In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

Christmas is coming, isn't it Dad ?

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From:       Kirstie, Stuart, Matthew and Cameron
Subject:   Christmas is coming, isn't it Dad
  Date:         16 December 2004
     Omarama, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand


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 shadow.

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.



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