I am busy buying presents, wrapping presents and spending a fortune sending them overseas before the cut off day. I am, as some of you may already know, a big fan of the postal service which each week delivers a letter to one of my grand-daughters – or in the case of the young ones in Thailand, both at the same time. It comes from having grown up in the countryside where the most exciting thing that happened each day was the delivery of the newspaper, accompanying bills and very occasionally, a letter. It was ‘somewhere else’ delivered to your sofa or your bed or wherever you read the words that someone had taken time to write to you. Now technology has hauled us into this magical time and these less immediate things are disappearing. I’m of the belief that all that’s propping up the postal service in New Zealand is courier post and truckloads of Christmas parcels. This morning when I went into my local Post Office there was a queue. That set everyone on edge. What was happening? Why were these strangers in here posting parcels? And the strangers were just as annoyed because any other time they’d walked past and looked in, the place had been empty. Being an old hand, I bought two enormous plastic post bags. Not because I need them now but because I know they won’t be there next week when I go looking. Scarcity is one of the things I had to get used to when we came home from the UK. Here it’s assumed the supermarket will run out of it’s giveaways before the promotion is over and I firmly suspect it’s excatly the same for post bags. Today I was only posting birthday gifts but I do have the Christmas gifts laid out across the spare bed. I have the Thai pile that have to be in the post by the 27th; and two piles for Aussie which gives me until the 30th. When I got home with the bags I looked at the piles and realize I’d over-estimated the size I required so now I’m wondering how much extra it will cost to stuff them full of newspaper.
At Raewards I was talking (as you do), with a woman as we counted mandarines into our bags. She’d been impressed that I’d bought an orange for my Christmas cake. ‘I don’t make those anymore,’ she said as though it was a good thing. I should’ve agreed. The one I made last week was a complete disaster – and not the sort that could be brought back to life with a good soaking of brandy, but I’m willing to give it another shot. Neither of us was looking forward to the tree saga. What’s the point when there’ll be nothing much to go under it and no little girl to keep away from the tantilising low level decorations? I’m not exactly cancelling Christmas but there is hardly anything to look forward to with no 1am airport pickups and no 4 year old hurtling towards me as though she’s spent forever waiting to arrive. Having my mother at my table and seeing everyone via face time might pull it back from the brink, but it’s still not a proper one. I will have to remember how much fun it was that time we drove around an empty downtown London with gobs full of Minties and snow falling around us. That was a 2 person Christmas and it turned out ok. This year I know there is a good reason to be apart. Next year, if Covid gives us a break, I promise I’ll get out the tree. I suspect that poking all those branches back in and finding where the lights join up won’t be nearly as difficult as it used to be. Aroha.