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Family

Barbara Kendall's Christmas letter to her mum

''Apart from creating the most amazing Christmas,'' writes the Five-time Olympic windsurfing medallist, "one of the most valuable things that you did was sit and listen.''

Christmas doesn't have to be all about eating, drinking and opening presents. For many, it's a time to take stock and remember the important people in their lives – and in particular their mums.
Because when it comes to the festive season, it's often our darling mothers who make the whole thing special for families all over New Zealand.
We asked five well-known Kiwis to remember their mums this Christmas by writing them a love letter...
Here, Olympic gold medallist Barbara Kendall writes to her mum Peggy.
Our future Olympian (centre) with her mum Peggy and siblings Bruce and Wendy.
Dear Mum,
One of the most magical moments of Christmas was when you and Dad would always beat the Christmas rush and bundle us three kids into our 32ft yacht and we would sail away. I was always amazed that on Christmas Day, there beside our bunks was a stocking filled with gifts.
I couldn't understand how Santa found us in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't wait to wake up to see what was in our stockings.
When I became a mother, I wondered how you always hid those stockings and how you managed to wake up in the middle of the night and do that. Doing it myself, I realised how tiring it is!
I continued the stocking tradition with our kids at Christmas at the caravan, so it was a little bit easier for Santa to find than some boat randomly moored in some bay miles away from anywhere. You always told me that Santa would spot our mast light and come down the mast, and I never questioned it.
Barbara competing on the water in 2004.
You will turn 80 next year and you still go away in that same yacht Dad built in 1975, still before the Christmas rush, and you don't come back for three months.
So we have never had Christmas with you on the day, but we always have an early celebration so that we can all get away on holiday. As a family, we really value holidays.
Apart from creating the most amazing Christmas, Mum, one of the most valuable things that you did was sit and listen. You are an amazing listener and you never judge or give strong opinions.
When I started travelling, I would come home and if things weren't going so well on the professional circuit, you would take the day off work because you would sense that I needed to go " blaaah". I would snuggle in, you would stroke my forehead and out would come the woes of the world. I would always feel safe, really loved and connected.
That is something I have been able to use with my girls. I'm not as good at it as you because I'm such a maniac, but the way we do it is they say, "Mum, can you lie with me?" Then we'll take the time when they need it.
There's no way I can get my youngest to talk about anything unless she's lying down and doing nothing. My oldest one is better at doing it in the kitchen or while driving to sporting events.
If I was going to give any advice to any parents it is this gift you gave me, to spend time hearing what your children have to say with no judgements so they can feel safe and they can say anything. It's been so valuable.
Thanks, Mum.
Barbs

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