Christmas Past and Present (a Sacred Time of Year)

a kiwi christmas scene
a kiwi christmas tree

As a child my Christmases were sun filled. Yuletide cards might have boasted snow and icicles but this wasn’t a reality for me. My reality involved holidays, beaches, bbq’s and mucking about in boats.

Hot long summers produced magnificent Pohutukawa flowers. To New Zealanders everywhere and through time these trees represent not just Christmas but lovely long lazy days. Ahhhhh bliss.

Then I moved to London and everything changed. I struggled to produce meaningful work after 3.30pm so dark and nightime-ish was it outside. The icicles and snow became a reality. As did the rain, never depicted on cards I can recall.

christmas a la Oxford Street (mrscarmichael)
christmas a la Oxford Street (mrscarmichael)

But there was something magical about a ‘real’ Christmas and I have embraced that magic ever since. More or less.

Carnaby Street decals (mrscarmichael)
Carnaby Street decals, 2013 (mrscarmichael)

In the West End on a solo shopping expedition recently I hunted among Soho’s little side streets for a café to reenergise without breaking the Liberty diminished bank balance.

Eschewing the Starbucks, Prêts and Costas I found a welcoming coffee house, Sacred that boasted a corner table with my name on it (well, you know what I mean).

Ever conscious of my increased proclivity for talking to strangers I said nothing on realising it was a fellow countrywoman who took my tuna melt and Americano order. Feeling proud of my restraint I sat, checked my cell, reread my shopping list and waited for my food.

This was my order number.

only the best ice cream on a stick in the whole wide world (mrscarmichael)
only the best ice cream on a stick in the whole wide world (mrscarmichael)

“Tuna melt and long black?” another young thing asked me.

Had I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole? No one says ‘long black’ is this here neck of the woods. She too had a Kiwi accent.

I looked around carefully seeing for the first time Kiwiana everywhere. Maps, tikis, NZ flags, and this framed bus route from Wellington, my home town. It even includes the hood of my youth.

nostalgia central plus a paua shell (mrscarmichael)
nostalgia central plus a paua shell (mrscarmichael)

The long black was off the highest New Zealand barista standard, the vittles yummy and I plan a return visit to try the brie and cranberry panini which is, I am informed, festively topical and to die for.

As pleased as I bet Mary was to find that manger I am delighted to have fallen upon this café, a Kiwi oasis 12,000 miles from home.

Mere Kirihimete y’all.



35 thoughts on “Christmas Past and Present (a Sacred Time of Year)

  1. Isn’t it wonderful to find a little bit of home in a land far from home? It was all meant to be, it seems, to bring a bit of nostalgia and fond memories to your Yuletide season. Happy holidays! 🙂

  2. Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me TeTau Hou to you Mrs Carmichael. Am looking forward to more humour and Carmichael adventures in 2014.

      1. Thanks; if the Big T gets the fishing kayak in time (and the weather co-operates) it could be a day on the water with some snapper for the barbie.

      2. Absolutely; the more the merrier! Actually, I’m envious of anyone who’s going to have a European Christmas. It always feels much more real in the middle of winter, and this year especially I’d like to be in England to enjoy my brother’s first christmas as a father. Oh well, next year maybe. In the meantime I’ll put another bottle of savvy in the fridge.

  3. One of those surreal situations where one is soaking up their surroundings leading to one observation…another… what?! Funny how life offers surprises at every turn. Have a lovely Xmas!

  4. Beautiful Mrs C! I love stories of synchronicity and serendipity. And thank you for your description and pics of Christmassy London – made me quite nostalgic having lived there for 2 years. Happy Christmas to you and yours!

  5. Serendipity Mrs C – or Karma. I love a long black and tuna melt too, wish I could have joined you there to have a chin-wag over north vs south Christmases. How restrained of you not to engage in conversation with the young ones – I’m afraid whenever I hear a Seth Efriken accent I have to enquire “where from”? My OH quivers in embarrassment. Although saying that when I first arrived back on these not so sunny shores many people thought I was a Kiwi! Not now though 😦

      1. I do everything I can to steer clear of shopping malls as a general rule. I go in and out of them like a commando; if I could rappel off the walls to leave them I would.

  6. Oh how lovely! What a great coincidence to find a little slice of home in cold old Britain. And I love the pictures of the Christmas decorations. December is usually a dreary month here, dank, dark, uninviting, and then the past few years it’s been freezing cold too. How anyone from the Southern hemisphere survives it, I’ll never know. You need a medal for sticking it out!

    Oh, btw, how about a trip to the William Morris Gallery for you and your friend? It’s free: My son of COURSE forgot to bring back his Secret London book, but I shall try to come up with ideas nevertheless!

      1. Oooh I hope it turns out to be good if you go – you must let me know! And you’re welcome. I’ll keep thinking of other possible places.

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