Next Christmas Hey, I'm sleeping on it

By Terry Sarten

Government departments and corporate entities are empty, staff taking damp tenting holidays and barbecuing perfectly good food until it is charred. They will return sunburned and unbowed.HOW many sleeps until next Christmas? Only 361. Don't tell the children. They will get excited and start leaving messages for Santa on Twitter.

Mind you, by the time next Christmas comes around the Twitterati will have pushed the possibilities of insulting/boring people in less than 24 characters to the limit and moved on to something else.

The speed with which fads and gimmicks revolve through the trend cycle is now so fast that hitting the point of fashion is almost impossible. That may be why retro is making such a strong comeback. The sale of vinyl records - the round, black things with a hole in the middle that have music on both sides - is on the up.

It is easier to bring something back when we know what it looked like originally. Vinyl albums have sleeve notes in a print size you can actually read so perhaps this is nostalgia with benefits?

Time has many elements. Looking ahead to 2013 it may be helpful to break these down to the various components. Every minute has 60 seconds - exactly the amount of time needed to decide whether you want a long black or a flat white and which one of you is paying for it.

An hour has 60 minutes. The length of an hour has not changed but each one of these minutes will seem incredibly long if you are a parent waiting for a teenager to get home late at night or attempting to get a crying baby to settle.

It was only a few generations ago when the notion of a day was bookmarked by the arrival and departure of the sun on the horizon. Electricity changed all that, creating a 24-hour cycle of activity, with sleep added as a bonus rather than a necessity. Now, thanks to technology we can be on the internet, connecting on Facebook, shooting characters in an online game or emailing a column to the newspaper in the middle of the night, all year.

The months and seasons seem to have slipped out of their usual well-worn costumes. Summer has bits of sun, layers of winter, with hints of spring and autumn to keep us guessing.

Finding an official or someone to fix a problem in January is the New Zealand equivalent of looking for the Higgs boson in a black hole. Nobody is there.

Government departments and corporate entities are empty, with staff taking damp tenting holidays and barbecuing perfectly good food until it is charred. They will return sunburned and unbowed by such disasters, happy to share their holiday snaps with colleagues, and more than willing to do it all again next year.

In the 361 sleeps left till Christmas, we can plan, scheme, plot and connive to make 2013 a year to remember, while wearing the iridescent coloured bed-socks we got from Mother and pondering the mysteries of the thingy-whatsit given to us by dear Aunty and Uncle.

This year my column will not be touting any predictions for 2013, nor present lists of the 10 best/worst things. I will not be forging any New Year resolutions at midnight but I will be thinking of the many Whanganui people who in the past year have made a difference and will continue to make it a better place. (We know who you are.)

Terry Sarten is a parent, writer, musician and social worker. Feedback email:

- Wanganui Chronicle

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