Whether you're a Christian or not, the national celebration of Christmas has a certain gravity to it that demands attention and invokes reflection - on life, on family, on the year past.

True, the frenetic madness of preparation leaves many too frazzled or too commercially jaded to look forward to the festivities, but the day manages to provide a time to ponder more meaningful subjects, even if a full-bellied sated doze is not conducive to musing.

This is as it should be, for while here it also marks summer solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere it is mid-winter, traditionally the time to reflect on the year gone and the new one about to begin.

For my family, this Christmas marks the end of a 10-year sentence; the completion of the reason we came to Hawke's Bay, which was to bring our son to Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, from which he has just graduated.


As others who have made such decisions will know, uprooting ourselves to come to a place where we knew few people and little about life here was unsettling, to say the least, but for our son's sake it was a change we felt had to be made.

Fortunately it has proved a great success, for our boy has gone from a muddled and disjointed start to his education, compounded by mild dyslexia, to achieving university entrance; a result we are certain wouldn't have been achieved within the "normal" state system.

I'm not implying state education is inferior; rather that every child is different, and ours needed the holistic blend the Steiner methodology offers; of teaching mind, body, and spirit in balance, in order to prosper.

So, we can tick that one off, and would now, according to the original plan, be looking to sell up and head back to our island paradise of Waiheke, there to ease into a child-free retirement.

But plans change, accidents happen.

Our son needs surgery to his knee from a soccer injury, so will be spending an enforced gap year recuperating, necessarily at our expense. We've sold the house on the island, so have no easy route of return.

In short, we're stuck here. And we still need to work. So, dear reader, just when you might have thought you'd read the last of these, you'll have to put up with me (editor willing) for the foreseeable future.

Funny thing is, in a lot of ways I don't mind. There are far worse places to get stuck, and despite the disparaging things I might say about it from time to time, the Bay has a pleasantly charming appeal.

It could, with the right guidance and without selling itself short or compromising quality, become a much more popular province.

Besides, it needs oddballs like me, although there are quite a few good folk out there working hard in similar vein, to throw stones when required, and jolly along when possible, and otherwise stir up the views behind the news to keep citizens well informed.

Bottom line: I don't ask people to agree with me; I do ask them to think.

Just as many of the graduates from high school will continue on to higher education, so we older ones, too, should never stop listening and learning. Or be afraid to express an opinion.

As for this piece, I'll beg your indulgence for it being more personal than usual. But then, it is Christmas, after all.

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.