A colleague who had been living in NZ for about thirty years, told me shortly after my arrival in New Zealand, he loved the country but that he was always homesick at Christmas time. He could not help thinking about his native Scotland, with short and cold days, as well as anything that evokes the holidays in this part of the world.
As I myself was suffering from homesickness, I gave up the fight against this feeling that came over me without fail, as soon as I saw a Christmas tree and I heard a song linked directly or indirectly to holidays. I made great efforts to forget that it was Christmas. I was trying to go to the beach and tried to avoid any reference to Christmas.
In 2011, I was in Nelson. On December 24th, everyone met in the evening at the foot of the cathedral that overlooks the city. People had lit candles and were singing Christmas carols in the dark. Then, everyone celebrated with a drink around midnight, in the heat of the night. The next day we went to the beach, with a glass of white wine. From that moment, the magic started to operate for me.
I guess what now makes me love the holidays here is that it seems easier to forget the whole consumerist aspects tied to this time of year and that is probably why I increasingly like my summery Christmas, when one does not eat, drink or consume too much, and focuses instead on the nice weather, the holidays, the sea, friends and family. It is all the more the case here that Christmas and the summer holidays coincide. It may be the reason why the focus is less on Christmas itself (the downside being that we miss a second opportunity to have a break during the year)