Summerset Mount Denby retirement village residents, from left: Bruce and Ngaire McLean, Shirley Mellsop, Marcia Alley, Glenys Kerr, Ann Barham, Gareth Foster, and Noeline Dean. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The great Kiwi Christmas has evolved for many from the sentiment surrounding the birth of Jesus, as described in scripture, to sand, sun and backyard barbecues.
The Advocate caught up with residents at the Summerset Mount Denby retirement village to hark back to their favourite Christmas memories.
Shirley Mellsop, 75.
“My Christmas growing up was on a farm. We always had lamb for dinner and our Christmas pudding always had thruppences in it. If you got a button it meant you were going to be a spinster – none of us ever did I think.
“I remember my brothers running around the house to make enough room for another piece of pudding.”
Ngaire McLean, 82.
“It was back in 1980, we had all of our family together but we also had several overseas yachting people come and share the day with us. They bought loads of stories which kept the younger ones entertained. They bought different food to put on the table. We had a really exciting day.
“They were from all over – the US, Germany, two French Canadian girls told us how it was always their job as children to take all the meat off the bones from Christmas dinner to make stock out of it.”
Marcia Alley, 74.
“My family would load up the car with presents, the cat, the budgie, mum, dad, and us four girls to drive down to where my grandparents live. We’d spend the whole school holidays down there.
“I still have a Christmas decoration, although he’s showing his age, that I got when I was about 10. He is a little pine cone made into an elf – although a one-legged elf now.
All my sisters got one each and mine’s been all around the world and back. I couldn’t bear to part with him.”
Glenys Kerr, 79.
“I remember at a very young age – I was born in the UK – we always had a pillowcase at Christmas and all I wanted was an orange. As long as I got that orange I was happy.
“And my mum found one. I don’t know where she got it from. In the UK and Europe you couldn’t get an orange at that time of year and it was after the war when things were really difficult. But that was all I wanted, an orange.
“I still have a cardboard fairy that sits on the top of the tree, that I’ve had since I was 3 or 4. She is looking very bedraggled, needs a hairdresser as well, but it means a lot to me.”
Ann Barham, 71.
“My best Christmas was last year. I said to my family I’m not doing Christmas and having a big meal, all we’re doing is having a ham sandwich and we’ll meet you at Paihia, at the beach.
“The whole beachfront was chocka blocked with people. You couldn’t even get a place on the sand to put anything down. Everybody had the same idea to have a picnic lunch.
“That was my best Christmas because my family was there running around, jumping off the wharf. We had a lot of fun – it was just simple.”
Gareth Foster, 70.
“I just enjoy Christmas where I spend it with family and friends. It’s the easiest way to keep it simple and fun.”
Noeline Dean, 75.
“My daughter took me to the beach and she wanted to sunbathe topless. I said, ‘go on do it.’ And she said, ‘I’m not going to do it unless you do it. Oh, come on mum.’
“So there we were in our bikini bottoms with our bikini tops over our faces so no one would know it was us.”