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Hayley Holt’s Christmas blessings

Despite another setback, the beloved TV star explains why she's still got a lot to be happy about

The thing about going through the hard stuff is that it makes you stop and take stock of your life – it gives you greater clarity to see what’s really important,” says Hayley Holt as she joins Woman’s Day for a celebratory Christmas catch-up.

It’s been a long year for the beloved broadcaster. Not only did she endure several months of separation from her close-knit family thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, but also a heartbreaking miscarriage, which followed the loss of her baby son Frankie Tai a year earlier.

But as she reflects on the roller coaster of 2021, Hayley tells us that regardless of the challenges, she’s found a deeper level of contentment. “It dawned on me recently that despite all this, I’m actually happier than I’ve ever been. I have so much joy and laughter in my life. I have my beautiful partner, a job I love, an amazing family… Th ere’s just so much to be grateful for.”

And this Christmas, the 41-year-old TVNZ sports presenter will make sure she takes the time to reflect as she relaxes into a well-earned break.

On December 25, she and her beau Josh Tito will join her parents Robin and Murray at the Holt family home just down the road from their own Warkworth house. Excitingly, Hayley’s brother Logan, who lives in Mangawhai, will finally be able to cross the Auckland border and be reunited with family after four long months apart.

“It’s been so bizarre knowing he’s just up the road but there’s been no way of seeing him in the lockdown,” says the former Breakfast host and Dancing With The Stars NZ dancer. “We can’t wait to all be together again – that’s all that matters this Christmas.”

While she insists it’ll be a “quiet and low-key” celebration, there’s nothing modest about the menu, thanks to Robin, whose festive table centrepiece has become something of a tradition. Hayley laughs as she tells us about her mum’s “delicious monstrosity”.

“It’s a turducken – a turkey stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed with a chicken. We have that with cranberry sauce and everyone brings a plate, like a potato bake, salads and desserts. We basically spend the entire day eating and talking.”

This year, rather than spending huge sums on gifts people might not want, her family have opted for a Secret Santa, where everyone picks a name out of a hat and is given a budget of $100.

“That way, we’re buying one decent gift for someone, instead of endless junk for people who really don’t need more stuff ,” she explains. “Although my dad did ask what I’d like and I may have mentioned a weed eater…”

Hayley will be making sure she chooses something lovely for Josh, her 31-year-old partner who she met back in 2019. It was a whirlwind romance, but the experience of losing Frankie and embarking on a healing journey together has been incredibly bonding.

While she is the first to admit she can overanalyse things and take life a little too seriously sometimes, Josh’s light-hearted approach is the perfect antidote.

“He is such a unique person, and we’re finding we like each other more and more,” smiles Hayley. “He brings a lightness to life, which is so helpful for someone like me. I’m always overthinking things and he’s like, ‘Hey, come back to Earth!'”

A miscarriage earlier this year was “horrible”, but Hayley says that with the support of family, they’ve managed to pick themselves up and carry on. In some ways, the setback helped Hayley put a line between her grief for Frankie and the present.

“It’s hard to explain, but it sort of shocked me into separating my feelings away from Frankie. It was realising that life might not be all great, but it has to go on and you have to accept the challenges. There’s no other option.”

While Hayley would love nothing more than to realise her dream of motherhood in 2022, she is trying not to put too much pressure on herself. A deep spirituality has been an enormous help when it comes to finding acceptance.

“I am trying to let go and trust in the universe,” she shares. “Buying the house and settling into a life together has been very helpful for that. It’s a lovely feeling to be so settled.”

After a huge year both at home and work, she and Josh are both counting down to the holidays. They’re hoping to make it to Taupō to see Josh’s whānau, but other than that, Hayley confesses she’s made no plans at all.

“That, for me, is a holiday. I love waking up in the morning and having the entire day stretched out in front of us to do what we like. All I know is that we’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach.”

And the luxury of not having to even get out of her PJs isn’t lost on her. “That’s just it! We’ll have three blissful weeks to simply be together – nowhere to go and no work to think about. That’s the best

Christmas present I could wish for.”

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