We spent this Christmas at the Gold Coast. Earlier this year when my brother told me his holiday dates, I explained that our plan was to arrive just before Christmas and then stay for a few nights afterwards to make the most of his time off. That was our plan before looking at the prices of flights. My motto before checking flights was, “Family is far more important than money! We’ll pay whatever it takes in order to spend the most time possible with our loved ones!” My motto after checking flights was, “I don’t care if everyone’s still working for almost all the time we’re there, I ain’t paying more than $1000 on airfares if I ain’t even leavin’ the country.” (I turn into a Texan when feeling shocked.)
On Christmas Eve, in Ballina, Moses and Hazel put up and decorated my aunty and uncle’s bare tree, and seeing their tinselly creation made me realise for the first time that it was actually Christmas. I’d been so caught up in the end-of-year dinners and the writing of Things-We-Absolutely-Cannot-Forget-When-We-Go-To-The-Gold-Coast lists and the packing of bags that this fact had managed to slip me by. Alan and I gave Mo and Hazel a present each on the Sunday before we left to go away, and told them they could also spend some of the Christmas money they’d been given by (my incredibly generous) grandparents on a toy after we returned from holidays. We explained to Moses (for another year) that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, and that to honour Jesus’ love for others we’d be spending our money on people who needed it, rather than on showering Mo and Hazel (or anyone else – we’re sucky friends/relatives) with stuff. Mo seemed okay with this. It was the first year in a while that our approach to Christmas has made sense to me and seems satisfactory for the kids too. Christmas may not be so confusing after all! *sighs contentedly*
In the four-and-a-half days we were up north we squeezed in catch-ups with eight sets of relatives in five different locations (two of which were in Ballina), and asked “Do you mean Queensland or New South Wales time?” roughly fourteen times. Per day. It was an exhausting whirlwind of a trip, which left Moses so ridiculously tired he slept until 10:30am (New South Wales time) on our final day there, and Hazel so ridiculously tired she woke up at her normal time of 5am (Queensland time) but then whinged until she found the opportunity to sleep again (in the car on the way to the airport, and then on me, and then on Alan).
It was sad cutting so many of our visits short in order to move on to the next group of people we had to see, when we hadn’t covered all of the things we wanted to ask/say and probably wouldn’t even if we talked nonstop for another few hours/days. The kids spent more time with my brother’s pool than with my brother himself, which made me wish desperately that we lived far closer to him, his wife, and his three cute but smelly children/dogs (they’re dogs, but it’s uncanny how similar they are to children when you start sharing stories about discipline and personality). His pool was pretty awesome, though.
Home’s pretty awesome too.