Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The year Christmas returned

I actually had a Christmas this year, unlike last year, and I was so involved in it that I never thought about taking any photos during the day. This year, my brother-in-law picked up me (and well as my mother-in-law, who I normally drive to family functions, so I could have some wine. I never drink even a single drop if I’m driving (something I’ve talked about in the past). Best of all (from his perspective), Leo got to come along, too.

Before I was picked-up, I tried to convince Leo to take a Christmas Day photo with me, but he was more interested in looking out the front window, so I gave up. That ended up being the last time I even thought about taking a photo that day.

The day was had lots or rain, often heavy, but it was nevertheless filled with lots of good food, talk, and laughs, and after dinner we played a board game. My brother-in-law took us home, and I opened the door to my house at 10:58pm (which I know because the app for my alarm system told me, and I think it’s funny that I the time know so precisely). I watched TV for a while and was in bed around one, which is actually a pretty typical thing for me.

I got up this morning feeling fine (because I didn’t overindulge in wine), however, it was a much longer and more active day yesterday than I’m used to, and it was for Leo, too, so we were both tired today and napped this afternoon. Other than that, I mostly read today, though I did two loads of washing and changed my bedding (something I usually do on a Monday, but decided to delay until today).

Today, Boxing Day, is usually New Zealand’s busiest shopping day of the year, but this year retailers started pushing “Boxing Sale” (usually without the word “Day”) promotions a couple days before Christmas when. On Christmas Day, I received around a dozen emails promoting various sales (often several emails from the same retailer). That was the only way for retailers to promote their sales on Christmas Day because TV ads are banned that day. And, online store were likely open on Christmas Day, unlike their physical counterparts. Today I saw a TV ad for one retailer that said their Boxing Day sales was “one day only”—as nature intended it to be.

A week or so before Christmas, the media ran stories about how retail sales were down this year, and how stores hoped sales would pick up. Then, the news media repeated the process, this time talking about early Boxing Day sales. However, for months on end, the governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand berated and scolded and harangued New Zealanders because we dared to spend money (and he practically demanded that unemployment rise). Then last week the news narrative was suddenly all about how we all had to spend more money to help the poor beleaguered retailers. It’s impossible to keep up with the narrative these days.

Meanwhile, some 5,000 “unwanted Christmas presents” have been listed on NZ online auction/selling site Trade Me since yesterday. That made me wonder how often someone finds out a gift they gave someone was being sold because they saw it on Trade Me—or maybe as part of news coverage about the listings. If that happens, it’d be kind of an unmerry end to Christmas.

My 2023 Christmas was completely different from last year’s, and back to being what they always have been: A family function get-together with a mountain of food. This was my fifth Christmas without Nigel, but we mentioned him in our stories, when they came up, just like we might talk about anyone else. I’m often struck by how fortunate I am that Nigel and I had no Christmas traditions of our own, other than spending it with family, because in the past few weeks I’ve seen folks in my LGBT widowers Facebook groups worrying about how they’d cope with the holidays. From what I’ve read, holidays can be a particularly difficult time for many people grieving a loss.

Taken all together, this year was low-key in a lot of ways. Good food and company, as always, but I forgot to take any photos, and when I got home I was too tired to do a blog post on the Christmas Day. In any case, that’s the end of the Christmas holidays, and now at the beginning of next week we’ll have the New Year holidays. Hopefully I’ll remember to take a photo or two at for that. I wouldn’t count on me remembering that, though. Sometimes, things don’t change, after all, depsite our best intentions.

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