Gareth Edwards is glad to be living out of the big city, especially at Christmas time.

“I think people spend a lot of time worrying about what they need to do, where they’ll go for Christmas and how they’ll afford it all,” the Raglan resident says. “I see people trawling through the malls, looking miserable as they desperately look for presents they can give people, when it would be more pleasant to simply spend time with those people instead.” 

As someone who values mental wellbeing he thinks that at this time of year – when things can get out of kilter - it’s good to take a moment to breathe, let go of all that mind chatter, and be present. 

Remember to go with the flow

“Our family enjoys a very peaceful, relaxed Christmas where we can go with the flow,” he says. “So while there’s a few small gifts in the morning, we prefer playing Christmas songs; eating fresh food from our garden; heading to the beach or the school pool if the weather is nice; or playing a game of soccer or swing ball.” 

The family have recently rediscovered the joy of playing cards, so Gareth says they’re looking forward to involving their Christmas visitors in a big game of sevens or knock out whist. 

He also plans to introduce his son Jack to some of the classic Christmas movies he enjoyed when he was a child. 

Being with family should be a time of cheer

His only regret is not being with his relatives back in the UK. “I have this fantasy that I could parachute in about 3pm on Christmas Eve to see my parents and siblings and teleport back to Aotearoa about 12pm on the 2 January!” he says. 

Luckily, Skype’s a great way to keep in touch. Along with chatting over the internet, Gareth’s started singing Christmas carols and nursery rhymes with his nephews and nieces. This year they will be treated to a special tune from Uncle Gareth - an original Christmas rock song. 

One of Gareth’s day jobs – and his creative outlet – is as a musician, so he recently picked up his guitar and had a go at writing his own Christmas song. “Within a few minutes I had this really catchy guitar riff that reminded me of Slade’s "Merry Christmas Everyone" he says. 

He’s hoping his family will enjoy the result, Time of Cheer, and encourages others to create their own Kiwi Christmas song too!