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Bringing it all together

I am giving serious consideration to the idea of proposing immediate Christmas coalition talks with my family.

We have all arrived at that time of year when the often delicate and regularly fractious negotiations regarding timing and location start to unfold around the country. Thus, it may be worth a crack trying to bring different branches of the family tree together now and see if we can agree on who goes where, when and why on earth do we even bother talking about it.

I have a high-profile template going on right now in Auckland [and sometimes Wellington] to draw on should I need any helpful examples of how to organise and run such talks.

Judging by the current rate of progress [or the lack of it] putting together a shiny new government, I had best get started as soon as possible, lest we go past December 25 altogether without any firm understanding in place.

First up – where. This can be the most challenging aspect of Christmas consultations. History plays an important part in deciding this category. Whoever held it last year, or in the most recent previous years, definitely won’t be holding it again this year, which ultimately starts a process of elimination that invariably leads to an uncomfortable Mexican standoff with the last two family members standing, both of whom are desperately trying not to blink.

At the other end of the spectrum are those family members who demand that Christmas be held at their place. The decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. They take considerable pride in being the host with the most festive fare and flatly refuse to discuss the prospect of going to someone else’s place. Besides, they have had Christmas dinner at their place for 14 consecutive years, so they are not about to break their run now.

These people are among the first to put up a tree and Christmas lights.

Enter the “shared day” option into the mix. This is a default position used most often by new families who go to one side of the family in the morning and to the other side of the family in the evening. You can pick these people out on Boxing Day as they waddle about the neighbourhood looking uncomfortably overfed.

If where can be sorted, there’s still the prickly subject of who sits where at the table. Interestingly, this particular issue is still up for debate at the ongoing political talks.

And, in another parallel to what we hope will be a satisfactory end result at the Beehive, some hopefuls might not get an invitation to the table this time round and will have to make other arrangements. Well, for the time being, at least.

A Christmas coalition will have to cover presents and who gets them. The young ones are an obvious starter, as are the very old ones. The ones in between are not so clear-cut. A bottle of plonk and some chocolates will just about do the trick, in which case some of the luckier ones will have more than a few bottles of plonk and enough scorched almonds to get through to Waitangi Day. Done.

Enough talking, it’s time to get on with the job.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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