If ever there was a time to be homesick, people would probably say that Christmas is a classic time. If you are away from all your family and away from your usual traditions then it stands to reason that it might make a person a little melancholy. Unless you make new traditions and enjoy the company of the family you have with you!
We started off with Christmas Eve at Evelyn and Charlie’s. (Evelyn is my Mum’s Auntie – Linda’s Mum). She had prepared a huge buffet for her four children, their partners, her grandchildren and great grandchildren – and us! We sat out in the garden and enjoyed the pleasantly warm afternoon (about 25c I think)It was lovely to be amongst all these people who are family, but still pretty new to us and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. All the kids exchanged presents – it was an unwrapping frenzy!
We came home and got ourselves organised for our own Christmas Eve tradition. The kids got into their new Christmas pyjamas and snuggled down on the settee to watch ‘The Polar Express’. We have done this every year since Alexander was three and in the throes of his train obsession! He has moved on from trains now but the film remains a firm favourite for the festive season.
The kids went off to bed without any grumbling – a day running around in the sunshine tired them out good and proper! Before they went, they left some milk and biscuits out for Santa. Michael had cleared out the fridge earlier and had thrown out the (perfectly good) carrot we had left so we left an apple for the reindeer instead. They also wrote a wee note for Santa
(Ruby’s original present request was for a life size robot horse that she could ride to school).
For the first time ever, I didn’t spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents as I had done all that a couple of days ago. Michael and I sat watching some tv and just chilling – lovely!
We were awoken at 6.30am when Ruby came running through announcing that she felt sick. She made a startling recovery when we said that as we were up we would go and see if Santa had been yet.
The kids were delighted with their presents. They don’t ask for much and they were really pleased with what they got (Ruby didn’t mind that Santa hasn’t worked out how to make robot horses yet!). Alexander loved zooming round the house on his new scooter and was over the moon with his remote control helicopter
We Skyped Mum and Dad while the kids opened some of their presents and swapped Christmas wishes with them. Being away from them was very odd.
The kids played with their new toysand Michael went into the city to collect Jeni and Dave who were joining us for Christmas Day. When he was gone I set the table and got everything ready for our Christmas breakfast. Mum always does croissants and bucks fizz so we transported that tradition here and added a giant apfel pfannkuchen – we love that stuff!
Jeni and Dave arrived and it was, as always, lovely to see them. Having them here has made things so nice for us. Jeni is one of my very best friends – the sort of friend who helps herself in your cupboards, mucks in with the dishes and knows that you can get changed into your jammies as soon as you get home from a night out (as we would prove later in the night!)
We took Larry out for a good walk so he could burn off loads of energy before we had to leave him alone when we went out. He had a good swim in the lake, chased the geese, chased Ruby on her bike, chased birds in the park and chased his tail! He certainly burned off some energy! We brought him home and then got ourselves organised to walk up to Linda’s.
When we got there there were plates and bowls and platters full of turkey, ham, beef, prawns, salads, potatoes, pasta, rice – everything you could possibly want! We all tucked in and sat together round the enormous tables Linda had set. As well as the Stewarts, there were friends and their families too – other Scots, and an Irish family too – all with Aussie kids! We had lots of laughs throughout the feast but I had to keep reminding myself that this was Christmas day! It was just so alien to be sitting in shorts and flip flops while eating turkey and stuffing!
After a while it was time for dessert (actually, this was sheer gluttony – the main course had been more than enough!) and while I went for Linda’s legendary trifle (uber-yum!) Ruby went for the mini pavlovas instead.
As the night wore on the conversation just kept on and I felt so lucky to be spending the day in such great company, in lovely surroundings in a country that has been so good to us. It wasn’t Christmas as we know it but it was a new, fantastic sort of Christmas!
After dark the kids were all out of the pool and dried off, the night was warm and still, Hughie put on some Scottish tunes and we all got a bit sentimental. ‘Loch Lomond’ by Runrig has been played at the end of so many parties and weddings where I have spent great nights with people now thousands of miles away. ‘Dignity’ by Deacon Blue reminds me of dancing at Jeni’s wedding with all my very best and oldest friends when we were all bridesmaids for Jeni and Dave. When ‘Caledonia’ by Dougie MacLean came on it could all have gone horribly, horribly wrong but instead Michael and Dave jumped into the pool fully clothed!
Jeni and I sat watching them, rolling our eyes at how naughty they were – until ‘500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers came on and then there was nothing else for it, we jumped in too! I don’t have any pics of that obviously, but I can tell you that it was one of the most joyful moments ever! Almost six months ago, when we had first moved in to our rented house, we had no furniture, very few of our own belongings and the reality that we were here for good had just dawned on us, this tune came on the radio and we had an impromptu family disco in the living room. It lifted our spirits and brought us all back together. Tonight it did just the same thing. We *could* have been all sad that we were far away from so many of our friends and family but in reality we were having a great time experiencing our new lives.
We got out, wrung out our clothes and put them back on, still dripping wet! This seemed like a good time to head home!
When we got in the boys changed out of their wet clothes and Jeni and I got dressed for bed (see, best friends can wear their jammies any time they are together!) and we played ‘Pictionaussie’ – Pictionary but with Aussie words/phrases etc.
It was hilarious but probably in a ‘you had to be there’ way. One thing I know for sure, we are all rubbish at drawing the outline of Australia! We laughed ourselves silly, had some crackers and cheese and then trollied off to bed – tired, a little bit tipsy but very, very happy.
Merry Christmas everyone!