first time I was polite, and the second time I told him I hated nature. It was a lovely day (actually Dunedin played a nasty trick on us by being warm and sunny for our entire trip) and I enjoyed the company and view.

If you make it down, the only pub I can recommend you go to is Inch bar. I love this place so much. It feels a bit like a hobbit hole, and they have a new owner since I was there. They have also expanded to have a stage. Yes–electric violin the night I was there. Pure bliss.

The reason for the trip was really our friend’s wedding. It was stunning. Nature was their main decorative theme, and we gathered around in this basen-like-hill place (I’m sure there is some technical geological term for it) in a place called Karitane (just 30min from Dunedin) and watched them hike towards us to a German singing over the rainbow on the ukulele.

It was stunning.

The food later was amazing.

Don’t mind my pissed off face, I didn’t know what Chris was doing with my phone…

Also, this is New Zealand, so it wouldn’t be complete without a visit from SHEEP. I love sheep so much.

I couldn’t think of any good New Year’s resolutions. I tend to not have any, but I’m still thinking…

Obligatory Thanks Giving Post

I know its a day early here in New Zealand, and it is two days early for the USA, but things will be a bit busy on the day, and I was told if you can’t be on-time, be early.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year–you wouldn’t think it from a vast majority of my complaining–but things are actually quite good. But before I dive into some long laundry list I’d like to take a moment to consider Thanksgiving outside the USA.

Growing up, my family wasn’t big on celebrating random USA holidays, and I remember the infamous story of either my sister or I asking my mother on what day we were supposed to celebrate the 4th of July–I’m sure she laughed, but the answer really was that we didn’t. But we did always have Thanksgiving. We’d order incredibly expensive and hard to find turkey (when we could find it, since turkey is not popular at all in Japan–one for now, and then one for Christmas later) and invite everyone we knew. We almost always hosted, and we would gather students, missionaries and randoms–most of whom were not american. My sister and I always helped (and I hope it was help and not getting in the way). It wasn’t about a family gathering. It was gathering people and eating.

I can’t remember the last thanksgiving I had with my family. I celebrated approximately 4 in the USA, one for each year of university. It has always been important to me though. The first time I decided to host Thanksgiving, completely on my own, was actually here in New Zealand, and it was also the first time I celebrated it with Chris. Despite being British, he has completely and utterly embraced the holiday albeit a strange morphed version which I grew up with. No where else in the world has the week off, so often I’d have to take a day off to cook along–and last year I was so stressed all I could manage was to walk across the street to the local pub and order a disappointing turkey meal with new friends.

One thanksgiving action I regret, is that someone I didn’t know once got left out. I still kick myself to this day for it. I didn’t know her, and I was told later I made things awkward since everyone else in the office was invited bar her. I keep replaying it thinking how to fix it. But drama will always happen, and all I can do is swear that next time a few unknowns feel free enough to pop in dragged by their friends who I do know. Because that is the point.

So what is thanksgiving to me? Its an excuse for a party. Its when you get to invite people to your house and cook. I miss the family element. The delegation of duties between the three of us girls. I’ve never done the ‘thankful’ bit aloud. It always seemed a bit too much like bragging. So I’ll make my list in my head.

Now I must start the prep work. Not just the cooking but buying enough plates so that people don’t have to eat with their hands.

Surprise and Home

We had 10 hours in front of us now, and so we turned up the audio book–David Eddings if you must know–and tried to stay sane for that amount of time. Once we hit Washington State it was annoying highways, but we were unwilling to sacrifice time for the visual pleasure of trees. The best part of all was in the morning before we set off, pressing that ‘home’ button on the navi.

Home has always been a very loaded term for me. People ask about home in terms of where you grew up, where your family is based, or even your ethnic makeup. I was going ‘home’ now, for the first time, to a home I’d never been to. It was exciting. Even now, when people ask me where home is (or for small talk, where are you from) I say Seattle, Renton. It seems most people think that ‘home’ is something stationary. Its not. It moves, can be two or three places at once and really has no limits. Or that could just be the traveler in me.

Anyway we arrive at something which looks like a picture I saw online. I catch sight of my family name, and I boldly approach the door and knock with authority.

I hear a small scurrying sound, and the door hesitantly slides open and I catch a glimpse of my sister’s face. She screams twice and slams the door in my face. I laugh and laugh and am so pleased by the level of surprise. Its been about 6 months since I’ve seen her.

Eventually she opens the door again still screaming, and I know that all is well. Later that night I pull a similar trick on my mom who we are picking up from the airport. I hide, and after the rest of the expected family greets her, I pounce! More screaming.

It was worth the rush.