Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In the Beaut Midsummer

[NB: This post was being written on Christmas Eve proper, before a two-hour power cut cancelled proceedings and sent the Simian family instead to a candle-lit evening in front of an open fire. There's an irony in here, somewhere]

Santa's pants - or maybe just two red towels? Wellington, December 23rd 2013
It's Christmas Eve here in Wellington - happy festive season, wherever you are.

Sort of early apologies to my northern hemisphere readers who may be at this moment either waking up to the Eve, or even attempting to make their way to work (shudder)before a brief midwinter holiday, and then another one for New year's. Weird - how do you people do it?

Down here of course it's the middle of summer - although with today's weather you'd be surprised to hear that. Christmas in the middle of summer brings its own dilemmas for this simple Simian. Somewhere between curmudgeonly tut-tutting at the proliferation of cheap imported winter-themed tat, fake snow shopping displays and culinary stodge, and half-embarrassingly giving in to the whole upside-down tradition. The sad fact is, Christian observations aside, we're caught once again (as with Halloween) in the wrong hemisphere to be celebrating a mid-seasonal feast (hence the stodge) to keep the past literal wolf from the door. Down here, laden down with the obligatory ham, turkey, force meat and fruity pudding we'd be wolf-dinner rather too easily in the heat.

Really, it's a ridiculous premise, the tradition of fortifying oneself against the hardship of a long winter in the middle of summer with orchards and fields groaning with produce. Mind you, with cherries currently at over $11 a kilo... but I digress. Next Christmas, after grumbling about this to anyone who can't get out of earshot, I'm actually going to do something about it at the Simian abode. The Christmas pine can be replaced by a Pohutukawa, the holly and berries can feel the steel cap of my monkey boot and be exchanged for brilliant red and orange karaka berries (that puts paid to the 'pukeko up a ponga tree' nonsense as well - with karaka come the kereru or wood pigeon - even mid-winter a much more appetising bird), and latter-day cuckoo of Santa's retinue Rudolph the Red-nosed earworm Reindeer can give up his 'Sant-Nav' duties for local upstart Stickybeak the Kiwi. There - job done, and we can give a boost to our own endangered species of mistletoe too, while we're at it.

So, you see, this isn't just jingoism - it's a plea for regional diversity and putting a bit of local context into a seasonal observation that's laughably beyond irony wearing its wool-lined Santa hat in the sweltering afternoon sun. It's right and good that there are versions already about - Christmas cards can be found locally and easily with sun-kissed beaches, board-shorted Santas and pohutukawa in flower jostling alongside snowmen and red-breasted robins, and local versions aren't hard to find, really - as strings of brilliant colourful jandal tree-lights indicate. Enough of this seasonal denial, I say - let's band with our Trans-Tasman cousins and claim a proper summer Christmas with no denial!

[NB: This blog does agree with local mid-winter Christmas parties too, because they are aces]


  1. And now claim that Santa was a Maori, just for added fun!

  2. 'Zat you, Hana Koro?


  3. Oh brilliant. And now I have a chest cold. The Christmas gods are spiteful and full of vengeance.