After five full weeks on the road,
we're finding it hard to remember which day it is, where
we were yesterday or which clothes are still clean enough
to be wearable, so trying to keep track of when and where
Christmas will be is proving a little difficult.
But we have some help from our travelling
companions who seem better able than us to keep track of
how many days to go, how many kilometres to Timaru (our
Christmas destination) and exactly what Father Christmas
needs to deliver.
So far we've escaped the advertising,
the parties and the hype. We've still managed a few pre-Christmas
hangovers though. One morning Stuart woke and declared a
headache. "It might be that beer last night," diagnosed
Dr Matthew, wise beyond his years.
But we're not devoid of Christmas
cheer. We've decorated the boys buggies with Christmas stickers
and are on the look out for some tinsel and fairy lights.
"Keep cycling Dad, we need
to get to Timaru for Christmas"
Santa managed to track us down while
passing through Arrowtown, a small settlement in Otago's
gold country. He was visiting a community Christmas party
and spotted the kids passing by in their buggies. "Ho, ho,
ho," he said stopping us in our tracks, reaching into his
bag for a little nugget, and pulling out just what every
boy wants; a farting balloon for Matthew and a pair of giant
ladies glasses for Cameron. Leaving the campsite the next
morning, a happy camper greeted Stuart with a friendly "Hello,
lovely day isn't it?" Before Stuart could answer, Matthew
made good use of his present, replying with a soggy wet
trump. Mortified, Stuart left the campsite with Kirstie
behind towing a middle aged lady wearing fierce blue eye
We looked Santa up
on a revenge mission the following day in Cromwell. The
local toy library had converted a classroom at the polytechnic
into a Christmas grotto. An elf greeted us at the blacked
out classroom door, brushed aside thick red velvet curtains
and took us into a Christmas wonderland. We stepped into
a Victorian home complete with a little girl's bedroom,
decorated fireplace, a candlelit Christmas dinner table
and avenue of real Christmas trees, decorated in white lights
and smelling of pine, leading to Santa's grotto. The kids
were terrified and the quietest they have been since we
left. The elf and fairy led them through, reading out the
Christmas cards, showing them the little girl asleep in
her bed, and pointing out the milk, cake and carrots left
out for Santa and the reindeer. Then they met the big man
himself, dressed in the usual garb, with a mischievous and
unrelenting glint in his eye. The boys were on the best
behaviour; this Santa wouldn't miss a thing since he did
not blink the whole time we were there. "Come in, don't
be frightened, tell me what you'd like me to bring you for
Christmas," he chuckled. Dead silence. Minutes passed. We
were delighted at the prospect of no Christmas shopping.
Then Santa foiled us again. "I think I know what you would
like, a nice big IBM Computer heh, and some DVD's ho ho."
Now, there's only two things Matthew tells us he misses
from home: his toy dolly(!) and his computer, and suddenly
his eyes lit up, and a big smile spread across his face
as he came to life and found his voice, "Santa, we're going
to be in Timaru for Christmas." After a quick photo, time
was up and we were all shuffled out with a souvenir balloon
and a chewy sweet, making space for the next little visitors
queuing outside. At the door, Cameron turned around and
ran back in to make a final check that the directions had
been understood. He stuck his head around the pine trees,
"See you after later OK Santa?"
The boys refused to sit with unblinking Santa without Mum
and Dad to hold their hands. Honest.
The biggest difference between Christmas
at home and on the road is that there is no fuss until we
stop. And that won't be until Christmas eve. Our advent
calendar is a daily countdown of days and kilometres to
go, with little pieces of chocolate to help us kill the
k's. The boys have made a list of little things they would
like that will fit in their buggies, written it on a postcard
and posted it. IBM computers are banned on the grounds of
size, weight and budget, like so many things on this trip.
Anyway, our festive simplicity seems to make the festival
more focused. We're looking forward to Christmas in Timaru
when the cycling will stop for a few days and the party
begins. We just hope Santa will find us.