A Kiwi Xmas in 50 objects
Alistair Bone’s take on the things that make up our Christmas experience.
1 Pohutukawa 7 Roast lamb The New Zealand Christmas tree. A harbour of birds, children and possums. Fittingly, for our agricultural nation, surrounded by blood red spines at its base, as if someone has butchered a pig under its gentle benediction. The tastiest member of the Cute and Completely Trusting Baby Animal food group. Yes, the future is certainly going to be unkind in its judgment. 2 Pavlova 6 The beach Hard to make without collapsing it into a sci-fi goo. Do it once successfully. Boast about it ever after. Buy from then onwards. The eternal contest of NZ v Sea. Endlessly watchable. Alistair Bone’s take on the things that make up our Christmas experience. 3 Barbeque Has a woman ever cooked on a barbecue? A rare sight. It’s a medium-level skill, so let’s make 2012 the year women reclaim the cooking of meat outdoors. So we can all say ‘well done’, you women. 4 New spuds 5 Sixpence But only the scrubbed, clean kind. Is there any other food you’d buy with dirt on it? Allegedly once included in Christmas puddings. Now an offence under the Food Safety Act. 8 Tangiwai 9 Christmas cracker 10 Midnight Mass The mountain. The bridge. The train. The struggle in the black water. Grandma’s single tear at grace. An IED full of fun. Irrelevant cultural hold-over attended by the ignorant and old. Or, the celebration of the birth of God incarnate who brought us a message of universal and unconditional love and set us free from fear forever. Choose the one that makes you happier. 11 Jandals 12 Wet dog Not for use on a black sand beach or motorcycles. You’ll know why as soon as your feet touch the ground on either. Even if you don’t have a dog, you will see one of these over Christmas. Shaking a halo of saltwater off itself at the beach. You always remember it like it’s happening in slow motion. If you’re in luck, it may get close enough for you to catch that mouldy carpet scent of a wet canine. A smell, along with pipe tobacco and the Chanel numbers, which instantly takes you to the ghost of Christmas past. 13 Backyard cricket 14 Socks 15 Secret Santa 16 Pillow case Only in New Zealand would generations of children use these as Christmas stockings. Says something about our greed, really. Not so boring a pressie if you are a bachelor. Necessary things that have to be got. Maybe light on the thoughtfulness (ref: soap, a calendar). Like getting a set of tyres for your wife, really. Appreciated most by the practical. The word is senior management and major shareholders everywhere are participating this year. Stuffing envelopes chock full of money to be opened by grateful employees who may then well be reduced to wide-eyed wonder and speechless joy at the generosity of their wise and thoughtful chiefs. And there will be unicorns at the Christmas party. Lots and lots of unicorns. 18 Mountains of wrapping paper 19 Broken toys by lunchtime It’s Christmas for puss as well. Somewhere, a Chinese manufacturer is choosing a Ferrari that matches his tie. 17 Trifle 18 It’s hard to be serious about this. You know that brother-in-law? The corporate tax lawyer? That guy? One word: Bodyline. 20 Piles of dirty dishes 21 Uncle Sid If movies are to be believed, there’s something about washing dishes with a friend that prompts you to talk about deep and meaningful things. Exploit this if there is something you want to know. Top tip for guys learned the hard way: Don’t arrange the dirty dishes at your flat in an artfully creative pile and take a picture of it and send it to your girlfriend. This goes nowhere good. Like one of those encyclopaedias from the 1950s: stained and full of out-of-date knowledge and inappropriate attitudes. Smells of dust. Not made any more. A taonga. So forgive him for being a grumpy old git who always drinks too much when in the family clutches. 23 Kitsch Kiwiana Christmas decorations 24 Leftover ham At one point, sometime before the fat Elvis, all that tacky junk your grandparents have on their shelves was cool, too. Consider the passage of time. The endless flow of the seasons. Then your inevitable descent into becoming kitsch Kiwiana yourself. Like that scene in The Deerhunter where they are playing Russian roulette with one bullet in the chamber. Did it go in the fridge in time? Did the neighbour’s kids rub their grubby hands over it? Do you feel lucky, punk? Take a bite. You’ll find out if that cylinder was empty or full in about two hours. 22 Christmas cake Like the stone soup fable – awful, unless you add and add and add things on top, like cream and kiwifruit and strawberries – then throw the cake away and eat the topping. 25 Snoopy’s Christmas The immortal tale of a cartoon dog hallucinating a life-and-death struggle with a World War I flying ace has become a Christmas classic. It’s unknown what Jesus thinks of this, but a safe guess he’d probably like it better than the whiny Feed the World anthem that has become his alternate birthday tune. 27 Dad’s beach shorts 26 The Queen’s speech Faded and almost always a size too small, with a tendency to ride down. Guaranteed to get a complaint from children. Ostensibly because they are embarrassed, but really because Dad Shorts are a subconscious trigger of a primal childhood fear. Reminding kids that dad was not always just a cash machine and provider of food. That he was one time an independent being, possibly in possession of a surfboard – back when these shorts fit/were fashionable – and just perhaps maybe could be that again if they become too much of a burden. Rumoured this year to be the announcement of an unprecedented military build-up ahead of a recolonisation of Africa to keep it out of the hands of ‘‘the Oriental horde’’. Alternatively, may be something about the Olympics, family of man, UK revitalisation. Snore. Hope for plan A. 28 Christmas cards with snow on them 29 Christmas tree decorated 30 Christmas tree dead on the kerb The British continue to mock us with pictures of their frozen water. Asking them how that EU thingy is working out can prove an efficient de-smuggifier. Cinderella. Cinders. Continued on B7 31 Sunscreen 32 Indian dairies Buy stock in whoever makes this. Yup. Climate change is a-comin’. Yessir. For Christmas Day emergencies - thank you God(s) for the Hindus. Please come again. 35 Creepy santas in shopping malls 36 Overexcited kids 33 Tacky decorated houses We mean for Christmas, not the World Cup. 34 Camping The great poet Tom Petty said it best in this beautiful haiku: Don’t Have to live Like A refugee. 37 Christmas Eve shopping frenzy 38 Boxing Day shopping frenzy Where you meet great people who were determined not to buy anything for Christmas but gave into their hearts in the end or were too busy doing actual jobs to shop. Embrace it like a cold shower or a mosh pit: good human fun and hunter-gathering that harms fewer animals than a Hobbit movie. When the dead-eyed bargain hunters feed. Avoid like a zombie apocalypse. 39 New video games 40 Afternoon nap 41 Kaimoana 42 Strawberries What would Christmas afternoon be without the tinny clack of an M16 on full auto as it booms from a sub-woofer in the lounge? Hanging out for Deathbringer 16 – Drone Pilot. Rumour says the Pakistan Border expansion pack is sponsored by the CIA and allows for a totally real-time interaction with the lives of illiterate bronze-age peasants. Not without checking on current warnings from your DHB’s Medical Officer of Health you don’t. Still weirdly erotic after all these years. 44 Trash novels 45 Santa parade The usual suspects: Grisham, King, Steele. Mock on from your deck in Whangamata - they’re spending Christmas at their own island served multicoloured drinks brought to them on the back of a Galapagos turtle. How did classic cars get involved in these? Bring back frightened zoo animals. 46 Boxing Day hangover 47 Flogging your gifts on TradeMe 48 Mass text messages 49 Mince pies 50 Skyping the rellies Really? The sort of thing you only do if you are a burglar or accountant. Naff. Man up and give it to the Sallies. I feel very special! Here’s one back. It’s got my favourite phone virus from 2012 attached. Open it up and have a look! So funny! The best part of Christmas, and to some of us, life. Like they’re downstairs in the cells or something and giving evidence on the CCTV. Better than nothing, but can’t wait for 3D. And too-fat, too-young, highschool dropout elves that chew gum with their slack jaws while sloping through the highest paid job they will ever have. Serves your kids right for being born to parents who think they can crystallise the infinite and temporary magic of childhood in a shopping mall. 43 The Christmas work do Top tip learned the hard way: Photocopiers have a little chip in them on which everything, ever, photocopied on them is stored. Including that and those. Avoid unless you want to see something vaguely familiar appear on the internet in about two years. ‘‘Scientists’’ now ‘‘believe’’ giving rambunctious kids lots more sugar and a caffeinated drink or two will calm them right down. Try that and let us know how it goes. In fact, call us first so we can be there to watch. Live for a day like your cat. Of head and tummy. They both hate you. Appease with upcoming New Year’s resolution.