It is Christmas time. It is the best time of year. I am not Christian, but one does not have to believe in the Trinity to celebrate. For me this time of year is about family and food.
My whole family is in Pakistan, so Christmas is about my New Zealand family, the relationships I have developed since I moved to Aotearoa in 2010.
Through time I have turned into a typical New Zealander. I habitually voice my disdain when the commercial aspects of Christmas start off in October, but I secretly love it. I overtly display my dislike of songs by Wham and Mariah Carey, but I always find myself humming “all I want for Christmas is you” while doing the chores. I resent the fact that John has never worn the cheery pair of socks that I got him for Secret Santa last year. I am furious that nobody followed the $20 limit for buying Secret Santa presents. Everyone was a hero, and I was the schmuck who stuck to the rules and bought socks. I got the best socks. Twenty dollars is a lot of money for socks, I wanted the best for John while sticking to the rules. Still, I am looking forward to this year’s Secret Santa. My days are spent thinking about how to stick to the Secret Santa rules and be the hero to Jules.
“Oh my god, oh my god, this is the best gift I have ever received. You are my hero, Ed” is the scene I daydream about. This is the year I will be the hero of the Christmas party.
Like everyone, I am looking forward to the Christmas lunch. It is not a usual Kiwi Christmas lunch with roast meats, vegetables, trifles, drunk uncles, backyard cricket and afternoon naps. Every year, my wife and I go to an Indian friend of ours and have lunch with her family. She puts on a feast that is a mixture of typical north Indian and Bengali dishes. In characteristic South Asian fashion, I get love-bullied to eat twice the amount of my body weight and I am not a light fella. My friend’s dad (everybody calls him Uncle) acts like he is in charge of the proceedings, but of course, the real conductor of this chaotic orchestra is my friend. There are shouting matches, spilled food, tears, and laughter. Most of my time is spent trying to hide from Uncle who is constantly trying to get me to drink like it is the last Christmas on earth. The feast goes till the late hours of the night culminating in some very bad home karaoke with Bollywood songs.
My second home in Aotearoa has become as important to me as my first home in Pakistan. I have grown new roots here and this is my home now. Hence, the answer to the question, where are you from, can be Pakistan and New Zealand. Christmas is one of many building blocks of these new roots. It is the best time of year.