Searching for the meaning of Xmas - Tron style

Reckon we'd given Buddy a run for his money

PAUL BARLOW
Last updated 14:25 23/12/2013
	 Garden place
FAIRFAX NZ

CHRISTMAS CHEER: Not a cotton-headed ninny muggins among this lot in Garden Place.

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OPINION: I haven't told anyone this yet but this year I've been trying to redefine what the meaning of Christmas is for me.  It's my first Christmas since my wife and I separated, my kids are getting older now breaking the verisimilitude of the fat man in red, and I've worked in retail for so long I've become slightly jaded at the whole grand event.

But I was bought up loving the holiday season - and after my year of change it was important to me to find my new yuletide equilibrium.

It just happened to be a very convenient coincidence that I live in Hamilton: Christmas City because it gave me an unprecedented chance to experience a range of holiday activities.

If anything came of it, it's that I can see now exactly how well the moniker of Christmas City fits.  There are some amazing traditional undertakings, like light displays - and while Harrowfield and Templeview were stunning as usual, Baverstock was my favourite. There a teenager created lights synched with music.  Hell, I still have trouble recording on my Freeview decoder so god knows how much work went into this display.

There are some uniquely Hamilton festivities as well. I finally checked out Trees at the Meteor, an event I've been wanting to go to for ages.  The hard work and passion behind those trees created for a great cause was stunning.  While my personal favourite didn't win people's choice, the amount of effort and wonder in those trees were stunning.  The look on people's faces as they watched a 3D printer make trees, played with musical toys and wind machines was awe inspiring and the face on any child that walks around a corner into a holiday themed Dalek is worth the price of admission.

I even went to Garden Place on multiple occasions to see the largest tree in New Zealand. I've attended Christmas Parties and work shouts.  I've shopped all over the city - and been in the CBD far more recently than I have in the previous 12 months.  I've watched holiday specials (My favourite is still locally made Missing Christmas - because it lets us celebrate a real kiwi Christmas), wrapped presents and trimmed trees - and I still don't think it helped much.

But this year I tried two very different things I haven't tried before.

First I tried to make my own web series Christmas special.  The support locally for it was great but unravelling actor's schedules this time of year was like unravelling Christmas lights so it's something that will need to be finished when the show finishes shooting next year.

The other stunt I undertook was an act of guerrilla Christmas cheer.  With the help of the Hamilton Brass Band we organised for the group to visit The Base on Thursday night and play live. 

They pulled up on their truck, decked in Santa hats, and played a few different holiday tunes in a few different locations around the mall.  From the outside of the complex the tunes carried and the smiles on shoppers faces were immediate.  People stopped and watched and listened and it was a wonderful way to break up the stressful Christmas shopping.  I need to thank The Hamilton Brass Band for agreeing to it - and for being so enthusiastic about it as well.

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But after all this, after traditional and unconventional attempts to find the meaning of Christmas, after a lack of visits from ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future I wasn't sure if I had been able to realign my meaning of Christmas. 

It wasn't until I was chatting with Olympic Silver Medallist Sarah Walker and I asked what she was doing for the holidays that it clicked.  "Training" she said.  She was quick to point out that next year is the start of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics and she loves her sport so while training sounds weird, she's spending Christmas doing something she's passionate about.

And surely that's what it's all about - having a day to appreciate what you love in life.  For everyone that's going to be different but at the crux of it I reckon that's what it boils down to - having a moment to enjoy life and those that make up the world around you.

- Waikato

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