Christmas still merry despite distance gap

AMANDA PARKINSON AND NATASHA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013
Garry Turner
NEXT BEST THING: Australian residents Garry Turner and Heather Crawford opened their Christmas Day presents in the company of Invercargill’s Natasha Turner, bottom left, and Amanda Parkinson, bottom right, via Skype.

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We'll be home for Christmas, well, virtually at least.

Five months ago our lives were uprooted from Sydney to Invercargill after I took a job with The Southland Times.

Christmas traditions in both Tash and my families were fierce, so in our large old-style villa, 2000 kilometres from family, the festive season was going to be slightly harder to celebrate.

It was with these challenges in mind our families decided to embark on a virtual Christmas via Skype.

Presents were posted weeks in advance to fill the base of our New Zealand and Australian Christmas trees - the temptation to open them when they landed on our doorstep was hard to resist.

Online shopping was the preferred method of choice, in part due to the lure of free shipping, with the final gift being sent via email on Christmas morning.

The two-hour time difference did not seem much, but as we waited patiently for the 9.30am call, our impatience grew, only slightly tamed by the glass of bubbles in hand and some preliminary present opening.

The text came through as the final pancake was moments from its first flip.

Heather and Garry, Tash's dad and step-mother were full of cheer, but struggling after an evening out by the harbour and a sleepless night of people and traffic roaming in Sydney's south.

Tash and I swapped gifts they had sent us, while we emailed them their gift using the file share function on Skype. The joy of technology meant our traditions remained steadfast - and it was the pure joy of seeing family that made our Christmas so merry.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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