Massively overdue posts… Written on Dec. 26, 2013
After-Christmas shopping in Whangarei: Harvey Norman’s, Farmers (pharmacy/Marshalls-type store except makeup is crazy expensive and nail polish costs $27), etc. Annie and I curled up on a sofa and read a book while the family shopped for electronics in the morning. We both hate shopping. Well, she likes it, but doesn’t like being stuck in the crowds. And from Disneyland experiences, I now despise crowds more than ever.
Keep in mind that “crowds” in New Zealand are less than what a “normal” shopping day would be like in Irvine Spectrum. Heck, I bet only 30 people tops were in the store, and Annie remarked, “This is really, really busy for Whangarei.” I giggled.
I also got a taste of town square shopping, which reminded me of Cuba St. in Wellington CBD. Annie also showed me the cutest shop ever: Typo (a smaller version of Urban Outfitters, but surprisingly more afforable).
The Edwards family also graciously took me to another Christmas lunch (their aunt and uncle’s house, the Foxes. Because of the last name, I saw a Christmas card addressed to them that read, “What does the FOX say?”). Their house was in Waipu, which overlooked the most beautiful forest and greenery… also, it helped that the family owns a nursery. I was speechless when I saw their yard (imagine stepping out of your living room and just seeing a huge, mountainous range of green trees).
Again, pictures do no justice here.
“You traveled quite far since the last time we saw each other!”*
— Annie’s aunt, who I had met with Annie & Rachel at a Kiwis in LA picnic in April 2013
*It was really neat to see her again. She’s a Kiwi but lives in Westwood; thanks to her dragging Annie and Rachel to that picnic, I was having Christmas dinner and spending a vacation with them. Love.
There ended up being 22 of us, including myself, that enjoyed a delicious lunch (never-ending amounts of food and desserts).
Everyone gathered in a large circle toward the end of the day to open their gifts from their grandparents (Annie’s mom’s parents). It amazed me by how thoughtful and un-materialistic the gifts were. Everyone received a handmade card from World Vision Smiles Programme NZ that indicated it was a donation of 2 goats, 2 chickens and training. To an underprivileged family somewhere in the world, this speaks volumes. [sidenote: Each gift cost $100 to donate 2 goats, 2 chickens & training. That’s such a generous gift on behalf of this whole extended family]
It was really neat to see how Kiwis truly give back and genuinely do not obsess over material items that many Americans do. In return, the Fox family gave each visiting family a beautiful jar filled with ingredients for M&M cookies (layered with sugar, oat grains, flour, M&Ms, marshmallows) and instructions tied around the jar opening. So clever and thoughtful, especially since everything was from the heart.
And despite how I’m not big on kids, the littlest one at the house seemed to find me and pull me into pushing her on the swing and talking to me. She was 7, an incredibly intelligent girl, with more strength than me (she yanked me off the chair when we tried to pull open a Christmas cracker together). Not sure if kids can sense that you’re not great around them, but for some reason, I’m a child magnet (and I’m too nice to ignore them or run away).
After these family gatherings, I felt so blessed to have spent time with such a loving, large family. Definitely allowed me to shed new perspective on typical American Christmases…