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.
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.|
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?