To say it's been a year to remember for actress Antonia Prebble is something of an understatement.
From dealing with the aftermath of a devastating fire at the new home she and husband Dan Musgrove had just bought, through to welcoming their first child, there certainly hasn't been a dull moment for the Westside star.
"You know when you feel like you're juuuuuuust on top of things? It's a lot of that at the moment – we're only just treading water!" she says with a laugh.
"It's definitely one of those times where if one thing changes, everything else is going to come crumbling down. The 'being a mum' part is actually fine, it's straightforward, but it's all the other elements that are going on at the moment that's making it all a bit challenging. We're keeping our heads above water, but we're definitely looking forward to Christmas!"
Welcoming baby Freddie in July this year, Antonia says that she and Dan, who also stars in Westside as Lefty Munroe, are still smitten with their firstborn, and at the thought of their first festive season as a trio!
"Oh, it's been so awesome," she says of her wee one.
"We're really excited for our first Christmas with him. Dan and I take it in turns spending Christmas with our families, and this year it's my family's turn, so we'll be heading down to Wellington. It'll be so, so special − I'm really looking forward to it.
"We haven't got him a Christmas-themed onesie yet – oh, and then you have to get the matching family pyjamas, right? That's the next step! When things calm down a bit, Freddie better look out, he'll be looking like a reindeer!"
While Antonia's looking forward to spending time with her whanau and celebrating the silly season as a mum, she knows that other families may not be so lucky, and admits her role as an ambassador for Variety − The Children's Charity has her feeling a tinge of heartbreak.
"Everything just comes into such a higher focus since I've had Freddie," she says.
"I'm so grateful for the privileges I have, and that we're able to afford a special Christmas dinner. It makes me upset to think about families that can't have that."
Antonia sponsors a child, and gives a little extra so her child and their family can have a nice meal and a few presents.
But one-off donations through Variety's Christmas Appeal are also hugely welcomed to enable Kiwi kids to have the Christmas they all deserve.
"It's just being able to give a little bit of magic, a little bit of something special," she nods.
"Something to separate the day out from the rest of the year – I think everyone should be able to share a special meal with their families, and slow down and appreciate family time."
It's definitely something the 35-year-old will be doing herself as she gears up for another huge year in 2020, when she'll film the sixth and final season of Westside.
It'll be the end of a huge chapter in her life as she says goodbye to West family matriarch Rita.
"And also, say goodbye to the entire West family!" exclaims Antonia, who played Rita's granddaughter Loretta in the series' forerunner Outrageous Fortune.
"We started this in 2005, so it's a huge hunk of my life that will be over. It's given me so much and so many things wouldn't have happened if I hadn't done it – it kick-started my career, it's the reason I moved to Auckland, I met my husband, and of course, most significantly, I wouldn't have Freddie!"
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