Sunday, December 25, 2011

Around the World: Christmas in Rotorua, New Zealand

December 25, 1991

First order of business this morning was to move from the dive we spent the night in to the YHA.  What an incredible difference!  The room is clean, bright and spacious.  There's a jacuzzi and a private bathroom with shower and a comfortable common room to hang out, watch TV, read, whatever.  Opposite the front desk is a bulletin board with an invitation for guests of the hostel to join a local family for Christmas dinner.  Both Gail and I added our names to the list.

A man came to the hostel and picked up Gail and I, plus four other hostel mates and drove us to his home.  He introduced us to his wife, Sue, and their grown children.  The food was awesome and spread out over three picnic tables in their backyard.  Salads and cold meat to start while the steaks cooked on the BBQ.  I ate enough for four people, for sure.  This family I had just met treated all of us like we had been friends for ages.  We chatted about the different countries we were from and places we would like to visit over dinner, coffee and several options for dessert.  Even the dogs welcomed everyone with wagging tails.

I don't have the words to express how incredibly welcome this family made all of us feel, especially being so far away from family and things familiar.  There were no presents exchanged and nothing was expected, but to enjoy a home cooked meal, served with conversation over generosity and kindness.  The evening was such a thoughtful gift, completely unto itself, to feel so very much at home in the company of strangers.

N.B.: I still don't know which way the water goes down the drain.  It goes up and then straight down in the toilet.  I even filled up the sink and watched it get sucked into the drain - straight down!  What's worse is I can't remember which way water goes down the drain at home.

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"When a group of professional people asked a group of 4-to-8-year olds,
'What does love mean?'
one replied, 'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas
if you stop opening presents and just listen.'"
~Warren McLaren