I took off early for Christmas. These days I have few pressing responsibilities and I took the opportunity. It may not last.
I am up to kite Mark V and it's flying superbly. I tell everyone I am making the kite for the girls but get carried away with design. The girls scream with delight at Turangi Park when Black Delta soars overhead. They love it but not as much as I do.
We play in the surf and build sandcastles.
Mt Maunganui is beautiful and has never looked better. It's hard to believe our worst marine environmental disaster took place just off the coast here two years ago. Politicians in suits rushed to the scene to wave shovels for TV.
I wondered if it looks good just on the surface while the marine ecosystem beneath is still hurting. But no, a quick Google turns up the University of Waikato's comprehensive monitoring report saying Rena has had little long-lasting environmental effect.
The clean-up crews and nature have done a remarkable job. Forest and Bird reports an increase in numbers of the threatened New Zealand dotterel after the Rena disaster. The Bay of Plenty Shorebird Programme has been a spectacular success and the staff and volunteers are to be commended.
We are lucky, aren't we? So many people do so much. Thank you.
We make it to Mum's. It's hard. It's a year since Dad died and I miss him as much as ever. There's not a day passes that I don't think of him. I wish he was still alive. It's entirely selfish. I have always had Dad.
I am here to comfort Mum. The truth is she's comforting me.
We are stuck in Auckland traffic. I swear and curse under my breath. Auckland went through a radical restructure to bring focused leadership to bear on its desperate need for infrastructure.
And now the political leadership is entirely consumed by the mayor's past love interest.
I hope the Christmas break provides the mayor with a much-needed opportunity to reflect on what's best, not for him, but for Auckland and for his family.
Grace cries on Santa's knee. Liberty is awestruck. She whispers that she's leaving out a glass of milk and a banana. There's a flash and the moment of a little girl on Santa's knee is caught for all time.
The presents have all been opened, the crackers pulled, and the ham and turkey have had a good going over. It's a magic time.
But politics becomes our Christmas. We get to vote for what we want. And to make someone else pay. This Christmas John Key slipped $125 million into movie maker James Cameron's Santa sack. That was nice. And next year we get to decide who we want to be Santa: John Key again or David Cunliffe. Lots of goodies will be on offer. But it's not elves doing the work. It's taxpayers working and sweating to pay for it all.
So thank you, too.