# 49 A Christmas Tale

On Christmas Day I spent most of the day helping in the kitchen and serving food at the Mosaic Church Christmas Community Lunch. Who knew peeling potatoes, kumara, and getting ‘emotional’ chopping onions could be such a humbling experience. Many were volunteers from the Mosaic Church, and others like myself, just members of the community giving up our time to give others a better Christmas otherwise. For those few hours, all things were right in the world.

This was my first year volunteering, and you can tell the veterans who brought their own knives, and some even came with aprons. I was rusty with my peeling skills, and saw how quick others were at the job.

The hall had been decorated overhead with crepe paper, tinsel and paper stars. There must have been at least 200 people seated - men, women and children, locals and tourists, all sharing a meal.

I got home about 3.30pm and had a nap. That nap turned to a deep sleep and I woke up around 6.30pm, my hair noted from sweat, mouth dry and the room felt like a sauna. The day passed much like any other.

In the Philippines, Christmas Day is a big deal. It’s actually several days of eating starting Christmas Eve and rolls on until December 27, where birthdays were also celebrated. We then have a few days rest until New Years Eve. We would go to midnight mass, and then have Noche Buena, which is a small midnight snack and would open one present each. Then the next day we get to open the rest of the presents and the feasting begins all over again.

Somewhere inside of me are words that need to come out - why am I so afraid of my truth?

Christmas Eve last year I was married, spending the night with people that I knew on a shallow level. I could have slept through the night and they wouldn’t have noticed. This year I spent it alone, going to bed at 9.30pm. I fell asleep to something on Lightbox and woke up in the middle of the night hungry, realising I forgot to eat dinner.

I left for Te Araroa on Boxing Day, camping for a couple of nights and hoping to break my writer’s block. The laptop stayed at home, and I went back to the old paper and pen. Somewhere inside of me are words that need to come out - why am I so afraid of my truth? JC and I arrived at the campsite early afternoon, and pitching up my small tent took what felt like an eternity. Tired from the morning drive, I fell asleep around 9.30pm to the sound of laughter, birds and sheep. JC slept outside, like a good guard dog.

The next day I found myself waking up early, and JC was restless. I walked her around the campsite and that seemed to calm her down. Around 7am I found myself standing in the laundry room, as I promised to keep checking in with my family at least once a day. Social media is good like that.

On a trip to Cambodia, our tour guide said that temples had a steep climb because the path to heaven isn’t easy. The climb to the East Cape Lighthouse wasn’t easy either, yet the view was worth it. I have done this climb many times as kid, but I don’t remember the drive taking so long. I passed a feather on the steps and smiled, it’s like my angels were saying, “Left this here so you know we’re thinking of you.”

New Year’s Eve is in two days, yet again no plans. Maybe I will spend it alone, stargazing somewhere. Maybe I will have a midnight kiss. All I know is that next year will be better, I will be happier, and when love comes calling, I won’t be afraid anymore.

Ronna Grace Funtelar

A thirtyish storyteller, hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.