My first orphans’ Christmas

I don’t think I’ve been proper homesick until Christmas Eve.

It’s not that I don’t miss home, I do, it’s just I haven’t experienced this full-blown smack you in the face homesickness that people describe.

Then Christmas Eve rolled round and opposed to catching up with all my friends at a bar in Nelson and going carol-singing with the family on the church steps, I found myself pouring pints and using every part of my will to not burst into tears – especially after I learnt we were staying open later than anticipated, meaning I missed my Skype date for my nephew’s first Christmas.

Instead at the pre-arranged Skype time I found myself polishing glasses opposite a very drunk patron saying on repeat – ‘I know you don’t like me. You don’t like me do you? It’s ok that you don’t like me. Why don’t you like me?’ all because I refused to serve him – not because I didn’t like him but because he was shit-faced.

So by the time I managed to get home it was already Christmas and in a desperate attempt to cheer myself up I decided to play dress-ups with the cats.

But putting that little Santa hat on their heads was a bit like animal cruelty – especially watching their tiny paws frantically clawing at their throats in an attempt to pry the elastic band off, so much so I didn’t have the heart to try again to get the perfect Seasons Greetings from ‘Bus Face’ (my affectionate nickname for Leila) and ‘Ellie-cat’ photo.

I then comaed only to be woken a few hours later, not by snow as I had hoped, but by thunder and lightning and sideways rain which made it difficult to get motivation to walk to my orphans’ Christmas brunch at the pub.

I’m glad I made the effort though, there were eggs and bacon and crumpets and Vogels, a kiwi pumping out Flat Whites on the coffee machine – and a real Christmas tree.

Post-brunch I excused myself for my obligatory Christmas nap but it turned into a four hour one, to the point I actually had to be woken for Secret Santa.
And, I was still half asleep when I made the mortifying discovery that the present I had brought, which was a joke present (a giant Hello Kitty head filled with bubble-bath) and a cool present (a selection of awesome candies like Pez, Push Pops and Haribo) wrapped separately but tied together with string had come apart, meaning they got mistaken for two individual presents.

By the time I realised it was too late and Coconut next to me (his nickname because he’s from Samoa) and the only one who knew my predicament made me feel worse whisper-teasing ‘you ruined Christmas’ at every opportunity, before that somewhat awkward moment at the end when everyone couldn’t work out why there was one present left under the tree.

Afterwards I felt so bad for the poor sod who got the Hello Kitty head I fessed up and gave him the spare present too.

As for Christmas dinner, the concept of a full-blown roast really suits Christmas when it’s cold and generally miserable outside.



It makes less sense in a South Pacific Christmas, though we try anyway – then again my Aunty’s festive summer raw cauliflower and crushed gingernut salad doesn’t make much sense either.

I ended up piking from the pub at midnight, while the revellers stayed on until it was light outside and spent the next two days on the couch with an pre-migraine-ish headache watching the Kardashians, leaving only to fetch more Whittakers’ chocolate and RJ’s licorice sent over from my big sister.

Thinking about it, I’m sure there must have been an ulterior motive for her sending it to me, given I get to see her for the first time in a year in little under a month and when the roles were reversed and she came back from her year abroad I once joked – ‘you were so fat you worked up a sweat walking around the house.’

But now here I am about to go home a good 10kgs heavier than her – and she just had a baby.

To add insult to injury, she wore my what I would deem my ‘skinny Rachael’ clothes as maternity clothes.

And, I would truly like to do something about the shape of my arse but I live off pub food because it’s free and last time I attempted running in London I face-planted and spent the next three weeks plying gravel out of my hands and elbows.

Karma I tell you, karma.

As a endnote… a big thank you to Ernesto and Emma for letting me use their Christmas Day photos because I was too slack to take my own!


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