The night before

The suitcases are packed, filled for six weeks of travel in the northern hemisphere. We are forgoing a chunk of our southern hemisphere summer to journey north for a festive winter and time will be spent with family and friends. It’s the first time our three daughters will have experienced Christmas in England, like the ones their parents knew. They will miss seeing the Pohutukawa trees bloom their bright red blossom around the coast of Wellington and the long, light days of playing out in the garden and at the beach. There will be no shrimp on the BBQ or strawberries in the bubbles (no hay fever troubles for our oldest or mosquito bites to bother us either!). It will be a time spent with family, of twinkling lights and cosy nights in pubs, warmed by the fire. The Christmas music pumping throughout December, in shops and pubs will make sense for the first time in our children’s lives – for the weather will be cold, the nights long and dark, the fairy lights twinkling throughout the day and night.

The past few days have been all about preparing for our trip. We’ve been busy saying goodbye to friends and neighbours, meeting with friends who will be taking care of our pets and home, making the most of the long, light days and beginnings of summer (though tonight, as I type, the night before we leave, the rain is pelting down and a strong northerly is blowing through our bay – making our leaving a little easier!). We’ve enjoyed Christmas festivities in the streets of Wellington and a carol service at our eldest daughter’s school.

Alice enjoying a Very Welly Christmas!

We’ve been paddle boarding in the bay and swimming in the sea. Our dog has been to the groomers, the guinea pigs and rabbit have clean homes and the house plants have been watered. The house is clean, the bins are emptied, the food hiding in the back of the refrigerator going well past its best before date has been evicted. We are just about ready to head off on this trip!

But, however much a holiday is looked forward to, its arrival is still met with a certain trepidation, especially for our children; when the thought of leaving beloved pets is thrown into the mix, as well as leaving behind summer and a home we love to live in. It’s the first year our children won’t be putting up Christmas decorations and counting down to the festivities in their home, but they will be looking forward to seeing cousins they’ve not seen in four years and spending Christmas with their grandparents – although that comes with a touch of sadness as my dear Mum has Alzheimer’s disease and my father-in-law has Dementia. Christmas will be a real family affair, spanning generations and bringing us all together. The celebrations of the season will be touched with some sadness but also laughter and happiness – such is life in its full circle.

So tomorrow, after a morning spent at drama class for our two home-ed daughters and a farewell morning tea, we will do a final once over of our home and pets before heading to the airport late afternoon for a flight from Wellington to Auckland, and then onto Vancouver, Canada. We have just under two weeks in British Columbia, skiing at Sun Peaks and Whistler, before arriving in London, England on the 18th December. After a couple of weeks in England with family we will start our journey back to New Zealand, spending a week and a half in Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s going to be an amazing trip for our three daughters.

Tonight we are struggling to sleep, as we are all filled with anticipation. Tomorrow, we will be flying overnight to Canada. Here’s to making memories and new adventures!

Lyall Bay