Christmas, eh? I guess like most people who grow up with Christmas as a cultural marker I’ve had a fluctuating relationship with it. I have loved it (waterfights with cousins, yay!), I have scorned it with the scorn of a world-weary, uber-cynic who is only there because her parents made her, I have dreaded its emotional pressures, and I have been entirely ambivalent. (I am only talking here about the cultural aspects of it, not the religious aspects, though I think it’s fair to say this has changed for me over the years as well.)
This year it transpired that on Christmas Day we were in New Zealand, our first full day in the campervan. When we set out from Christchurch it was fine and sunny, and by the time we got to Aoraki / Mt Cook it was raining. The road was extremely busy with campervans. I guess everyone was from France or China or Germany or Japan and may as well be driving. We played my ultra-excellent Christmas playlist as we drove although it’s impossible to hear anything when you’re in a campervan. My goodness, they are rattly and bangy–I had bought a packet of blu-tac the day before and by the time I’d tacd down all the things that were rattling there was only the smallest blob of it left.
We went to a Department of Conservation campground which had a few other campervans and many, many tents. The mister and I have spent our fair share of rainy New Zealand nights in a tent and we were deeply appreciative of our dry space with its working stove and our dry sheets. What’s a bit of squoosh when you’re dry? We bored our children by retelling the stories of our youth. Like that first time we went camping in New Zealand. In our excitement at finding a car we could afford we didn’t check our eleventh-hand Honda Accord all that closely and it wasn’t until we were huddled in it for warmth one stormy night by Lake Waikaremoana that the silicone seal which had been used to hold the hatch together fell completely away and a sheet of water just poured in through the back. The LOLz, eh mister?
Other times when we’ve been away for Christmas there has been at least some time during the day when I’ve felt the absence from family. There’s a different quality to the homesickness at those times. But towards the end of the day this year I realised I hadn’t felt that at all this day. Perhaps because everyone was camping and so we didn’t get any glimpses into other people’s Christmas Days.
For their Christmas lunches the lads had chosen mac and cheese and spaghetti bolognese. I put together these Campervan Trifles which are strawberries, yoghurt, and iced animals. Iced animals are a strangely delicious biscuit although as I said on instagram they do look like they’ve been slapped together by someone whose kid waiting until 8pm Sunday night to mention Monday morning’s bake sale.
For our evening’s entertainment, we transformed the table into the bottom bunk and each of us found a space to sit or lie to watch Die Hard played on my ipad with the sound streamed through the mister’s wireless speaker. I think Die Hard is far more Christmassy than I remember it being when we watched it last year. After that we had The Nightmare Before Christmas. I loved it. I did fall asleep part way through, but I still know I loved it because I’ve seen it before and my sleepiness was to do with being sleepy and not to do with the quality of the film. The floppy adolescent also loved it. The other half of the family will never watch it again.
And that was Christmas in our campervan.