A small party at my house tonite: Megan, Matiu and me; the Lyden-Elleray family, including Auntie Cathy; and Bridget and Sarah my Toronto friends. Kids decorating gingerbread houses, Christmas-themed charades, nachos with lurid red and green 'Holiday' corn chips, a few prezzies from home, so much delicious sweet kai, hot chocolate with peppermint sticks, and good times.
Matiu is knocked out in bed, and Megan and I have finished packing up after the party. The Christmas iTunes playlist continues to quietly keep us enveloped in the festive mood, on nonstop shuffle, and will do until I close this laptop in a few minutes.
We're in it: this is it; this is Christmas.
After a time of preparation - Advent - this is finally the real thing. The season of getting ready has given way to the actual celebration. Before we rush on to regret already the too-soon passing of this time together, let me spend time enjoying and appreciating every part of it...
Of course I'm thinking about home, and whanau around the world, and friends elsewhere... for Lauren and Jed, this is the first - and much hoped for - first Christmas with Holden and Alex... for us, the first Christmas without Grandad. People are travelling, visiting, hosting, standing still. People are spending time with people, missing other people, feeling deeply satisfied, feeling deeply lonely. So many family memories: Halcombe, singing at the 'Upper Hutts' when Megan and I were the first kids of our generation, waking up on warm early-summer mornings, elaborate table decorations, church, church, church, more singing, lots of good kai, returning home to the smell of a Christmas tree that's been drying out and filling the air with its aroma in a warm house in Auckland, Christmas dinner leftovers at the Te Punga cousins picnics... so many more... some that Matiu will share, and others he won't experience... but one day when he's an old man he'll tell people about his few dim memories of his six-year-old Christmas in Canada.
This is it. Christmas.