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had a lovely Christmas
SSar's Beast


On Christmas Eve, I went to work. We had been up late the previous night - Miriam had had to call a cab to our place, because the last bus had gone - and in their late-night schemings, Joel and Stephanie had decided that they would have banana daiquiris at 9:30am on Thursday morning, Christmas Eve. This they did - well, with a margin of error of fifteen minutes or so. (Banana daiquiris were, later, also the answer to "Why is all the rum gone?" No rum left for me!) Work finished surprisingly early, and Joel, Stephanie and I met in town to present Nik with her gifts. She decided to come over to our place in the evening, being otherwise home alone. This was agreed.

Joel and I took a long walk home through Aro Valley, and I started cooking for Christmas Eve dinner. Pip was coming. I didn't know if she was arriving at my house that evening, or just in Wellington, nor entirely how long she was staying. And I didn't have her cellphone number.

Stephanie came home, and Nik, and I made beef roast and many other dishes, and mulled wine. Pip appeared after several advent texts. She was to stay with me the whole weekend, through Sunday even. Huzzah! We ate and talked and Stephanie issued an open invitation to everyone to join her on her radio show, at, which was an orphans'-Christmas show special. That was also to be the last Thursday 11pm-1am time slot, though this was not known at the time. Everyone took her up on the offer except me, because I was sneezy like a sneezy thing, and didn't want to leave my safe haven of infinite tissues and cups of water. So at 10:30pm on 24th December, the house was empty except for me, and I put on Meredith's mix CD of Christmas carols, a compilation effort which I had especially requested, and started doing dishes.

Steph and James's studio was crammed with people - Steph, James, Miriam, Nik, Cordelia, Rueben, Joel, and Pip - and they had even more fun than was broadcast, telling me that dances and piggybacks went on in the courtyard when music played. I claim that I was their One Guaranteed Audience Member, a privileged position (surely?) By the time they returned, at 1:30am on Christmas true, I had nearly stopped sneezing. Nearly.


We woke up slowly, by around nine thirty. There were four of us in the house - Joel and me, Stephanie, and our guest Pip. Pip had mysterious bottling chores to complete (pear liqueur for various relatives) before her parents picked her up, but we also opened gifts. I had got Joel three games, and a handkerchief with an embroidered Oscar Wilde quote. He had got me much more awesome things, including a watch and salt-and-paper grinders shaped like rabbits. This is because I have always claimed I am easy to buy presents for, and because Joel is a highly thoughtful person. Other people got nice things too! I still haven't figured out if Meredith's gift of a Fancy Kitchen Device is actually a lemon zester or a garlic presser. It looks like one thing but its label claims the other.

Stephanie went to Erin's for lunch, and Pip went off with family. I had literally no idea what to do with myself on this totally free day. After drinking - that is, attempting to make my own version of a banana daiquiri with no rum, no lime juice, and no lemons - and playing computer games, I hit upon crafts. It was a great relief.

Pip and Steph returned, and it was determined that we should conclude the evening by playing drunken Monopoly. Steph invited another friend around who I vaguely knew. He got belligerently excited about learning to play set - "SET! Set! Can I say set now?" and tried unsuccessfully to play everyone off against each other in Monopoly. Eventually, we decided that Pip won. She was the Dog. (I was the Shoe.)


After a series of vague false starts to the day, we watched the Dr Who Christmas special. This was punctuated with many snarls of rage and bursts of mocking laughter from yours truly. I disliked it immensely. You may not share my opinion. Anyway, I take fiction very personally.

Pip and I headed off to the pools, and Joel ripped a DVD I had borrowed for the express purchase of watching it with Pip: Seraphine. (This was just so we could watch it once without returning it late. Reasonably fair use, I feel.) Pip and I went for a swim. The pool attendant was very nice to us - we wanted to go to the spa, and he told us just to pay as we were leaving. Then, when we were leaving, he had closed the cash register, so he told us to pay the next time we were there. Which, we assured him, would be the next day.

Pip had Thai food with her aunt and I had nice leftovers at home with Joel, and when everyone was back home, we watched Seraphine. Except it was very late by then, and late nights after swimming are not a good time to watch beautiful, slow-paced French films. At midnight, when the film ostensibly moved into Part 2, and I checked the run time to discover that there was still an hour to go, we gave it up as a jolly good effort.


Pip and I had decided we would go swimming early in the morning. 'Early' started off at 8am and meandered through 11am. In the rather cold rain, Pip and Steph and I eventually ventured forth, Stephanie more directly to the markets. So again Pip and I went swimming, paying for all our spa trips, and got out late... The markets were at their dregs when we emerged, but I still swooped on many good things, such as a large bag of plums. It felt strange to go to the markets so late in the day. Almost like handing an essay in late. The world didn't end, whatever regrets might linger.

Pip wanted to have a post-swimming lunch, so I agreed to have one with her, and we sat in Olive Cafe and talked. Finally she went off to second-hand book shops and I went home, to complete the craft project I'd been working on for the last few days.

Joel had determined to take us out to dinner, and after wandering dissolutely through town, where everything was either closed or packed, we ended up at One Red Dog. The food was amazingly good. After ten minutes of eating, Pip said, "I love how we're not even trying to make conversation." The food was precisely that good. (Joel and I only had one meal on the following day - the Red Dog meal sufficed for a day and a half.) We staggered home, and I tuned in to Stephanie's radio show again - "Holding Out for the Unicorn" had switched back from its Thursday timeslot to its old Sunday timeslot of 9pm-11pm. (And you should listen! streaming.)

In the morning, at 8:30am, Pip's parents picked her up for the long drive back to Auckland.

Such a wonderful Christmas.


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