Toast Note - 21 December
Everyone is leaving. It started Monday with trickle then every hour, every day since has been an ever increasing flood of hugs and laughter and swapping of plans as the office gradually empties out. It’s hard for an American to grasp. For my US friends, imagine combining Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Independence Day holidays into one long disappearance. Kiwis just… evaporate. The cities empty out and everyone larks off to a bach or campground on beaches, by lakes, and in mountains for… weeks. Like, I know this is super hard to believe but WEEKS. Half the people vanishing this week won’t be seen again until mid-January at the earliest. It’s like the Germans in August but with tinsel, Santa Claus and Die Hard playing silently on the wall monitors in Digital.
As a culture, somehow Kiwis manage to combine the strong work ethic of their Irish, Scots, and English ancestors with the laid back, que sera island time ethos of their Pacific Island heritage. When they are working, they work hard and by god they will DIY the hell out of anything. Yet at the end of the day, they just go home. At the end of Friday, they often go home early or meet up on the roof or in a bar to tip one. And during this season, they just vanish. All of them. Everyone sports t-shirts, jandals, and a smile. Those few still in the office on a Thursday afternoon are cleaning out their Inbox, wiping down the desk, packing up stuff we should have taken home weeks ago, clearing the fridge of lunches of meetings past. When I send this, I will instantly drown in Out of Office messages. And for those very few of us working tomorrow or the day after New Years, we do because we cherish the insane peace and quiet and relish the opportunity to do deep work uninterrupted by emails, meetings, or coworkers.
Back in the States, I remember editing a technical guide the day after Christmas. I was smugly proud of synchronising my laptop at the hospital the day after Aeron was born. It is only now with the benefit of a decade distance from those behaviours that I realise how unhealthy that was. I like this norm better where my boss shuts off all but urgent notifications and drops out of touch for 3 weeks and all my peers lark off to god knows where to get sand in their private bits and corn stuck in their teeth, unabashedly not working for a Long Long Summer Time.
This year, I will leave my laptop at the office. Just give it a go. I might be allergic to pohutukawa, but otherwise I think I’m finally adapting to New Zealand Christmas. Have a lovely time of rest and healing, my friends!
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ~ Maya Angelou