It’s almost winter here in the southern hemisphere. The leaves have changed colour and, alas, so have I- my marvelous tan from a summer spent (strategically) lazing around on New Zealand’s sandy beaches has faded away to almost the same pale, pasty grey as the sky was when I was walking home from work today. The days are getting colder and shorter and so am I (well, my hair got shorter last week), but through the cold and gloom I often catch myself smiling thinking about all of the exciting things that I associate with the colder seasons. And there I was this morning donning my scarf and gloves for the frigid three-minute commute to the office, grinning away for no outwardly apparent reason, when it suddenly dawned on me- this is not the winter that I know and love! :o I mean, it’s the end of fall (autumn for you non-Americans), so didn’t we miss my birthday? And what about Thanksgiving?! By my confused brain’s calculations Thanksgiving should have been last Thursday! Where’s my green bean casserole?! It feels like winter, but it’s all backwards! :o The thing is, I really love this time of year! I love the crispness of a clear fall day when all the leaves have just changed colour- the streets are beautiful, like rusted rainbows, with all of the reds and yellows and browns… Fall gives me such a cuddly feeling! I love the smell of the fallen leaves- it makes me feel all autumnal… Christchurch has been beautiful the last few weeks! But then comes winter which usually means sleigh bells and icicles and snow and Christmas with my family and hot chocolate… Now, don’t get me wrong- I don’t want to disparage a kiwi winter- I haven’t even experienced one yet! But I’ve started to wonder just what there is to look forward to in winter in New Zealand! =/ Once I got my head on a straight enough to realize that it’s actually May and that there’s no pumpkin pie or Silent Night looming close on the horizon, I started to wonder how all of these kiwis make it through such a dreary time of year without all of the good stuff! In our immediate family the birthdays start with my mom’s in late August and roll steadily by until November, so every month there’s something to celebrate. Then comes Thanksgiving- my favourite holiday (not so much for the massacring of native peoples as for the broccoli and mashed potatoes). And then it’s time to get in the holiday spirit, which means an endless rotation of my 100+ CD’s of Christmas music for a month! Everywhere you go there are decorations and twinkling lights, and there’s that special wintery Christmas tingle in the air… But not in New Zealand! Christmas is in the summer and they don't have Thanksgiving at all! I have conducted a little research, and though skiing and the Queen's birthday were mentioned, it seems like the main attraction here in winter is rugby. They're rugby mad down here! So, though I’m not entirely convinced it will be as magical as Christmas lights and candy canes, I’m going to the rugby next month- the All Blacks against England here in Christchurch. I’m sure it will be wonderful, and I may even love it more than I expect to, but I have to say- it’s just not pumpkin pie, is it?