Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving, and other things that don't happen in New Zealand

            Today was kitchen cleaning.   Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.   At least, tomorrow is Thursday, November 24 in New Zealand – but it will still be Wednesday the 23rd in Alaska and West Virginia, which means that it’s a little premature to be calling friends and family in the States to wish them a happy holiday.   So, I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving today.   I’ll be not celebrating Thanksgiving again tomorrow, too – which is when the holiday will be taking place in the States.   Tomorrow, I will probably be getting the obligatory call from my family  - you know, the one where they pass a phone around to fifteen different people over the course of five minutes while they’re waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven.   And by that point, it will (in New Zealand) already be the next day.   New Zealand, never having had pilgrims, does not celebrate this holiday at all, regardless of what day it is.   But with the confusion brought about by the fact that I am living a day ahead of the US, it seems like it really doesn’t happen here.   Or, that I’m being given the opportunity to not celebrate it twice – once when it’s the 24th here, and again when it’s the 24th in America.

            One immediate benefit to not celebrating Thanksgiving is that there is no kiwi equivalent to Black Friday.   I don’t need to avoid any stores, or prepare for a huge line at the grocery.   None of the sort of ‘cry-havoc-and-release-the-dogs-of-war’ sort of retail event that American shops tend to specialize in.   And the progression up to Christmas seems to be on a mellower trajectory – the occasional sign in front of a shop, or an end shelf full of mince pies at the  grocery store.   No trees are up.   No one’s decorating with Christmas lights.    There isn’t any more red and green that there ought to be, and the radio stations are still playing the music they usually do.    As far as I can tell, Christmas in New Zealand means making mince pies, eating lamb, and cooking a meal or two on the barbeque.   Which is what most New Zealanders seem to do at most other times of the year as well.   So, if there’s going to be a big commercially-driven, free-market assault on the holiday, all I can say is that there’s no sign of it here in Kaikoura.   Just think about how much time that would leave for the Jesus stuff.   I think it’ll be a nice change.

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