We had a wonderful sunny Christmas with good company yesterday, complete with a barbecue, cricket, playing with lots of littles, drinking lots of champagne, soaking in the hot tub under a clear starry night, and ending with Matt bagging hist first possum on a late-night expedition with Merv! All in all, a wonderful time!
Matt and I had agreed that we weren't going to give each other presents this Christmas, but I couldn't resist and filled his stocking with a couple treats/souvenirs for both of us, and he was nicely surprised on Christmas morning!
The farm from the road above- cool locale, isn't it?
We headed out to the farm at 11 AM, and met Merv's parents and his brother and sister-in-law and their three kids, as well as Merv's nephew from Darwin, Australia. All in all we had five nationalities represented, since Michele is Canadian by birth, we are from the States, and Merv's sister-in-law Angie is from Austria. Instead of a heavy afternoon meal, the traditional Kiwi summer Christmas meal is a good old "barbie" and lighter food instead of a roast dinner. The Kiwi Christmas also apparently involves a lot of drinking, so there was a steady stream of champagne, wine, beer, and bourbon & coke flowing all day!
Merv, master of the barbecue.
My dinner plate: new potatoes, ham, salmon & pasta salad, green salad, chicken kebabs, sausage, steak, focaccia bread, and chickpea salad.
Dessert: Tip Top ice cream (naturally), fruit, and Angie's incredible homemade tiramisu.
Our youngest Christmas compatriot.
The kids' table, and Buddy, hoping for spills!
The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking, munching on leftovers, chatting, enjoying the sun, and watching Merv, his brother and the older kids partake in a game of cricket/baseball that was very entertaining.
Michele, John, and the youngest girls.
I feel very lucky to have been invited to share in a family Christmas celebration, and we had a wonderful time. The adults were really good fun and we had some great conversations. The children were amazing, very friendly, and hilariously clever. I was given one-year-old duty for awhile, read "The Three Little Pigs" to the 3-year-old, and the two eldest serenaded us with their versions of various Christmas songs, mostly involving Santa getting stuck in the chimney.
After all the relatives took off, the remaining four of us headed out to the wood-fired hot tub, on what turned out to be a completely clear night. Even well after the sun went down, we could still see Mt. Taranaki through the darkness:
With zero light pollution, the sky was packed with millions of stars, and we had tremendous views of Orion and the Southern Cross and saw loads of shooting stars. What a way to spend Christmas. By midnight, I was totally exhausted, and headed for bed, but Merv took Matt out with the spotlight and a .22 to see if they could bag some rabbits or possum. They are major pests to farmers here, and possums in particular are incredibly destructive to New Zealand's environment. Have no fear, though- Matt did his part to aid conservation efforts in New Zealand by shooting his first possum.
Coffee and possum, anyone?
I know it might seem a little out-of-place to have these photos along with our Christmas celebration here, but every farmer in New Zealand shoots possums on a regular basis, and it's pretty much a part of daily life. We think it's pretty awesome that Merv & Michele made every attempt to give us the ultimate Kiwi experience, and this is definitely part of it!
This morning we all went out into the pasture to shift the cows onto some new grass (which is growing wonderfully now that we've had so much rain) and I took a few pictures of the stock and the gorgeous green country.
Look closely and you can see Matt on the left, rolling up the electric fence.
The beautiful valley below the farm.
We came back to the Wavehaven early this afternoon, and I've been resting and writing while Matt is down surfing. An epic swell came in this morning, and when we went down to Ahu Ahu a few hours ago, there were about 30 surfers out in the various lineups, and load of cars and families having their Boxing Day picnic at the beach. I'm still pretty tired and am enjoying the quiet here, and the awesome memories from our Kiwi Christmas! Also, incidentally, this was the first Christmas that Matt and I have spent together. It was definitely a good one. Today it's Christmas back in the U.S., and here's hoping you all have a wonderful day and enjoy yourselves as thoroughly as we did!