I read in the news the other day that this person called Halsey is being heralded as the voice of a generation. This was rather a revelation and it made me chuckle as I have no idea who they are. Gareth didn't have the foggiest either, but then we have no idea of a lot of things any more. We haven't heard a single song in the Top 40 since we left the house and we have no idea what's on everyday TV or who is famous any more. I didn't realise just how far removed from everything we actually were until a couple of weeks ago, when I was sitting in the waiting room of the local medical centre and a large television screen loomed above, playing daytime shows. 'Ooh, that was exciting last night, wasn't it?' a woman sitting opposite me smiled. 'I'm glad that couple from Wanaka won!' 'Oh, that's good!' I smiled back. I figured she must have been talking about Masterchef or some similar show, which she was, and I thought I had got away with it until she kept on talking about not only that, but a heap of other shows on TV which were also apparently very exciting. In the end, I had no choice but to admit that I hadn't watched television since 2016. She stared at me quite literally open-mouthed and neither of us knew what to say next. Mercifully I was called in to my appointment at that moment and I didn't have to explain! Whilst it was a rather awkward situation, it made me incredibly glad that I had been out living my life for the past year and doing real stuff, instead of sitting in front of the gogglebox. Ignorance really is bliss, as they say.
Even so, unless you live on a desert island, there are still some things you can't escape or ignore, and Christmas is one of them. To be fair, it's only really made its presence felt the past week or so; in the supermarket, where the carols are blasting 24/7 and the Post Office, where the queues stretch for miles with everyone trying to meet the Christmas postage deadlines. For the most part, Gareth and I decided we would pretty much ignore Christmas this year. We were in the perfect spot to escape all the commercial hype and would spend the day exactly as we wanted, just the two of us. We got all our Christmas shopping done in one day and breathed a sigh of relief. Now that was done, we could just get on with work and all the other things we needed to be doing! But then things started to happen that made me change my mind...
The sun goes down on another peaceful day
You see, as I look out the window right now, I can see a little Christmas village happening. Our campground is surprisingly quiet at the moment and I think that's due to the fact that almost all the overseas travellers are working further up the country at the moment, picking fruit and doing other jobs to support themselves and fund their travels. The campers we have here right now are almost entirely Kiwis, looking for a quiet place to spend Christmas and New Year in their motor homes away from the crowds. There's Debra, who has been here on and off since May. Sandra and Valentine, the fishing mad young French couple we met a couple of months back, who come and go. There's Ron and his wife, our nearest neighbour, another lovely friendly couple in a bus with their enormous chocolate Labrador, Glenn in his caravan over the other side and the most delightful Maori chap with a white, fluffy wee dog who loves nothing more than a good yarn. We don't know all their names, despite talking at length on many occasions but they all seem to know ours!
I realised how much I enjoy seeing these people every day, how kind they are and how much they make me smile, and it made me so happy that they were all here for the festive season. But then it got even better. We began hearing from people we had met throughout the year, who had been to stay months before and were coming back for Christmas and New Year! 'We'll be here for Christmas, must catch up for a drink!' one message read. 'See you at New Year for a wine!' said another. It made me so excited that all these special, memorable people who had taken the time to get to know us previously were coming back again. To think we had originally thought our first camping Christmas might be lonely! That's the thing about this place though; it's a special and unique place people love to come back to.
We may not have much room for Xmas decorations - but we'll make room!
Before I knew it, I was downloading all my favourite corny Christmas albums on Spotify and sticking up our Christmas cards and decorations in the van. For the first time in 15 years I wrote Christmas cards and sent them. It was fun to do and made me feel good to let the special people in our lives know that we were thinking of them, but the best thing of all was the lovely messages we got in return from the recipients; a lot of them were so surprised and chuffed to receive a card from us. In a world full of technology and instant messaging, it's a rare thing these days, to receive hand written communication you can keep.
To top things off, I went to the Hospice shop yesterday to take back my wedding dress, along with some other bits and pieces. 'Your beautiful dress? Oh surely you'll want to keep that?' said the lady behind the counter, whose name was Wilma. 'I live in a van! I don't really have room to keep it!' I smiled. 'Besides, it's not like I'm going to wear a dress like this again, I thought if I brought it back, someone else could wear it too'. 'I'll take the rest', Wilma said, ferreting through the bag, 'But I'm not taking that dress! You hang on to it my dear, that's precious.' 'OK, well I was feeling a bit torn about it', I laughed. 'You win!' So I still have my dress - at least for now, and while I was there I picked up two Christmassy hats for us to wear around the campground! If you would like to read more about our special day, more details are in this month's Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine. Thank you to everyone for all your kind well wishes and lovely messages!
The $30 medieval wedding dress I wasn't allowed to part with!
This Christmas is going to be our first Christmas ever without our families. It's going to be hard and I know there will be a few pangs of sadness; but as long as they are happy, we are happy. We didn't make any plans to eat with anyone, as we didn't think anyone would want a couple of vegans around on a day when everyone traditionally stuffs themselves with turkey and ham! However, Bevin and Amy, lovely as they are accept us for all our weirdness and have invited us to a Christmas BBQ in the evening, with home made vegan burger patties! I have a feeling our first Christmas as nomads is going to be a very happy and special one after all!