Dot writes: here are some things that are not typically part of an Irish Christmas: getting sunburnt on Christmas Day (and I was wearing suncream; it’s just there’s a bit in the middle of my upper back I seem to have missed); eating the roast dinner outside on the deck; Hugh playing on the slip’n’slide, with Uncle Mat demonstrating the correct technique for sliding along on one’s belly; walking along the pavement a few days later and seeing all the cracks highlighted with a deposit of fine red strands from the disintegrating pohutakawa flowers.

We’ve adequately trashed Ken’s brother’s house and have temporarily moved on to Ken’s Dad’s house in Raglan, before moving the demolition team to Wanganui for New Year. I walked down to the shops to buy nappies this morning and thought the day quite cool – I was comfortable in a t-shirt but feeling the breeze on my arms. Ken says that he thinks a proper frosty northern Christmas is best really, and he has a point: the lights and the hot rich food are more satisfying in the dark and cold. But I am quite happy to trade a bit of Christmas sparkle for sunshine and warm, at least once in a while.

I went to church on Christmas Day and found that, in a congregation of maybe forty (it was a little tin-shack church on a wooded road in Titirangi), the woman next to me and the woman in front of me were both immigrants from Ireland.


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