Today was Christmas day and as we have done for the last several years we gathered at my sister Diana's house for the day.
To save an early start, my mother went over the night before and stayed. Tessa, my wife, Tessa's mother and I arrived around 8:30 AM. Although she runs her own baking business these days, Tessa is a fully qualified and experienced professional chef and she she insists she prepares and cooks the turkey. She soon had it stuffed and in the oven.
Then it was outside to enjoy a breakfast of Diana's home made bagels on the porch. In New Zealand, December is summer and we are having one of the first really hot days of this year's summer. Sitting on the porch was great. It was a small gathering this year, just Diana, her two children, our mother, me, Tessa, Tessa's mum and our cousin's adult daughter.
After breakfast the children wanted to see their gifts (and I suspect some of the adults did too) so it was inside for the presents to be passed out. The kids loved their presents .. mostly games for their playstation and a couple of Harry Potter DVDs. The adults gifts were more mundane, but were appreciated, Tessa got given a couple of cookbooks (I think she has them all now) and a food dehydrator which she went into raptures about ... she's been dropping hints about wanting one for a few months.
I have two brothers, one in Sydney and the other in England. The both usually phone during the day, the one in England did, but got a really bad phone line so he's going to phone Mum tonight. No word from the one in Sydney, but he'll probably phone in the evening.
Then on to the Christmas dinner. Traditional roast turkey with potato, kumera (a local sweet potato), onion, broccoli, asparagus and salad. The meal was tasty and enjoyed by all. After lunch Tessa made a devastating discovery. Her mother is an insulin dependent diabetic and while the rest home had sent her insulin with her, they had forgotten to pack the needles! Fortunately we were able to obtain one and didn't have to return to the rest home on the other side of Auckland (about an hour round trip) to get it. I can tell you we were really panicking
Next on the agena was dessert. Tessa had made a diabetic trifle which was delicious and my mother had provided a traditional Christmas pudding. A small amount of brandy was poured over the pudding and my niece tried to light it using my childproof cigarette lighter. For the first time I can remember the childproofing worked and I had to light it then try to pass it to her already lit ... it only took three goes.
Finally the kids got to play with their presents and the adults could relax over coffee. Diana and I fixed her son's bicycle, somehow the chain had come off the front derallier and wedged between the gear assembly and the frame but with a lot of jiggling and a modicum of force we freed it so he can enjoy the bike during the summer holidays.
Then finally with farewells like we would never see each other again we left to take our mothers home.
It's good to have these get togethers and it always seems a shame that we do them so seldom. It's also a little sad that two brothers are so far away, but we always think about them and often talk on the day. Family is the most important thing there is.
Originally published on Qondio