‘Tis the Season It is December 1st, that ominous day, when expatriates like myself curse having missed the last guaranteed posting date for Europe, and anyone of the “planner” mentality curses not having started their Christmas shopping earlier. It strikes me that we won’t send Christmas cards to loved ones for much longer - a dying trend in an age of short-attention spans. In fact, many of the traditions I celebrated with my parents at Christmas will simply not be relevant for the Internet Generation. Not that I am a Luddite - on the contrary, I believe that the developments during my lifetime have, for the most part, made life better for the majority. But knowing me, you will know that I have a soft spot for traditions. My favourite Christmas memories are our family traditions. The smells and colours of Christmas baking with mum (our experiments making sweet mince were the subject of many happy hours)... The giggles of tree-decoration with Jill (often deteriorating into sister-decoration!)... The excitement of a cold Christmas morning unwrapping the gadgets Dad had found to pop in our stockings (my favourite was our first holograms). I am determined, therefore, not to give up my Christmas card tradition without a fight. So this year, I asked myself, what exactly is it that I need to communicate with my friends in far-away lands? That I miss you and care about you? Certainly. That I can’t wait to see you again, but I don’t know when it’ll be? Sad but true. That I’m still here, I
haven’t dropped into some antipodean wormhole? Perhaps that’s most important, athough at times I do feel very far away. So here I am. 2011 for me has been a year of waiting and of learning. Waiting, because I do very much want to see Europe again, but funds have not allowed it so far. Learning because I have a growing passion for a field called ‘data visualisation’. In brief, data vis means making charts. Good data vis is hugely powerful. I’ve had to teach myself many tools. There have been challenging forays into computer programming and creative software. I have pushed myself to improve my design skills and I’m gradually building a portfolio I can be proud of. What, I wonder, have been the themes of your 2011? Christmas and the turning of the new year have, for centuries, been ‘time-outs’ from the regular cycle of working life to think about past and future. This Christmas I’ll be celebrating in kiwi style: a relaxed barbecue with Ross’ family, followed by a camping trip to the ‘winterless north’ of New Zealand. Here the traditions are different: beach supplants fireside, pohutukawa replaces holly, jandals are the fashion, rather than knitted jumpers. The spirit of the season, however, remains very much the same. With love,
Graphics by Sue, for you.