Season’s greetings

1. Secret Santa update

This year’s Secret Santa has proven to be a million times more enjoyable than my previous experience in 2011.

My package arrived. It contained two gifts, which were very entertaining to unwrap. My Santa person took the novelty gift route, giving me a toy basketball hoop, saying s/he knew I didn’t like netball, but hoped basketball was more my thing. (This, oddly enough, is true. I used to watch the weekly NBL games on TV in the ’90s and I almost saw the Lakers play in LA in 1994.). S/he also gave me a notebook and a pen that looks as if ’twere a twig that is surprisingly difficult to write with. The twig-pen seems like some sort of Cold War spy device, like it should contain a compartment for microfilm, to be left behind the third rubbish bin past the duck pond.


Meanwhile, my assigned Secret Santa person has received their gift and they <3 it. It seems to be just the right thing for them, which is a bloody relief. I stressed about it, you know.

My Secret Santa commented on the nice card I sent, and I also liked the card that my Secret Santa wrote me. My friend Dylz received a bloody Samsung Galaxy Note and a Galaxy Gear – which is insanely generous and is actually the perfect gift for him, being a gadget-loving lad who always tweets about the things he loves. But amongst my other pals, a lot of the joy of Secret Santa comes from the personal touches – a nicely written card or letter is all it takes to bring a metric truckload of Christmas cheer.

2. To the market


I like a good map. This one is from a sandwich board alerting passersby to the Raglan Creative Market. It’s got to be a few years old now, because Tongue and Groove cafe is now called The Shack, the information centre has moved, and the “toilets” location is now more excitedly the home of the brand new fancy museum. Still, if you’re standing at the corner of Bow Street and Wainui Road, this map will get you to the Creative Market. The next market is on Sunday 12 January 2014, and there’s a special Auckland Anniversary Weekend three-day market from 25-27 January. It’s quite good.

3. Forty minus one

This is what happens when your birthday is in December – because everyone is so focused on Christmas, you have to wage a massive PR campaign in order to get people to pay attention to your birthday. But this year I couldn’t be bothered, so I took the minimalist approach, like Beyonce’s album launch.

As a result, my birthday greetings were from family, a few friends and Google. Google will always care.


I’m 39 now, which is – oooh – one year from 40. I’m not even sure what 40 is anymore. It used to seem really old and decrepit (viz. “Life Begins at 40”), and then it moved into the lively but naff cool-dad stage. Now I look at people in their early 40s and some of them seem tired and middle-aged while others seem youthful and energetic. Why, it’s almost as if there’s no such thing as being in one’s 40s and that it all comes down to individual personalities.

I’ve just discovered terrible world of “things to do before you turn 40” lists. I found one list that included must-dos such as “go camping”, “go abroad” and “go to the beach”, which are actually compulsory, government-mandated activities for all young New Zealanders. In fact, a lot of these lists have things I’ve already done: learn to play a musical instrument, make sangria, get in your car and just drive, take an improv class, learn to change a tyre, get a new hairstyle. All this ordinary stuff in my life becomes epic life-changing events if it’s added to a list. Hey, that was easy.

And then it’s always 40 things to do before you turn 40. Twenty before 20 or 30 before 30 are easier, but 40 before 40 becomes a mammoth, all-consuming task. It’s almost one per week.

I could be like my aunt who chose six labours to complete before her 60th birthday, like baking six loaves of bread. Another of those things was reading the first 600 pages of “Ulysses”, but she impressively managed the whole damn thing. Years ago I read about a third before I gave up, so maybe that could be a thing for me. And at least it’s more substantial than those weird tasks like “don’t forget to breathe”.

So maybe the first couple of items on my list shall be:

  1. Finish reading Ulysses.
  2. Come up with a few more things to do before I turn 40.

Hmmm, I think I feel another couple of items coming on.

  1. Explore historic Northland.
  2. Learn to say “Hi, my name is Robyn. I am 40 years old.” in 40 languages of the world.

Whoa, check that out. I’ve already achieved one thing! Let’s update the list:

  1. Finish reading Ulysses.
  2. Come up with a few more things to do before I turn 40.
  3. Explore historic Northland.
  4. Learn to say “Hi, my name is Robyn. I am 40 years old.” in 40 languages of the world.

3 thoughts on “Season’s greetings”

  1. I turned 39+1 earlier this year, having arranged to be with friends in a far, faraway place. That was excellent, but even better was my decision to turn off Facebook. Not permanently, mind – I’m not a cave-dwelling hermit. Just for the week. That, and asking my friends if they wouldn’t mind avoiding using the actual word ‘forty’, got me through with flying colours.

  2. In all seriousness, I would love to read your perspective on historic Northland, which I visited in 2005. I felt like I was in the cradle of civilisation even though I didn’t go much further afield than the standard tourist routes.

    1. I briefly visited in 2006, and earlier on a family holiday in 1985 (which was more notable for my dad yelling at the large happy-clappy Christian group in the campground who’d drive around every night shouted “praise Jesus!”). But yeah, a proper explore has long been on the cards, so hopefully I’ll be able to get something organised this year!

Leave a Reply