Midwinter Festivities

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Winter flowers and candles burning bright.

The winters since I left home have been the longest and the darkest. I never really knew winter blues until there were no hot home-cooked roasts, no roaring fireplace to curl up in front of with a cat on my lap. There was nothing to love about those coldest months anymore. Rain that went on for days wasn’t cosy and romantic anymore, not when I was hurrying home from an ugly lecture theatre that was too big to feel comforting, to a flat that was cold, dark and usually messy. Even on the brightest of winter days, the flat gets no direct sunlight in any of the rooms. It didn’t help that it was after leaving home that my anxiety got really settled in. Mental illness matches well with heavy rainy days and long bitter nights. All I wanted to do was hibernate until I could wake up in the heat of summer, when the weather wouldn’t make me feel quite so hopeless.

This winter, though, has been different. Christmas in July has changed winter completely for me. I decided when it was still summer that I was going to make this happen, no matter what, and I have. I’ve embraced everything Christmas, but that’s also led on to me embracing all the good things about winter – not just decorating my room and putting up the tree and listening to carols all the time. I’ve also learned how to make mulled wine and cook yummy roasts; I’ve been loving wearing lots of (festive) layers against the cold and drinking hot spiced drinks; I’ve surprised myself by even enjoying walks along Wellington’s notoriously brisk waterfront at night. I’ve been ice skating, I’ve run along Oriental Parade at night and admired the “Christmas trees” (the big old palm trees are covered in fairy lights that glow different colours at night, probably all year round), I’ve watched terrible Christmas films, I’ve lit the fire when I went home to visit my family, and I’ve enjoyed big beautiful bubbly baths on bloody cold evenings.

I like that I’ve learned to embrace the seasons as they come, and that I’ve found ways to enjoy the bitter cold – both with friends and by myself.

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Enjoying wine and candles by the Christmas tree after a late shift at work.

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On a cold clear night I met Tess after she finished her shift at Lush, and we went for yummy treats at Mac’s Brewbar on the waterfront – a bowl of hot chips for her, and a tall mug of mulled wine for me. After that, we went ice skating. We were both shockingly terrible at first, but thanks to some talented skaters we befriended on the ice, we gradually became only mildly terrible. It was a lot of fun. The best part was probably when ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen came on the speakers.

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Mulled wine at Mac’s.

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The happiest sight on winter evenings: my mini Christmas tree and some candles burning (beeswax offcut from National Candles in the front, and a roasted chestnut scented candle from Aromatherapy Co. in the copper jar at the back). Adding the warm yellow string of lights to my tree made it a million times better.

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An adventure on a bright clear day led us past the Parliament buildings. It was nice to get all bundled up with hats and scarves, and then get out and enjoy the sunshine.

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Kapiti Coast on a crisp sunny morning. I was on my way back to Hawke’s Bay for the weekend, a route I’m very familiar with, and I think this is the most beautiful the coast has ever looked (and it’s usually stunning). There’s something about a deep blue winter sea that I love.

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Oriental Parade at night, with the trees all lit up and glowing in the dark.

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It’s not winter without gingerbread men that are almost too adorable to eat. (Almost!)

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Festive owl serviettes, chai latte and family time at my grandma’s place in Hawke’s Bay.

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Gold eyes and red lips all month long! I realised this month that I’ve actually acquired a lot of red lipsticks over the years. Suffice to say they all got a turn to shine in July.

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And of course, the Santa hat!

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Comet with her new mouse, worn out after an evening of games. (Not pictured: the roaring fire keeping us warm.)

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Finally, I couldn’t have a post about winter without including a festive Lush bath bomb. This is Lord of Misrule in action.

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