Brian Edwards Media

Hiding from Christmas

I don’t look forward to Christmas. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I dread it, but it looms on the horizon like a small malevolence – somewhere between weeding the garden and root canal.

I can’t remember when this antipathy started, but it seems to go back to childhood. I suppose reactions are tempered by early experience – and whether your Christmas presents tended towards new bikes or new knickers.

My British Nana insisted that we ate Christmas lunch dressed in our stiff and formal Sunday best, facing an array of roasts, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, dried fruit, nuts and mince pies – in Hawke’s Bay heat that could melt the asphalt on the roads. After lunch the men would rush to discard their suits for shorts and singlets and do mysterious things under car bonnets – headless bodies apparently being devoured by engines. The women, having spent the morning preparing lunch, spent a good part of the afternoon washing up and then preparing the leftovers for dinner.

Christmas was about the only time our family ever took a drink. Needless to say, a glass-and-a-half was all it took for euphoria to set in, quickly followed by the revival of decades-old feuds and resentments.

So when I joined the NZBC’s announcing staff in my late teens and discovered that the young and unattached were expected to cover Christmas Day shifts and release the married and encumbered into the bosoms of their families, colleagues got trampled in my rush to volunteer.  

Christmas Day broadcasting had the dual effect of feeding the inner martyr and being a perfect excuse to escape from family gatherings. The peace and stillness of Broadcasting House was broken only by Reception ringing to report the delivery of yet another pile of edible goodies for the poor souls working while the world was celebrating. The announcers on ZB and ZM were tasked with fulsomely thanking the donors – which would set off the next round of offerings to be shared around. It was equally good down at the television studio, with an even  better selection of celebratory fare arriving at the doors. Wine (strictly forbidden) was sipped in coffee cups. Safe enough. There wasn’t a boss to be seen.  Now this was a Christmas to enjoy!

So when Brian and I decided to volunteer at the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas Day lunch last year, to me it almost felt like coming home. No peace and damn-all stillness, but more than compensated for by the pleasure of watching lonely people having a good meal and a great time. This was followed by the joy of putting our feet up and collapsing for the rest of the day with a bottle of wine and a clear conscience.

We’ll be down at the Events Centre again this year, and the City Missioner has asked for help in raising funds to feed the couple of thousand people who will turn up. It costs only about $10 a head. If you’d like to sponsor a meal or two, click on the link below to our fundraising page. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy the photo of Brian masquerading as a Christmas elf!

And if there aren’t many posts from either of us for the next week or so, it’s just because we’re both suffering from a serious case of Bah Humbug.



  1. 1

    Having just spent the late afternoon cooking sausages to be given away to the towns people while we all listened to local musicians giving their version of Xmas cheer I know what a buzz that gives especially to a Xmas grump

  2. Well, JC, we had a saying in provincial radio: the loneliness of the long distance announcer. Good heavens, Karelia suite/Sibelius was the opening theme for 2zd Masterton. Christmas into New Year was a regular rota for the gp announcer, not so much a radio doctor, more a general factotum. Still, it was fun working with an engineer. We put 3ZB off the air on New Years Eve trying to reproduce through open mike the sound of champagne corks popping. There were collegial times in the BH newsroom working with the subs. Ken brought in a Bombe Alaska. Just as well it had an E on it or alarms would have sounded.

  3. Christmas greetings and boundless festive joy to all.

    This year, I’m going to satisfy my curiosity as to what kind of kai is served up at the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas Day lunch. So, will dress down and take the immediate whanau there for a free feed.
    We always do Christmas dinner, anyway. Thank god for oven auto timers.

  4. We don’t need to be a slave to ritual any more than to fashion. Make both into what suits you and your circumstances.

    This year we will be taking our daughter to lunch at the viaduct before she flies to Oz and we drive home to turn over our holiday house on Boxing Day for a new guest. We will enjoy ourselves and make things nice for others as well.

  5. This end my children and I (Sophie 43, Zelda 40, and Naomi 36 are looking forward to an awesome Christmas ably supported by sister Rachel from another dimension.

    For me, this Friday, December 21st 2012, is very important and extremely exciting as it will herald in the Age of Aquarius and the feminine–i.e. the Heart, whereas we have been living pretty unsuccessfully in the main in the Piscean Age for thousands of years and being ruled by the Head, the masculine.

    Anyhow, whatever you’re doing and wherever you’re doing it this December 25th our family in Muswell Hill, London, UK send you LOVE LIGHT AND LAUGHTER.

    Many hugs to you all. Pearl

  6. Amongst the lonely and friendless keep an eye open for David Cunliffe.

  7. @Ben, I think the whole Labour caucus could possibly be described that way. After all, with friends like those, who needs enemies?

  8. Alan, I had not realised that the City Mission had rented Eden Park to accommodate the event.

  9. JC: “I don’t look forward to Christmas. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I dread it, but it looms on the horizon like a small malevolence”

    Knowing your stated antipathy towards Christmas and to keep true to the spirit of your sentiments, rather than Brian “masquerading as a Christmas elf”, he could always dress up as Beelzebub. And you might like to go as Medusa.

  10. Well you certainly have pricked the bubble of family sociability at Christmas. Luckily it doesn’t always apply so I’ll be enjoying my family Christmas. Hope you do too. Happy Christmas to all.

  11. Regardless of how we view Christmas, it is still a time to relax, put the year behind us, and look forward to a New Year and hope for better things.

    I think this goes beyond the religious concepts of Christmas to deeper human need to mark the passage of time and for rejuvenation.

    Of course, for those with religious inclinations, Christmas marks one of the greatest events in human history…

    Regardless of how we view this time of year, I feel we can still set aside our daily toils, and for just one day of the year – relax.

    Wishing you, Judy & Brian, a good Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

  12. To those of you who donated to the City Mission through our fund-raising page:

    You bought a slap-up Christmas lunch for no less than 55 people. Thank you so much!