Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'll be home for Christmas...

One of my favourite Christmas songs is 'I'll be home for Christmas' by Bing Crosby. Perhaps it's because the lyrics are 'I'll be home for Christmas.. if only in my dreams'. It's been on repeat lately.



I always spent Christmas in Melbourne. To me - Melbourne is Christmas, because family is Christmas, and family is in Melbourne... Before I moved to the US, I had spent only 1 Christmas away from my family, it was horrible. So I vowed I would never spend another Christmas away from them. Obviously I only got to keep that vow for a few more years. I wouldn't change a thing - I love KC and our life here. Being an expat is hard (anyone got a violin?) but it's normally so worth it. It's always harder around the holidays though.

So for right now, let's humour me. Let's pretend I'm back home and I am spending Christmas with my family. This is most of them below.



If I was still in Australia, Mum and I would take a week or two off work  and we'd make the 10 hour or so drive to Melbourne, where my Nana lives.  We have been doing this all my life, as far as I can remember. Somewhere along the line, the boys stopped coming but Mum and I continued..



We finally arrive at Nana's - did she get shorter? She asks how the drive was, are you hungry? Do you want to see so and so? They want to see you. Kristen, will you get this down? Will you put this away? You left this here last time. Are you going to take a shower? Make sure you dry the floor. Yes Nana, I say. Of course, Nana. Love you Nana.


Time flies in a flurry of Christmas activities and family. We see everyone bit by bit and then all together. Sometimes its four people over, sometimes just one, other times it's the whole family. My aunties and uncles have big houses but for some reason we always have a big fish and chips get together at my Nan's teeny tiny 2 bedroom unit. It's small and squishy and oh so loud and I just sit there and take it all in, because I've missed this. My cousins and I sit on the floor while the 'adults' sit on the couches. We put the actual children in our laps and watch carols in the domain, just like every year. Afterwards, we get out old photos and slides - we weren't there but it's fun to see our parents be children again.

Most days, mum comes in and wakes me, come on lets go shopping. Nana hates shopping, so we drop her off at the pokies. Mum and I meander around the vinnies and salvos, sometimes finding nothing and other times hitting the jackpot. I nearly always find a book. We stop and get some potato cakes and dim sims. Mum drops me off at the library and goes to pick Nan up.

Every night, Mum cooks dinner and Nana turns the TV on so we can watch the news while we eat.. I consider not finishing what's on my plate but I know my Nana won't allow it. Nothing gets wasted here. Afterwards, we sit in the living room and watch more news. Nana reads her paper, Mum reads a magazine and I read a book. A family of readers, we are.


The next morning is Christmas. I'm older, yes, but I'm a kid in Melbourne. As soon as I know they are both awake I jump out of bed yelling 'Happy Christmas!' and I wait not so patiently for them to be ready to open presents. I am the present hander outer and I say 'Happy Christmas Mum/Nana' with each present. I say thank you for the pajamas and the books and the Disney stuff. I'm still a child to them, and where it used to annoy me, now I love it. After we've unwrapped the presents, I fold up all the wrapping paper because my Nana recycles it.

Finally, it's time to go to my Aunty & Uncle J's. They are the Italians of the family and Christmas day has always been at their place. Lots of food, laughter and more food.. We stuff ourselves silly, I have a few drinks now and we pop our crackers and wear our silly hats.

bad picture, but the hat.
We eat some more food, open presents, take silly photos and talk the day away. It's late now, time to go home. Lots of hugs and kisses, promises to visit more often, we take leftovers and bags of presents, tears are shed. We wave goodbye, with a beep of the horn or two. The 3 of us are silent on the way home, broken only by my Nana's occasional hum-singing.


At home, we make some hot cuppas and sit around reading some more. What a lovely time I have in Melbourne. What a lovely family I have. I lean over to give them both hugs and kisses. Night Mum, I say. I lean over my Nana, trying not to breathe in the smoke and give her a kiss. She says 'See you in a porridge' quickly, trying to beat me. I let her. I say, 'aw shucks, you beat me. See you in a porridge, Nana. Love you'.

A couple of days later, it's time to head back to Sydney. We pack the car, Nana trying to convince us to take more food and asking again 'are you sure you didn't forget anything?'. Finally, we're ready. Mum starts sniffling. I start wiping my eyes. Nana calls us both dills, gives us a hug and a kiss that just feels like Nana. I hug her one more time before I get in the car. It's hard to let go. I'm not sure when I'll see her again, stupid ocean. I keep hugging, finally Mum beeps the horn. Nana pats me on the back, kisses me on the cheek and says "Stop crying you silly duffa. I'll see you in a porridge, won't I?'

I love my family. They are crazy and annoying and get under my skin like nobody else. They've caused me more grief and madness than any other person ever could. They are the worst of me. They are the best of me. I took them for granted. I didn't appreciate them. I miss them.


I'm not complaining. Truly. I just miss them. And this was therapeutic for me to get out. People always say to me they don't understand how I could live so far away from my family - that breaks my heart. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. To love someone from another country? To have to choose between the family you love, or the one you love? To have to choose between two families, two countries, heck two states? Pick a side? No matter what, somebody gets hurt. I don't relish the fact that I am away from my family. Of course I miss them, of course it's hard. So many people around the world have it worse than simply being an expat - at least I can talk to my family, others don't have that luxury.

I made this decision, and I live with it. More than that, I love my life, I wouldn't change anything. I am lucky to have found this guy I share my life with, that let me get 3 cats, that tries to make Christmas as good as it can be for someone like me. I am lucky to have my own little family.

That being said... the power to apparate across oceans would be greatly appreciated.


Now to throw this post in the complete opposite direction, I wanted to share my favourite song for 2014 and link up with Helene. I am zero percent ashamed to admit that it was Shake it Off. It could be because it's still fairly recent in my memory. I don't even remember what I did at the beginning of the year, let alone what song I liked. So there you go.


Where would you apparate to if you could?

61 comments:

  1. I love that angsty, not-smiling picture of you so much. Reminds me of myself when I was that age :) Well, let's be honest, I'm still pretty much an angsty teenager when I'm around my family. Old habits die hard.

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  2. "we weren't there but it's fun to see our parents be children again." That may be my favorite line in this whole post -- and it's a post full of great lines and wonderful memories. And now I've learned where "see you in a porridge" came from! This will be my first Christmas abroad. The only person in my family I've ever celebrated it with is my mom. I'd apparate to her house if I could. Instead, we'll Skype and turn on The Grinch who Stole Christmas at exactly the same moment so we can pretend we're watching it together, haha.

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    1. HOW the Grinch Stole Christmas. Wtf.

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  3. Oh sweet girl, I'm so sorry you are so far away from your family. I know this isn't NEARLY the same, but this is the first Christmas I'll be spending away from my family, since my husband and I split the holidays, and I'm sad. I mean, I'm happy to spend it with his family because they are amazing and wonderful and I adore them, but I'm so sad to miss out on all of my family traditions, too. So, I'm sending you a virtual hug, happy family memory vibes and LOVE this Christmas season. <3

    ps.com I only thought the British said Happy Christmas, I had no idea that was said in Australia, too. HAPPY EARLY CHRISTMAS!!!!! :)

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  4. Awe this was so sweet to read. Grandmas are the best, when mine passed away I cried for a year. They are just the sweetest. My family drives me crazy too... So so so crazy and they make me mad but you know what? I wouldn't trade them for the world. They are great and I would be so lost without them!

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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  5. I love this post.
    I have said numerous times that with the amount of technology we have now why is time travel not a thing? How has someone not figured out a way that we can "poof" ourselves somewhere else.
    Thinking of you this holiday season. I know that you love your life here and love KC and are so thankful for him and your life, but that still doesn't stop you from missing your family and the traditions that come along with them.

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  6. Aww girl! I know exactly how you feel. I haven't spend Christmas with my family in like 5 years and it sucks being away from them, especially during the holidays. When my mom was here last week that Bing Crosby song came on and we both started crying knowing it was another year we wouldn't be spending together. It's definitely hard but sometimes it's fun building your own Christmas traditions with your own little family :) Hope you have an amazing Christmas this year girl, you deserve it!

    <3, Pamela
    Sequins & Sea Breezes

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  7. Oh, gosh, what a sweet read. It was so fun to go down memory lane with you but I definitely feel for you and I'm so sorry for how much you miss your family right now. The holidays are HARD.

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  8. I love the way you wrote this post, seriously I don't even know your nana or your mom or your family, but I started welling up when you were describing getting ready to leave and head back to your home...I'm sorry that you aren't with them this Christmas but I know they will truly enjoy reading this post and how much you enjoy the time you do get to spend with them! xo, Biana

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  9. This sounds so hard. I'm sorry! I can't imagine Christmas without my family! It is such a special time. I am glad that otherwise you love your life here. I think it would be considerably worse if you also disliked it! My grandma moved to Arizona full-time recently, a 'snowbird' as they're called. She was the needle of our family. When she's not here I don't see the rest of my extended family and I hate it. We all live pretty close, so I am used to seeing almost everyone for every birthday and holiday. Now all we have is Christmas and the occasional summer gathering. I can only imagine having to go a full year or years without seeing them at all. I hope that you have a lovely Christmas with your KC. It seems like he does a good job of taking care of you and cheering you up this time of year. :) In other news, Shake it off is great. :) Want to enter my giveaway? Maybe you will win, that might cheer you up!? ;) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  10. Awww *hugs* I guess i'm pretty lucky cause I still have my Mum and brother here. But I understand. I really miss Christmas with my Nana and Poppy and going swimming in the pool Christmas day.

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  11. Beautiful post...and I agree with Biana, it made me get a little misty just reading it! It's also making me think about my two grandmas, and all the Christmas traditions we used to share :)

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  12. This is such a lovely post. It must be so hard this time of year being away from your family. I had my first Christmas away from home last year because we moved in December, but was lucky that we fit in most of our Christmas traditions before we left. This year we're meeting my family in Mexico and I'm so excited that I still get to see them even if it will be a little different than usual. We're still bringing the board games we play every Christmas!

    I laughed about your Nana saving the wrapping paper. My grandma is the same. We always laugh because she opens each of her gifts so slowly to make sure she doesn't tear any of the paper! Oh, and I love the Harry Potter gif. We finished the Deathly Hallows part one last night and are on to part two tonight!! Happy Holidays to you!!

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  13. This post has perfection written all over it. I love the way you brought us into your family and now we would know exactly what to expect. If I could apparate it would definitely be to miserable Omaha where it's hella cold but my sis is there. I'm so thankful she's only a plane ride away and able to make it down once a year. I can't imagine not seeing her. Love you girly!!

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  14. "They are the worst of me. They are the best of me." I love this. I dont personally know how you feel but I know this and every christmas from now on will not be the same because I lot a sister and memories of traditions are hard. I also know how my other sister feels being far away. So hugs pretty girl!

    On a happier note .. love that song and she is on everyone's list. T swifty just roped us all in!

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  15. This was amazing! I know you must miss being home, especially for the holidays, but it's so neat that you have all of these wonderful memories! I don't envy you being so far from your family but you are lucky to have so many great things to reminisce about, and to be able to make new memories with your new family :)

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  16. I totally teared up reading this. My heart is squeezing mimicking your missing your family. Much love to you. I really loved reading about your Christmases past.

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  17. "they are the worst of me. they are the best of me." that hits home for me too.

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  18. I love this post and it's so beautifully written. I'm so sorry you have to be away from your family during the holidays. That is the hardest. I hope you have a great Christmas this year with your new little family.

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  19. Awe, I got all teary eyed reading this because I am so lucky that my immediate family all ended up in the same state as me....or I the same state as them since I was the last to arrive. I remember how hard it was to only see my grandma a few times a year when we lived 14 hours away from her....but at least we were in the same country and it was drivable. I admire your decision and it is a brave one! Sending you lots of hugs and hopes for a happy Christmas so far away!

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  20. I loved spending Christmas with you just now. Traditions are the best but you'll be making new ones now too. I'm sure they miss you just as much as you miss them!

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  21. You make me feel so lucky that my parents live 5 miles from me...
    That's gotta be hard not celebrating like you used to - but life changes - & new adventures happen with that.
    I loved seeing your Aussie Christmas... & do you all really say Happy Christmas? I want that to become a US thing.. ever since I saw it in Harry Potter :)

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  22. Aw you'll love looking at this and reading it as it gets closer to Christmases you won't be in Melbourne. Funny (in a life is crazy) sort of way how different holidays become as we get older. I know I'll cry this year (like I did the first year we were married) when we go to my in-laws house and not my parents', but I won't be a brat because I'll get to see them next weekend. You deserve to have a brat day if you want because you're quite a bit further and we all need to get it out of our system ;)

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  23. Aw!!! That would be so hard being away from family during Christmas!! Fortunately for me family isn't far, but I don't know if I could handle them being far, yet alone in a different country! At least you have a fabulous husband and in laws to make you feel like family! Oh and I am the BIGGEST child on Christmas! My mom started putting out presents under the tree after she wrapped them and I yelled at her because Santa hadbt come yet and she needs to put them back in her closet haha! So she only puts them out when I am still asleep now! Ha! Love her!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

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  24. Awwwww girl this post seriously made me well up! Our families do drive us nuts but they are OUR families and nothing compares. I had to not be with my like entire family this Thanksgiving because it's not my holiday.....so hard! If I could snap my fingers I would want to be up with my sister! I miss her like crazy and her amazing kiddos!

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  25. I loved this! So honest and real! I'm so sorry you have to spend the holidays away from all of them; I can't even imagine how hard it can be. I hope you and the hubs have a very merry Christmas, making memories with your own "little family."

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  26. So many sweet things about this post that I don't really know where to begin. I wish there were some way for you to be able to be with your mom, Nana and KC for all the wonderful and important moments, and I'm sorry that you can't be. I can only guess how hard it must be for you to always be half a world away from someone you love. For what it's worth, I think you're incredibly brave, braver than me, to have made the move you did. Hope the excitement of being in NYC this Christmas makes up for some of the sadness of missing your family back home. xoxo

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  27. it must be so so hard to be so far away from your family! i can only imagine.
    thanks for linking up with me - excellent pick :)

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  28. I must say, Shake it Off is like the only song on the new album I dislike. I seem to be in the minority on this one!

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  29. This is so sweet and so beautifully written! I've never lived that far from my family so I can't imagine how hard that would be, but I do feel a little sad that we won't be there for Christmas with my husband's family and our niece and nephews this year! (They have become so much like my own family since my mom and dad are gone now) It would be seriously awesome if we could apparate wherever we wanted to go! I hope you have a happy Christmas with KC!

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  30. Oh, this was fun to read and see how you would spend Christmas in Australia. I'm sure that you miss your family even more than normal during the holidays - I hope you are able to at least talk/face time for awhile.

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  31. I love all of this. It's such a beautiful piece. It's so easy to take the times we spend with our loved ones for granted and it's often not fully appreciated, until it's lost or far away. I thought a lot about my mom-mom reading this and though it's sad, it's also lovely to always remember these things.

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  32. What great Christmas memories you have!!! Now you are making me homesick and mine is only 12 hours away lol. I was super close to both my Grandma's too:)))

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  33. I feel your pain on spending Christmas far away. I try to go home to Trinidad every other year so both sets of parents get to see us equally. Christmas is 90 degrees and sunny in December which I love!!

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  34. I felt like I was right in Melbourne with you! Loved this post and I'm so sorry that you have to be away from your family. I can only imagine how hard that is, especially this time of year! If only there was a way for you all to be together :) Hopefully you'll get to see each other soon!

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  35. aww I'm not an expat but I live far away from my family in the same country. I cant always make it home for Christmas either and it can be hard. I have a post similar to this in my drafts, haha. "what Christmas would be like if I were home.."

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  36. Bing Crosby's voice is heavenly, White Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas movies! I've only been away from my family for one Christmas that was in 2012, but we spent it with my BIL and SIL so we were technically still with family. It was hard being away from everyone so I can understand how you feel. I'm sure its hard, I guess we can be thankful for modern technology like Skype these days! Although, definitely not near as good as the real thing!

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  37. Lovely post! "pokies", "vinnies", "salvos" - I love Australian lingo! You know, I can relate. It's been 7 years, since I spent Christmas with my family. I'm like you; I know it is my decision to live here, and sacrifices are made because of it. This year, I am having the longest Christmas day ever! I'm spending Christmas morning/lunch here, getting on a plane at 3pm, flying direct Sydney to Dallas, arriving in Texas at 1:45pm (same day), and having Christmas dinner there. YAY!

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  38. This post was so sweet. I can only imagine how hard it is to be so far from your family. There's nothing like being home for the holidays, but your heart is totally there! Wishing you all the joy this season girl!!

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  39. I really enjoyed this post. I can't imagine how hard that must be, but like you said at least you are in contact. I love that your fam does the Christmas crackers, ours too! I totally love Shake it Off, so much that I felt the need to buy a gold foil print featuring the title haha. Not sure if that will be embarrassing for Marc if I try to hang it in a gallery wall! xo Enjoy the Holidays!

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  40. So sweet to be able to see inside your family and all the things you love about spending time with them. it must be hard to be so far from family but glad you have KC to start some new traditions.

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  41. I understand your thoughts and feelings almost exactly. We only go home for Christmas once in awhile and I actually have spent 2 out of 5 without Scott (deployments) anyway. Living far away is a sacrifice some of us make for different reasons. While it's tough around the holidays, the life experience is priceless, right?

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  42. This post made me super teary eyed! I know you just found my blog so to fill you in: I moved from Philadelphia to Alaska in April. The decision to do it wasn't hard - I love Alaska and everything it has to offer, including beautiful scenery, awesome hiking and running, cheaper rent, and a job that I love and that pays more than the one in Philly - but the actual leaving part was terrible. I will never forget my mom and dad sobbing as I drove away with my husband on our long journey. I am less homesick as time goes on but lately I've been crying multiple times a day over not going home for Christmas. And this song is my trigger! I know how much it sucks to be so far away from home, but you are strong for doing this. Thanks so much for writing this post, I think I might do one too because I really need to get all this out and know I'm not alone!

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  43. I know how you feel being away from family this year!!! It is hard but it is worth the experiences you are having! I too am starting to get homesick and Christmas is approaching!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  44. That sounds like such a great Christmas!!! I love the picture of the three of you when you guys were younger! So cute!

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  45. Oh girl I can only imagine how hard it is to be so far from "home" during the holidays. Apparation would TOTALLY be a great tool right now huh? And a family of readers...I like it :)

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  46. I know not every family's perfect, but I want to come hang out with yours :). Your nana sounds so sweet, mine is more on the crazy spectrum. Since I have moved away from home, I appreciate my mom a lot more. Sometimes when she can drive me crazy. But she is my best friend and I miss her alll the time, especially at Christmas.

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  47. i'd apparate through time to when my great granny Sugar was still alive and well. when i can't sleep, i mentally go through her house, like each room and imagine her there. calms me every time.

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  48. Aww this made me cry ha. Your Christmas traditions back home sound lovely. I'm sorry you can't always be back with your family during the holidays. I know how hard being away from your family can be. I hope you have a great weekend & a great Christmas dear.

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  49. It must be so hard to be away from home at Christmas. You should just have them carry around a laptop all day while you Skype. :) At least, you get to enjoy NYC this year!

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  50. No violin needed...it IS hard to be an expat. I only did it for a year, and while I felt a little homesickness, I imagine it gets worse with every year you are away. :/ I hope you get go next year!

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  51. Aw girl this def has to be hard I won't lie! LOVE the traditions and recap of the day though! Skype skype skype! :) Hope yall have an absolutely fabulous weekend! xo

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  52. "They are crazy and annoying and get under my skin like nobody else" you got that right!! This is how I feel about my family too. They are insane but I love them to pieces and wouldn't change any of them. Also that comment about your grandma getting shorter made me laugh so hard. Oh nanas, so cute and constantly shrinking

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  53. Oh man, I love looking at slides! My mom has a bunch from when she was a kid and they're just so COOL!
    What is a dill?! I feel like I want to start using that word but not until I know what it means... I've gotten myself into trouble before with using words I don't know! hahahahah
    I would apparate... ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE. I hate driving!

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  54. I love hearing how you would spend your Christmas in Australia! Sounds like so many great memories with your family! I want to meet your Nana, by the way!

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  55. This was such a great recap of how you spend Christmas when you're back in Australia! It sounds like the perfect amount of good food and family, with enough time to just relax and read together. Your nana sounds so sweet & I love all of the different family photos!

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  56. Your Nana sounds so sweet and funny! What great memories and traditions you have with your family for Christmas! Maybe someday in the near future you can spend a Christmas back in Melbourne with them! :)

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  57. Aw this sounds like so much fun and so much love! To me Christmas also means family and family is mainly in Montreal, Canada. And this year I'm with my Brit's family in England and while I'm enjoying it, I miss my family like crazy and wish I was there with them - having a warm and loud dinner, and making a snowman, and drinking hot chocolate, etc. So I fully agree - apparating would be amazing!

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