(83 votes, average: 2.83 out of 5)
Thanks for your vote!
Voting on this contest has closed. Thanks to all who voted!
We used to sit on the beach most years and eat lunch at Nana’s. Now I often sit and think of those movies with the colossal families, how aggravating and frustrating the main characters find them and how much everyone watching the movie wishes they had a family just like that one. They wish they had eleven brothers and sisters who fight over everything but in the end stick by their side. They wish they had an Austrian governess teaching them and their siblings solfeggio. They wish they had a bewilderingly extended Greek family who involve themselves in every aspect of their life, eating, drinking and dancing. And the most infuriating thing is that I have a family like these—aunties who throw parties for no reason at all, uncles who are always up for a game, grandmums who cook amazing food, granddads who tell you stories and teach you to drive, and a horde of cousins who are just like best friends—but they left us.
We weren’t like most Kiwi families. When most Kiwis would pack up and spend Christmas in a bach somewhere near the other end of New Zealand, we would stay close to home. We used to sit on the beach. And while most Kiwis who spent Christmas Day on the beach would play cricket, we would play rugby or American football. I didn’t care, as long as we were together.
We used to sit on the beach most years. In the morning, we would change into our holiday uniform of shorts, t-shirts, jandals and sunblock. Vivid red pohutukawa petals carpeted the sand where we would lay our beach towels and umbrellas, symbolizing Kiwi Christmas spirit for a whole nation. The limpid waters would rise and cool my feet, then retreat back in an attempt to draw me into their shallows, where the boys splashed and play-scrapped. And off in the distance over the sea were the New Zealand mountain ranges and little islands no one lives on, barely a haze in the morning air. Just a clouded green for the sun to peak over.
The little relatives would collect seashells and crabs in a bucket, then ask to go play in the park, and leave their pets for mum to watch. The elder relatives would sit under the umbrellas and talk and talk; sometimes the men would get bored and start a rugby match. And the relatives in between would join in, shivering and soaked. After fun and games we would all go to Nana’s house, where she had Christmas lunch waiting for us. But while most Kiwis were quite content with fish and chips or KFC for lunch, we took up the American way and Nana cooked a huge honeyed ham, with potatoes and vegetables, casseroles and kumaras. We would have pies and fruit pavlovas and we would have them as a family. And we would talk and laugh and play. Then we would sit in the family room and talk about Jesus—we would go in a long circle telling everyone else what we were thankful for. Mine was always the same.
Now they are spread out in some distant country. They invited us to come along—parents said no, we like New Zealand. So now we sit on the beach every few years. It looks the same in the summer-time. But there are fewer beach towels on the pohutukawa carpet. There is no boyish noise wafting up from the water where they used to roughhouse. There is no large bucket of crabs and seashells by my side for me to babysit. There are not enough people to play rugby.
So now we don’t often sit on the beach for Christmas. We often wake up early and read stories about the Nativity with a cup of hot milo, because hot drinks make us feel fuzzy feelings no matter the season. We look at our fake Christmas tree as it drops nothing red and we admire the pretty lights. We order fancy takeaways or mum cooks lamb for Christmas lunch. We watch a heart warming Christmas movie that usually has something to do with family or love. And I am reminded of those movies with the big families, knowing how much they have to be grateful for, wishing my family can be together for Christmas once again. Then we go to bed, thankful for all our Christmas blessings.
But we used to sit on the beach most years and eat lunch at Nana’s.