I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I am going home for Christmas.  Home to New Zealand, to join with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families and grandchildren and in-laws.  I am excited to be flying off in 3 days.  I haven’t had many extended family Christmases over the years.  When married to a Pastor, that was our busy time and after those years, it was the most expensive time to travel – so it just didn’t happen.  In the 35 years I’ve lived in Australia, this will be only my third Christmas home.  So I am excited.

Kiwi Christmas

I have always referred to New Zealand as my home because that is my birth place but having lived in Australia significantly longer than I did in NZ, I know that Australia is my real home now.  My Boys are Australian and I always find that as much as I love to visit my beautiful country of birth, by the end of my trip I am ready to go Home!

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*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries.

So I am excited for my visit but I can also feel the sadness creeping up on me, as leaving day approaches.  This will be the first Christmas since we became a family, that I won’t be with any of my Boys on Christmas Day.  Some of us have been apart previously, but I have always had at least one of my Boys with me.  This year I could have had all 3 of them with me but circumstances prevailed.  (Story for another post!)   So my Boys will Christmas together and I will Christmas in NZ!

Not that I have missed out.  We have already shared Christmas celebrations with 2 of my Australian families and their kids.

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Typical Aussie Christmas Day lunch.

And I hope to share some Christmas cheer with my BFF  before we go to spend  An Evening with Oprah tomorrow night.  Did I even tell you that? ….. Oprah and Me!!!!!!  Bucket list ticking off happening right there!

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But I digress … It was so great to see my Boys in the pool with our friends kidlets or twirling them around and around or just generally having fun. Backyard cricket was the game of their day – pool cricket was what they were taught by the 3 & 6 year olds last night!!  Surely, it seems only yesterday that they were the ones being tossed in the pool or enjoying their presents.

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So, I prepare for my journey home with joy and anticipation.  Looking forward to making memories and filling my heart with love and blessings.  But each day, I may just be caught in thought of what those gorgeous Men that Adrian and I made together, might be doing at Home?  Knowing they are there for each other and totally enjoying their special Christmas together.

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Illustration by Julie Vivas from the book The Nativity.

*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries recipe here.

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Hidden Treasures!

I have been away.  I have had another trip to my Mother-in-law’s (MIL) to finalize her move to a nursing home, where she will spend the rest of her days.  It was  a requested trip that I was putting off as long as possible because I knew it was going to be hard – and it was!

I booked my flight and flew out within 48 hours of the phone call I received from the cousins who had been working for weeks without my input.  I owed them …. so I went, but I went with a dread within me!  I knew it would be all the things I dislike.  Flying, cold weather, no car, relying on others, meeting people I didn’t know very well, making decisions, packing, cleaning, no internet, being away from my support system …. I could go on and on!  But I went …. I’m good in a crisis – I told myself!!

The airport and the flight went well.  I love the check in online before you get there, as it frees my mind and gives me security.  Once again, seat 17F came in for me with a row to myself and I didn’t need to ask for a seatbelt extender.  Just before landing, I did something I usually don’t do – I used the toilet on the aircraft.  I don’t like aeroplane toilets as they make me feel claustrophobic and panicky.  But when the need arises, there is no alternative!  Before leaving the toilet, I checked everything was tucked in and straightened and clean. I returned to my seat and waited for landing and disembarking.  It wasn’t long before I was greeting my cousin by marriage, after a long walk through the airport to the baggage claim.  As my cousin got my bag, I suddenly felt something dangling behind me!  Yes, you guessed it!  I had walked off the plane, past the flight attendants, through a busy airport like this ….

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And so it began!!!  From then on, it went much as I expected.  There was plenty of this ….

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That eventually turned into this …..

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But what I didn’t expect were the hidden treasures I discovered.  Love letters dated 1945!  Baptismal remembrances dated 1918!  Garden plans from 1982, with every rose named!  Unsigned Secret Admirer letters to my husband!

And these gorgeous things from MIL’s younger days ….

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I, also, didn’t expect to find the wonderful, caring, uplifting relationships I experienced from my husband’s family, both in the city and on the farm where I stayed.  It wasn’t long before my tired mind and body were nourished with food and warmth and love and conversation and most especially laughter.  I was embraced into a family that I had never really known I had.  These people were mostly just names to me.  Yes, I may have stayed at their home once long ago and chatted on the phone for a few moments but to pick me up and to make me feel loved and cherished was something I had not been prepared for.  My mind and heart came back to Brisbane refreshed and full.  After hard days at my MIL’s Unit, I was lucky to be able to experience this ….

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And this ….

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And not to forget this ….

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How relieved I am to be able to leave my MIL in the Nursing Home, knowing that these caring family members will visit her and care for her when I am not able to be there.  They made so many sacrifices for me while I was with them, as they have done for my MIL over the years.  Yes, it was hard to leave her but I know she is cared for and happier than the last time I saw her – mostly because she had been visited by the hairdresser and had a cut and perm!  Not bad for nearly 97!

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My flight back to Brisbane gave me some stunning views of Moreton Island from the plane window. (As seen at the top of my post.)  This completed a most wonderful trip away, full of Hidden Treasures!

Some would say I am lucky – I choose to called it blessed.

“The Plane Is Hovering!”

Last week I was so tired that I could not function!  I was unable to string two words together coherently or move without bumping things.  Thinking clearly was just not possible.  I was physically and mentally shot!

It had been a busy weekend, which included, a quick flight to Adelaide and then a hire car drive to Murray Bridge to visit my mother-in-law (MIL) who had had another fall and was in hospital.  BossBoy and BabyBoy accompanied me and I could not have survived without them.

Sleep is my number one stress release and when stress increases, so does my need for sleep!  When you are on a quick trip – jam-packed with activity, sleep is not a priority but stress is high!  It began with Brisbane being hit by some massive storms, which closed the airport for 4 hours!  Free wi-fi was found.  Junk food was eaten.  People watching took place.

You would think that when we eventually boarded the aircraft, I would feel relief?  Not so!  Flying is not my thing and walking out on the tarmac in driving wind and rain, made me pray that the Valium I had just taken would kick in quickly!  Of course, squeezing into budget airline seats and having to ask the cabin crew for a seatbelt extender did wonders for my stress levels.  I have never ever seen anyone else ask for or be given one of those things.  My stress levels continued to rise.  It was a bumpy flight with plenty of turbulence and my sons held my hands.  I couldn’t sleep and was happy to get off.

By this time it was almost midnight, we were 4 hours late, our phones had run out of battery and no one could remember the name of the rental car company!  BabyBoy began the arduous task of entering every rental car premises in the airport car park and asking if they had a booking for us!  The very last one did!!!  We checked into our hotel and then wandered out to find somewhere to eat – none of us had really eaten since breakfast the previous day.  It was after 1am before we climbed into bed.  I was exhausted before we had even seen my MIL and we still had an hour or so drive in the morning before we got to the hospital.

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A midnight Pie Floater – meat pie, mushy peas & sauce. Their father would be proud!

The next two days was a mixture of lovely family time, beautiful Autumn scenery, pub food, out of date packet food, remembering, meetings to decide important care issues, trying to do the best for MIL, trying not to step on anybody’s toes, bad beds, hospital visiting, encouraging, listening and talking, talking, talking!  We were grateful for the small band of distant relatives that live closer than us and had put their hands up to help with the care of our 96-year-old MIL and Nana.

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Nana and her Boys!

By lunchtime on Monday, we were all packed up and back in our rental car to return to Adelaide for our flight home.  We took a more scenic route back, thanks to BossBoy’s creative navigating!  Note to self: BossBoy is a useless navigator!  The Boys wanted to visit some of their father’s old haunts so a brief visit to the Sturt Football Club, the old Luther Seminary and a meal at The Welly were squeezed in before we all hit the wall of exhaustion together.  It was decided that any other planned activities would not be fulfilled.  We would head out to the airport and find somewhere to sit/lie and wait for our plane.  It was about this time that BabyBoy remembered that we still had an ancient computer in the boot of the car to dump!  I smiled to myself as I watched my sons, under the stealth of darkness, wait until there was a break in traffic, then deposit the offending computer and monitor into someones wheelie bin that had been left at the side of the road.  They were in their father’s territory …. he would have been proud!

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Luther Seminary aka Australian Lutheran College.

We returned the rental car, more easily than picking it up – we remembered the company this time.  We found our boarding gate and sat for an hour before a change of gate saw us moved then boarded.  I took my Valium, but no longer cared that I had to ask for an extension belt.  I closed my eyes but my mind would not close down.  The flight was smooth but my son held my hand for take off and landing.  I do believe that if you are flying on a budget airline and the flight is only 2 hours, you should NOT be allowed to recline your seat!  For 2 hours I could not move my legs or use my tray table.  I got fidgety and jiggly.  I tried to distract myself by looking out of the window.  It was pitch black and I made the comment to the Boys that “The plane is hovering!!”  The looks of shock that came back from the Boys, gave me the first inkling that my brain and body was no longer functioning properly.

I was quiet on the taxi and car ride home. At 1:15am, I sank into my bed but my over stimulated body and mind was not conducive to restful sleep.  I had to attend work in the morning and I knew in my gut that my job was no longer going to be available for me.  I eventually fell asleep just before the alarm went off.

Work went as I had expected.  I almost fell asleep at my computer screen.  When the news about my job was confirmed, I cried!  I felt weary beyond anything I had ever felt before.  My drive home was not a safe drive.  I couldn’t concentrate.  When at last I sank into bed, I did sleep, but it took until Friday for my body and mind to feel normal.

In the last week and a bit, I had stretched my mind and body further than I thought was possible.  I had made it through and come out the other side with no sense of despair or failure.  I enter into the next scary part of my life knowing that the two things that I thought have been my weakest – are strong enough!  I am strong enough!

Always remember ...