Christmas Love – From Me to You!

With just a few  hours until the magic of Christmas Eve arrives here in New Zealand, I am taking a moment to thank you all for supporting my writing and me this year.

The Mandy Diaries began as a therapeutic way of connection for me. It was a way of sharing and processing my thoughts and feelings; a way to look for and concentrate on the joy in my life. The Mandy Diaries, however, has become a healing passion for me. It is a place to tell my stories – as they are or were. To break down some of the stigma and myths associated with mental health issues. And to share my thoughts on current world events. I hope that you will continue to read, think, laugh, cry, grow and maybe even heal a little with me in 2016.

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The beautiful Pohutukawa tree known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

As I will be spending the next few days at my Mum’s place and will not have internet – my prayer for each of you – my family, my old friends and my new online friends and readers, is that you would

  • Share a blessed and peaceful Christmas celebration with those you feel closest to
  • That you would hug those around you … not forgetting yourself because you deserve it
  • That you would give all you can to those less fortunate than yourself … be it by way of thoughts, words, prayers, or the giving of service or money

For those of us that cannot be with some of our loved ones because of distance, financial constraints, brokenness or death – I ask for a peaceful heart and sensitive, caring people around us, to understand those moments where we become lost in the crowd and choose silence or to shed a tear.  

So … remembering that Babe in the manger long ago, whose birth we celebrate.

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A very happy Christmas to you all!

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Advent in New Zealand!

The time leading into Christmas is usually a time of anticipation but always coloured with sadness for me.  Another wedding anniversary is remembered – alone.  The shopping, wrapping and giving of gifts is done – alone.  Flowers are laid on a grave – alone.  Decorations are pulled out and arranged – alone.  Church is attended – alone.  This has been the norm for me for the last 6 Christmas celebrations.

This year, with the encouragement of my Boys, I decided to do something different …. so I have traveled to my childhood home, New Zealand, to spend Christmas with my extended family.

I have, so enjoyed the special Christmas touches in the homes I have been lucky enough to be staying in.  Some old and memory inducing, many handcrafted and made with love, all adding to the festive times being celebrated.

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The Christmas trees have been beautifully decorated, just waiting for the parcels to be added beneath their splendour.

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I have been blessed to be able to visit with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends from University days.  Some I have not seen for 30+ years!   How easily relationships return and feel natural!  Age has given us perspective and wisdom but has not lessened the memories or ability to laugh and love.

So as I prepare for a big family celebration this Christmas – I am truly blessed to not be alone!

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Come Lord Jesus Come!

 

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I am going home for Christmas.  Home to New Zealand, to join with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families and grandchildren and in-laws.  I am excited to be flying off in 3 days.  I haven’t had many extended family Christmases over the years.  When married to a Pastor, that was our busy time and after those years, it was the most expensive time to travel – so it just didn’t happen.  In the 35 years I’ve lived in Australia, this will be only my third Christmas home.  So I am excited.

Kiwi Christmas

I have always referred to New Zealand as my home because that is my birth place but having lived in Australia significantly longer than I did in NZ, I know that Australia is my real home now.  My Boys are Australian and I always find that as much as I love to visit my beautiful country of birth, by the end of my trip I am ready to go Home!

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*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries.

So I am excited for my visit but I can also feel the sadness creeping up on me, as leaving day approaches.  This will be the first Christmas since we became a family, that I won’t be with any of my Boys on Christmas Day.  Some of us have been apart previously, but I have always had at least one of my Boys with me.  This year I could have had all 3 of them with me but circumstances prevailed.  (Story for another post!)   So my Boys will Christmas together and I will Christmas in NZ!

Not that I have missed out.  We have already shared Christmas celebrations with 2 of my Australian families and their kids.

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Typical Aussie Christmas Day lunch.

And I hope to share some Christmas cheer with my BFF  before we go to spend  An Evening with Oprah tomorrow night.  Did I even tell you that? ….. Oprah and Me!!!!!!  Bucket list ticking off happening right there!

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But I digress … It was so great to see my Boys in the pool with our friends kidlets or twirling them around and around or just generally having fun. Backyard cricket was the game of their day – pool cricket was what they were taught by the 3 & 6 year olds last night!!  Surely, it seems only yesterday that they were the ones being tossed in the pool or enjoying their presents.

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So, I prepare for my journey home with joy and anticipation.  Looking forward to making memories and filling my heart with love and blessings.  But each day, I may just be caught in thought of what those gorgeous Men that Adrian and I made together, might be doing at Home?  Knowing they are there for each other and totally enjoying their special Christmas together.

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Illustration by Julie Vivas from the book The Nativity.

*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries recipe here.

Sheep Stations – The Final!

The day that we all hoped for has arrived.  Australia (Aussie) plays New Zealand (the Black Caps) in the World Cup of Cricket, in the final!  It’s the match that all the Aussies have been waiting for since that fateful day earlier in the tournament at Eden Park.  Because this time the match will be played at that Australian cauldron – the mighty MCG!

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new-zealand_650_012115100700 Now there are all sorts of reasons that each country thinks that their team will win – the Black Caps are unbeaten in the tournament but this will be the first game played outside their home country; the size of the ground should be on the Aussie side because the Black Caps haven’t played on the MCG for 6 years; the Aussies have got Davey Warner but the Black Caps have got  Martin Guptill; the Black Caps have got in form bowlers Boult & Southee but Aussie has got the vicious Mitch’s – Starc & Johnson; the Black Caps have got the extraordinary Baz McCullum as their captain and the Aussie’s have the amazing Captain, Pup Clarke, who has announced that this will be his last game in this format!

And then there is the X Factor in each team.  The non – playing 12th men for each team.

For the Aussies, the memory of a long hard season that began with the tragic death, on the cricket field, of their much-loved mate Phillip Hughes.  They will want to complete this season with a win for their country, themselves and their little mate.

For the Black Caps, the very public battle of the former New Zealand captain, Martin Crowe, who has been mentor to so many of the batsmen in the team. His column written for espncricinfo was nothing short of gut wrenchingly beautiful.  They will want to win for their country, themselves and their great mentor.

So, I have to make a decision on which side of the family fence I will settle on!  That is a very complicated thing to do for the following reasons.

  1. My mother was born in Australia but my father was born in New Zealand.
  2. My mother has lived in NZ for three times  as long as she lived in Australia and is a one-eyed Black Cap supporter.
  3. I was born in NZ but I married an Australian and have lived in Australia ten years longer than I lived in NZ.
  4. I have three Australian sons that support the NZ rugby team – as do I.
  5. My sister & her hubby lived in Australia for around five or so years, during which time they produced a son that was born in Australia but has a Silver Fern tattooed on his shoulder.
  6. I know this means the world to my homeland of NZ, having never even made the final before.  With special mention to my nephew and his mates, known as The Troopers, who attended every Black Cap game in the competition but could not make it to Melbourne for the final.

The Troopers

I could go on and on forever but I have decided to go for my home for 30+ years and support Australia!

I will not be sad if the Black Caps win.  The two best sides are playing attacking, aggressive cricket which is a delight to watch.  It will hopefully be competitive right down to the last over.  I hope it is so close that my mother, brother-in-law & brother all need to walk away from their TV’s at some point because they can’t bear to watch.

There is only one thing that could destroy it for me and that is Shane Warne’s commentary.  Let it go, Warnie!  Let it go!

Sheep Stations – a Follow Up!

Well, the game was played and won by the Kiwi’s …… just!

The cousins are still talking to each other ……. just!  Gracious winning, it seems, just doesn’t run in some parts of the family – no matter which side of the ditch you live on!  Rightly so I say!!

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The enjoyment felt by the New Zealanders watching the Australian batsmen marching back to the pavilion with little or no runs, was only matched by the enjoyment felt by the Australians watching the New Zealand batsmen doing the same!

It was close – really close! And it will all happen again at some time in the semi finals or maybe even the final!  It will most likely be played in Australia for the next meeting, where 90,000 screaming supporters will well and truly match the 40,000 that showed up in New Zealand for the last match!  Then we will really know who the best is!

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Then there is the Kiwi / Indian brother from another mother, who is hoping for something quite different.

p.s. Sorry for the late follow up report but I have found writing more difficult when not in my own, quiet space.  Back home now, so be prepared for more regular Mandy Diaries!

Playing For Sheep Stations ….

I’ve been on holiday in New Zealand for just over a week now.  BossBoy & BabyBoy came with me and we attended a lovely family wedding which was so full of fun and happiness, that it deserves its own blog later. The weather has been sensational and we have mixed and mingled with our New Zealand family or whānau, in all sorts of happy gatherings.  We missed BerlinBoy and BabyBoy flew home last night – leaving BossBoy & myself to fly the Australian flag for the most important cricket match for a long, long time!

We love cricket in our family!  It doesn’t matter what side of the ditch we live on, we love  it!  We don’t always love the way the others love it but what is life without a bit of competition?

So the Kiwi cousins and the Indian/Kiwi brother from another mother – have taken the Aussie cousin to Eden Park, to cheer on their respective teams live!  While the older generation has been split up for their own relationships safety, to watch at different homes, on TV.

Some of the New Zealand cousins and their friends, caught on TV, supporting their beloved Black Caps!
Some of the New Zealand cousins and their friends, caught on TV, supporting their beloved Black Caps during a previous match!

You see, although some supporters of each country were born in or have lived in the opposite country – there is a fierce rivalry and eyes become one eyed and feelings are high!

Australian & New Zealand cousins before the match, at the wedding!!
Australian & New Zealand cousins getting on well at the wedding a week ago!

So the proclaimation being heard around the homes & at the pub & at the ground, the hour before the game has started, is “I don’t mind who wins, as long as it’s a good game!” and “I just want us to be competitive” and “I don’t expect us to win but …” and “Your team must be the favourite!”

Each is secretly hoping that their team will win and win well!   And each Mother is hoping that their child is a gracious winner/loser …… and then there is the Aussies!!!!!

See you after the game for a follow up.

p.s. Sheep Stations for those that haven’t heard it before –The phrase ‘playing for sheep stations’ has both a literal and ironic usage. Literally, it is used to encourage participants to play in a friendly and not too competitive manner. Playing sport or cards or a game of some sort, but not for prizes, one might say ‘take it easy, we’re not playing for sheep stations’. It could be used starting a game of cards or pool for example, to check whether the game would be played for money, beer, or just pride, asking ‘so, are we playing for sheep stations or what?’

Thanks Wikipedia!