I Didn't Always Love You Like This

Saturday, August 30, 2014
For a Christmas project this year, I am making a little book for my family. It's an idea I've had tucked away for a few years, but I decided this was the year to do it. It's a compilation of family and recipes and memories and the very great blessing of being born a New Zealander.

I love being a kiwi. Having travelled to many countries when I was single and younger, and having seen many cultures and the way many people live - both rich and poor,  I know that what we have here is special.

It's hard to put it into words, because the feeling runs deep - but it's in the isolation of our islands, it's in the Pacific. It's in the rich history and the sparsity of people. It's the green and it's the blue and it's the unique culture. It's the kiwi way.
All-embracing. Trusting. Hospitable. Quirky. Rugged. Raw. Real.

I was searching online for a quote that aptly described how I feel about my country to put into my little Christmas book, but I couldn't find one. And a little thought said to me that maybe I should just write my own. It doesn't have to be brilliant - it is after all just for family, and they're hopefully going to forgive any over-sentimentality.

So I gave it a go, and this is what I wrote....

But I didn't always love New Zealand like this. I didn't appreciate it until I grew up. And not just growing up physically, but growing up in myself.

When I lived in America I hardly ever thought about it. I was having such a good time over there and enjoying all the differences and tastes of living in America, that it made New Zealand seem homely and unsophisticated, and I was not loyal to these little islands at the end of the Earth.

I had to return suddenly, and against my will, and I resented it. I would turn my nose up at the differences. That Christmas was green. That our aesthetics weren't finely tuned. That our lives were informal - that we are informal with each other. That nobody knew what a baby shower was (seriously back in 1993 it was rare).  That I couldn't buy A&W's Root Beer. Little differences that grated on me because I looked down my nose at small, homely New Zealand.

And then New Zealand worked on my heart. It has a way of getting under your skin, this place.

I will never forget an interview on September 11, 2001, when two kiwis, on the ravaged streets of New York said into the camera, "we just want to come home to New Zealand where it's boring. Boring is good."

It is my hope that New Zealand will always maintain this innocence. That it will be a haven from the rest of the world. A safe place. I have friends who have immigrated here from South Africa and the middle east, and they tell me that New Zealand has made them feel rested and safe and hopeful after the uncertainty of turmoil.

But more than that, it's just New Zealand. It just is. It's my home. My country. My native heath.

For me, New Zealand has become my safe place. I love it now without reserve.

New Zealand is enough for me.


Mother of Pearl said...

That's lovely Rachel - a song of joy and contentment in loving home.

A Little Blue Dragonfly said...

This is so very beautiful. Of all the places I have traveled to, New Zealand is my favorite. You are right...what you have there is special! :)

Elizabeth Collins said...

I LOVE this place, and I am grateful that I have that depth of love without having to have been away from it's shores... we want to travel, and to expose the kids to different countries and cultures; but NZ will always be home, and always hold my heart!

Heather LeFebvre said...

Can't wait to hear more about your house because I am always wondering how it is going. :)

Love your sentiments about New Zealand. I do struggle at times to be content in America because of some of those reasons you mentioned -- one misses the small and interesting bits. But everyone has to learn to be content with where they are it seems.

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