On simplicity of Christmases

It's so good to sit back and think, we've done it well this year.

I mean, don't get me wrong: we've been doing it well for several years already. For pretty much every Christmas that I have had in New Zealand, we've done it well.

In 2009 we got together with a bunch of friends and flatmates, geared up in wetsuits, gathered up anything that floats - tyres, inflatable dolphins... milk cartons - and floated down Clutha River, followed by a leisurely lunch.

In 2010 me and The Man drove to Mount Cook village for a day (I was 5 months pregnant then), walked the track to the Tasman Lake and took it easy. Just like in 2010, there were no presents, no Christmas decorations, no advent calendars, no... fuss, so I remember the Christmas day as an entirely enjoyable, relaxing, time-well-spent holiday.

In 2011 I don't even remember what we did. Given that The Kid was only 8 months old back then, probably not much?

In 2012 we spent our Christmas with a dear friend of mine in Twizel, in a way very similar to what we've done before and that is: relax, walk, bike, eat, laugh and love.

And as much I keep on having to explain to people that no, we do not have a Christmas tree, and no, we haven't put up any decorations (because we simply don't "do" decorations), and no, we have not packed presents (because just like decorations, we don't really "do" presents) - I get a little tickle from knowing that this is exactly how I'm comfortable with.

This year, The Man gave himself a "present" of a fishing trip, and so he spent a day out on the water, fishing and dredging for scallops afterwards. I haven't yet decided what it is I want to treat myself to, but it'll probably be a "popper-machine" and a bunch of poppers I can then use in various craft projects, and fixing The Kid's clothes. I'm still sitting on it =)

I like that we don't have set... holidays and occasions for treating ourselves. Even on our birthdays we usually just buy some yummy food we wouldn't otherwise, or eat out, or maybe buy a cake, but we don't plan (or even have!) sophisticated birthday parties and we don't have presents that are specifically "birthday" presents - we just sort of go through our lives and when there's something either of us feels would be nice to do, or important to do, we talk it through and do it, so we end up "treating" ourselves to various tools or lovely lunches or trips to places on otherwise entirely non-specific occasions.

And as much as I know that it'll probably start changing when The Kid gets older, depending on what he wishes to do - if he wants a party, we'll throw a party! - I like that between me and The Man it's the simple joys of togetherness which are unbounded by societal customs.

Even at our wedding, we didn't promise each other we would stay together forever, didn't get rings that we would carry around on our fingers.

We promised things each of us wanted to promise. Mine was, essentially, a promise that I would stay alongside The Man for as long as I wish, which, I know, may sound a bit... non-committal, but that's only as long as you don't actually think about what it means.

Because here's what it means: it means that every day I wake up next to The Man is the day I choose to wake up next to him, and be with him, and love him, so every day we spend together he can know - and feel, in his heart - that I am here not because of any promises, or commitments I've made, but because I sincerely, actively want it, in the moment, today.

The "bounds" we set upon ourselves on our wedding day are ribbons which we spun around each other's wrists whilst holding each other's hands.

The event took place in a park we often walked to, under a walnut tree (or was it chestnut? I'm getting it mixed up...), with three and a half guests - a flatmate, a friend, a brother and a dog (he's the one I'd say is "half" because he didn't much care for the ceremony, he just liked being out for a walk). It is a place we have often visited, sometimes stopping under that tree to "remember", but sometimes just walking around and playing by the swings because this is what we do - to us, that park is a place where everyday happens.

We still have those ribbons we spun around each other's hands at our wedding - they're tucked away in an envelope which will one day maybe go up in one of our family photo frames; we'll see. But that's not really the point - the point is, I like the simplicity of commitment which comes in simple moments of everyday life. I know that The Man being a carpenter is one of the reasons we chose not to get rings - because being without rings makes his hands safer around power tools - but even setting that aside, I know that it was more than just circumstances.

I really do like the life I am living. Not all of it, always, and not always in its entirety for there are many things I'd like to do differently and strive towards even as we speak - but I like that within our little family unit here we have this quiet, shared attitude towards what the significance of cultural customs is, and that we keep on trying to live in a way that is comfortable, to us.

Live and let live.

I hope you have, too, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas, in whatever shape or form your Christmases come at.


  1. Maria, in answer to your question on my blog (figured I'd answer here so you'd be sure to see it). I don't go to church unless invited to something by friends (christenings etc), but I live my life how I believe God would like me to. I'm kind to my fellow humans and to animals; I try to do good when I see an opportunity. I believe he's watching what I do, but won't interfere and that it's up to me to earn my place at his side. I don't believe that going to a church is going to earn me that place; I've known too many Sunday Christians to believe that.
    I pray to him sometimes, but not too often. Sometimes to ask for help to cope with things and sometimes to say "Thank-you"

  2. On Christmas for me, it is the birthday of Christ and I also look on it as a celebration of friends and family. There are presents for the kids; not supposed to be presents for the adults, but Dh's parents and sister conveniently forget that every year. It's a day I try to get through gracefully at MIL's place and don't always quite succeed as well with as I'd like due to being out of my comfort zone (I like quiet; Dh's family is not good at quiet, especially the nephews). I do find it a little odd that so many Christmas cards now do not have any ties to what Christmas is supposed to be celebrating; all jolly Santa, snowy scenes or present piles. What happened to the cards with the manger, the wise men and the shepherds?
    Can't remember what I ticked on the census form; if asked if I'm religious I say exactly what I said on your blog ages ago "I believe in God, not church", for some reason that seems to stop most people in their tracks; possibly as it's not conventional, but at the same time doesn't allow people to try and convert me to worshiping God. I'm comfortable with my belief system and I think God is too.

  3. No Christmas tree? No wrapping dozens and dozens of gifts? No opening all those gifts Christmas morning? You guys are missing out......bigtime