Saturday, October 3, 2009


UNTIL Christmas… yes that’s right! Scary thought. But the process of winding up to the big day of course starts a lot earlier. Here in New Zealand, it’s the wait to see if the Pohutukawa tree, New Zealand’s native Christmas tree will bloom early. Because if the scarlet brush flowers bloom early, usually it’s a sign that we’re going to have a great summer. Because Christmas of course is summer time down under.
While our cousins in the northern hemisphere are rugged up against the snow, we’re baking on the beach, slathered in sunblock and swatting away the sand flies.
I live in Auckland, New Zealand. With a population of one million it’s our largest city. But then, the country only has 4 million people anyway, but about 60 million sheep!
So what is Christmas like down under?
It’s barbecues and long summer nights, it’s swimming and surfing (remember we’re a small island nation and so surrounded by the Pacific ocean and the Tasman Sea. It’s wearing Jandals, and going on holiday to the family bach, it’s eating trifle and pavlova. For some of us it’s eating a traditional Christmas dinner – turkey and the trimmings while the temperature outside is in the high 80s. For our family it’s having kumara pie, my aunt’s specialty. It’s seeing kids on Christmas morning in their PJs racing up and down the street on their new bikes, it’s timing phone calls overseas to their Christmas day, because you see NZ gets the fist of the day first – if you get my drift – and when my friends in Vancouver Canada wake up to Christmas day, I’ll already be at the Boxing day sales (the day after Christmas day). So the festivities of Christmas will be all over for us while for others it's only just starting.

But what is Christmas really like downunder. Just like yours. It’s time about spending time with family and friends.

Now… I know as you read this you’ll be saying what language is that woman talking. Kumara? Pavlova? Jandals?
So here’s a translation of kiwi-speak!

Kumara Sweet potato native to NZs Maori (our indigenous people).

Jandals Flip flops/open rubber sandals

Bach A holiday cottage often by beaches or in remote country areas, a place
to get away from it all

Pavlova NZ’s specialty desert. Like a meringue on the outside, and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. Topped with whipped cream and sliced kiwi. And just because it might have got your taste buds going, here’s a recipe for Pavlova

Trifle A traditional English desert, made with sponge and cream and sherry. Here’s the recipe for Trifle and it’s front a well known New Zealand TV cook..

I love reading Christmas stories and so really loved writing DESPERATELY
SEEKING SANTA. I’m also delighted to say that this book will be out in print this Christmas, and TO KISS AN ANGEL is being released also in December.

Just as a teaser, here’s an excerpt of DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA.

He’d returned. Thankfully.
Her body preened its thanks, arching from the downy folds of the bedcovers, aching for his touch, temptation overruling any coherent thought.
This was her fantasy played out in the shadowy hours of pre-dawn. She welcomed him with open arms, an internal greed of sensual need cohabiting with the desperation of an addict for a fix.
He was her fix. And she wanted him. Now!
Each night proved the same. He came. He teased. And she desperately wanted him.
She couldn’t see him clearly, the mists of fantasy versus reality obscuring him partly. But it was what he did to her that called to her.
His kisses. His touch. His loving.
It refueled her hope he would return.
His hand caressed her breast, tipping her into a world of mindless pleasure.
The staccato buzz seemed a mere whisper at first, slowly intensifying as it became an insistent call to her consciousness. He shifted from her arms and instantly a sense of bereavement washed across her nakedness, left cold and empty by his departure.
“No. Please stay. Love me.”
“Because I...”
The acerbic jangle of her alarm sliced through her dream with a brutal thrust. She jolted upright, shocked by her traitorous body and mind.
She’d been about to say she loved him. But how could she love a fantasy?

Happy sleeps everyone!
Jane Beckenham


Bekki Lynn said...

Jane, this is wonderful. I loved learning about the differences and likenesses of your country around the holidays.

Having two chefs in the family, we're always looking for new recipes, too. Yum!

I love the holidays. And holiday stories. I'm looking forward to your story. It sounds perfect.

Abbey MacInnis said...

Your description of Christmas down under sounds absolutely wonderful. :-)
I can't imagine eating a stick-to-your-ribs dinner with all the trimmings on a hot day.
I miss going to my bach and wearing my jandals in winter. That would be a nice change from snow boots, hats and gloves. :-)
Desperately Seeking Santa sounds fabulous! I can't wait to get my copy!
Thanks for sharing those recipes and giving me a glimpse of what it's like to celebrate a holiday down under. :-)

JaneB said...

Thanks Bekki, it's a lovely time of year. Actually i forgot to add this to my post, this is a link so readers can find out and see pictures of NZ native Christmas tree, the pohutukawa.


Savanna Kougar said...

Jane, thanks for the translations I was going ask about Jambara pie.
Gee, could New Zealand handle two more residents with their critters?
I'm ready to move, even though I love my tame prairie home.

Your Christmas story looks fantastic and loved your fantasy excerpt.

JaneB said...

Hey Savanna, we love visitors and animals, so the more the merrier.

Jane B

JaneB said...

Hey Abbey!
We're always open to visitors!


Bekki Lynn said...

My husband has been wanting to go down for some awesome pheasant hunting. Of course, he'd have to bring me along. :)

JaneB said...

Hubby and I used to live in a very isolated area called Ruatahuna which is the heart of the trout fishing area. We would have people even come from India to fish there.
U can check it out here

Lindsay Townsend said...

Jane, beautiful excerpt. Perfect feelings, lovely sense of dream and longing and utterly delicious!

Fascinating to hear about Xmas in New Zealand. Thanks, for the links to the recipies - I may try them.

Congratulations on Desperately Seeking Santa appearing in print for Xmas! Perfect timing...

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

This sounds so much better than snow and ice. Love the sound of pavlova.

Now a question: you have 60 million sheep, do any of them get barbecued?

Where I grew up in Kentucky barbecue mutton is the best in the world. A mere state away in Tennessee they turn up their noses at the thought of mutton and you can't find it anywhere.

JaneB said...

Thanks lindsay...mind u...spring seems to have deserted us this weekend, it's chilly, chilly.
And wet!

JaneB said...

We normally would bbq lamb chops.
But we had so much lamb as kids, i'm kinda over it.