It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you’re 18,000 kilometres from home. Add to that distance a seemingly endless string of sunny days with highs of 30-35 degrees Celsius, a lack of familiar Christmas-time treats (no pumpkin or apple pies, no hot apple cider or mulled wine… even hunting down candy canes took some work!), and no Christmas tree – unless you want to go artificial or get a scraggly, overpriced one (no thanks) – and it can be a real recipe for homesickness.
I have to be honest: there are moments when I wonder if we’ve done the right thing in moving here. I see pictures of my former Radian6 colleagues and recall what a fun atmosphere it was there. I was five minutes from the office (15 by bike), worked a good schedule (let’s not talk about the first 8 or 9 months), often came home for lunch, enjoyed my role and relationships with clients, and had great benefits! We were within a few hours drive of basically all our immediate family members, lived right in the same city as Kathryn’s sister and her family, and were part of a great church with rockin’ worship teams. So sometimes I wonder… why did we leave?
Love of adventure is one of the topics Kathryn and I bonded over in the early days of our relationship. She’d been around the world and had a hunger to see more of it. I’d been to a couple of places as well, and once the seed of travel gets planted in you it tends to grow, sometimes seeping right into the folds of your frontal lobe, affecting your ability to reason and rationalize. Another factor would be the compelling circumstances that led up to the job offer, but that’s a story for another day.
In a roundabout way – do I ever approach a topic directly? – what I’m getting at is this: Australia is our home now, so we need to come to appreciate and enjoy it for what it is, lest we wallow in misery every holiday for the rest of our days. And really, it’s not a bad place to call home at all. Most days I’d even go so far as to say I’m happy to be here for Christmas, despite the differences in climate, menu, and company.
Today we were invited to a friend’s place for a Christmas Eve pool party. It was a fantastic day, basically like the peak of July/August back home, and the water temperature in the pool was 32 degrees C. We stayed in the water for at least an hour, and it was at just that temperature where it felt like me and everyone around me was peeing the whole time. But that didn’t stop me from splashing and flailing around the pool with delight. Even Eden enjoyed the water, which was a first for her. Every time she’s tried swimming in the past the water has been substantially colder, so she’s just stiffened up and whimpered until we’ve ceased the undeserved torture.
A few other families were invited to this event as well, all of whom were from faraway countries (the UK, South Africa, Holland), and I think we all appreciated the family feel of the day. I know it meant a lot to me at least. I was truly happy, plain and simple. I was relaxed, grateful, and optimistic about the future.
A few days ago I started to sing “I’ll be home for Christmas” on my way to work, and then I stopped myself because I realized it wasn’t true, and it might just be too sad to sing it. But now I take that back: I am home for Christmas, just in a new home, with new friends and “family”, and it’s good. The slideshow below contains a bunch of pictures from the last few weeks. Some are from up north, but most are from here in the city. I’ve included a bunch of flower shots, all from within our own yard. It’s crazy – there are so many beautiful flowering plants within the confines of our fence!
So Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family, wherever you happen to be in the world. Thank you for inviting us into your lives (or enduring our intrusion into your lives) whenever and wherever you did so, and may the new year bring you many opportunities for adventure, learning, service to others, and wonder at this world we’re so privileged to be a part of. My wish for you is that you’ll be content in your home, or have the courage to make the changes necessary to bring contentedness and peace to your life.