Mark Tanner - Adventurer, Writer and Amateur Beatboxer



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A Wintry Christmas Buildup

16 December 1998


It won't be the traditional kiwi Christmas for me this year - no sitting around the barbecue in the sun being serenaded by the whiz of the blender delicately whipping cream for the pavalova that follows. It looks like it could be a white Christmas, complete with a big roast turkey with cranberry sauce and maybe a few carols around the fire-place, just like your typical cheesy American movie.


Vancouver is buzzing with Christmas. Robson Street, the 'Lambton Quay' of Vancouver, is already busy with people trying to beat the last minute pressie rush. The shops have been covered with Christmas decor, which is complimented by the festive tunes ringing from their tweeters. The city's buildings, houses and trees have been lit up with thousands of colourful lights, twinkling in their reflection of the wet pavement below. Even the beggars are in full swing for the advent month, hoping to catch a small portion of the prosperous Christmas consumer market by covering their scruffy locks with bright red Santa hats, ringing bells habitually and joyfully wishing passers by a "Merry Christmas". Just to top off this festive atmosphere is the sweet aroma of warm eggnog, which wafts its way out onto the street from the many bustling coffee shops.


We are all settled into our cosy little flat at Kits Beach for Christmas. I am absolutely loving the neighbourhood. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, and most of the locals seem to be in the 20-30 year old range. The area is a very pretty part of town with the city's harbour, skyline and mountains providing a backdrop to the parks and beaches. It is good and close to the city, so I have been walking and running to work, and haven't touched my shiny blue bike since the big move.


December has been a very busy month, with moving into the new place, and with all of the Christmas functions that seem to be on the go. I seem to meeting a fair few people and more importantly, have been stuffing my face with heaps of Christmas tuka. Work is getting festive for the Christmas season. There are the typical decorations in the reception, in which the tree now houses shelter for the small pile of presents, forming as part of the annual 'Secret Santa' in which everyone gives a mystery person to buy a present for.


I have my own little Christmas tree, proudly sitting about a foot high on my desk, complete with an angel, tinsel, lights and candy canes. My stuffed kiwi now has his own little Santa hat. Also, like everyone else in the office, I have been receiving a steady supply of nutrients from my advent calendar, which provides a new piece of chocolate every morning. This Thursday is Net Nanny's 'open-house' Christmas function, followed on Friday by the staff equivalent. So work this week has been fairly unproductive with the bosses out of the office, and an abundant supply of homemade cookies, and people gearing up for the Christmas holidays.


My holiday starts on Christmas Eve when I am joined by my flatmates Tipu and James for our ANV (American National Vacation). We are going to venture down to see my uni-balled buddy Schiller, to experience a 'real American Christmas'. Mark Schiller's mother Jerri takes Xmas pretty seriously, and apparently she has spent the last month decorating her suburban American home. The lounge has been cleared out, and is now the foundation for a miniature Christmas village. The decorations should be nice, but my paramount reason for the stop off is the huge feed that is guaranteed for anyone who stops of at Jerri Beeman's house in Vancouver, Washington. My mouth waters just thinking about it.


Upon leaving the Christmas exhibition house, we plan to travel down the Oregon Coast line, which is meant to be a very beautiful stretch of highway. Our next port of call is San Francisco, home of the hippies, Homo's and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. We hope to explore a bit of the famous city and it's surrounding California Coast, before making way to the city of lights, Las Vegas, for New Years.








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