As emigrants we had spent eight happy years in New Zealand. We had prospered and our family had grown. Besides the two small daughters we had brought with us, we now had a son and an awful feeling was now occupying our thoughts. Homesickness.
We decided to go back to England so we sold up and returned to a warm welcome from all our family and friends, bought a house in the Midland town of Loughborough and began to settle down again and of course Christmas was on its way.
A white Christmas? The children had been questioning us for weeks prior to the great day. No, we said, a white Christmas day is very rare in this part of England - Scotland maybe, but not down here.
Now Loughborough was not a pretty place but it did have a very nice town square with lovely old fashioned shops and a market. And now it had a supermarket. A Tescos - the first one we had ever seen. So on Christmas Eve we parked the car outside Tescos, which you could do in those days, and shopped and shopped. All the lovely Christmas goodies. Piles and piles of things in their beautiful wrappings. I can remember we filled the boot of our oldish Hillman Minx for eight pounds ten. It was late afternoon and becoming very cold, dark and dusky. We were getting ready to drive home when, and I distinctly remember this, our eldest daughter saying: "What’s that?" And of course it was snowing. Beautiful snowflakes drifting down.
It snowed for the remainder of the evening watched by three very excited children and two warm and happy parents.
We woke on Christmas morning to at least eight centimetres of crisp pure white snow. Our respective parents drove up the M25 to spend the day with us and at lunchtime we all walked through the snow to our local pub - yes they did open Christmas day. The place was absolutely packed and our drinks orders were passed back to us overhead and we simply sat outside and supped. On Boxing Day, we found our Council had been out all night clearing the roads, so we drove to the nearby village of Quorn to see the Quorn hunt. Huge horses stomping around with the huntsmen and women astride in their red coats, the full fig, sipping tots of rum. The huntsmen not the horses.
After three years or so we had a sort of reverse homesickness and returned to New Zealand to stay. To Christmas on the beach? in Wellington? Maybe. As about as rare as a White Christmas in England, but then, miracles do happen.