It’s been a kiwi Christmastime. This November and December, we’ve traversed the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and I’ve been soaking up the spunk and joy in the little things, like this Christmas video from my favorite shop in Auckland.
Tonight, the spunk and joy is accompanied by a bit of melancholy and a large dose of gratefulness.
I’m so close to winging my way home.
It’s Christmas Eve: a few hours before midnight on the 24th of December (a day that sounded so, so far away when we first departed Portland on January 5th). We’re sitting in a hotel room just down the road from Auckland International Airport.
This morning we flew up early from Christchurch to squeeze in a few more coffees with dear friends. The summertime sun set a while ago, we’ve said our last “goodbyes for now,” and the only thing left on our Christmas list is a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s Christmas Day flights to Tokyo, Seattle, and Portland.
Pinch me. It’s real.
I’ve been mulling over stories and preparing to share posts from Asia and New Zealand (you’d laugh at the sheer number of adventures and photos still waiting to be illuminated in full RGB glory).
I do plan to fill this online space with more travel tales after we are back on Oregon soil, but I’ve also been mulling over the deeper themes of passing time and changing seasons.
Tonight, rather than sort the thoughts tumbling through my mind, I’ve decided to share a flashback from my old blog, when I first spent time living overseas and writing my way through the experience:
I’m not ready for farewells – 2 June 2004
The goodbyes have started…the academics are winding down…the realization in sinking in…the countdown continues.
Why can’t this door — this one that’s soon to be swinging shut behind me — be a revolving door instead? Can’t I just fly home, say hellos, eat some Tillamook Cheese, drink a real milkshake, give everyone a round of hugs and then catch the next flight back to New Zealand? Impractical, I know. But what am I going to do???
It is often said that life is in the little things. I think life is in the unique combinations, actually. Big and little things both. For every single moment, opportunity and circumstance are present in an unrepeatable blend, and the key is knowing when and how to seize those slivers of time and work diligently with the available conditions. I hope I’ve been faithful in wisely carrying that out!
I know that my experience here has been unique to this time and this place, and that the unrepeatable blend of people and events and weather and food and native plants and social dramas and strange accents and good music and (oops, sorry, getting a bit carried away) – anyway, the aforementioned unrepeatable blend assisted in generating my experience and, too, guarantees that it cannot be duplicated… Faintly sad, but beautiful, too.
Anyway, I’ll not quite say goodbye – not yet…but I know in a bittersweet way that once the plane door closes behind me, and once I’m again above the Pacific and on my way to a land above the equator, I’ll never again be able to return to this precious gift of here and now, today, this autumn in New Zealand.
Hmmm…as I say that, I’m reminded that each and every time the sun sets (every time the clock ticks, really!) another farewell is bade to an unrepeatable moment…another door closes and locks us out of the past… So yeah. While I strive to remain very much alive in and grateful for these remaining moments in my New Zealand world, you do the same wherever you are. Who knows how many trips around the sun we really have left? Take hold of the time you have – use it wisely…like it or not, there’s no going back…
This year winds to a close, and the future is wide with possibility.
Christmas Eve will soon be over, then our 45-hour Christmas Day begins. Breakfast, a coffee, and a walk through that security gate at Auckland International.
Like it or not, there’s no going back.
We’re so excited to see our family and friends this Christmastime. After a year of travel, the best gift we can imagine is the gift of time with people we love.
Ted and I both wish you and your loved ones the gift of time and the joy of celebration!
I’ll leave you with one last video that always brings a smile to my face. The story of Christmas as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand.