This is the story of 35-year-old Melbourne single dad Tyrell Moore and his 10-year-old daughter Mariah, as told to Corrine Barraclough.
“I’ve been the primary residential parent for my daughter, Mariah, since she was 28 months old. We left my violent partner and ended up homeless after being rejected by all domestic violence shelters as they only accept women.
My ex currently has substantially supervised four-hour access, three times a fortnight.
Mariah loves Christmas! I’m an aboriginal man, and returning to my ancestral land is very important to me. Every second year we return to country to see family. Going home is always such a relief; as soon as we get there all the world’s stresses disappear.
We spend time with my mum, aunties, uncles and extended family. We all pitch tents in the backyard and Mariah gets to run around with about 20 kids. No wonder she loves it!
Unfortunately, the Santa cat is out of the bag. She found out last week who Santa really is - me! A friend of mine let it slip. She had an inkling anyway. She came and took my hand and said, 'Dad, I thought it was you. The writing on Santa’s gift tags looks exactly like yours!'
I never enjoyed Christmas until my daughter was born. Until you have a child you don’t know what unconditional love is. Since she was born, I’ve wanted to give her magic and hope each Christmas, and belief the world is a special place.
As all single parents know, money is tight. Life can be tough, so I like to make Christmas as special as I can for her.
All adult relatives will stay up on Christmas Eve wrapping presents. We’ll be at my aunty’s house; she’s a very stylish aboriginal woman and is brilliant at decorating to make everything feel festive. She’s 47 and pregnant with triplets who are due on January 6th so this really will be a special time for us.
We’ll all be up early to have breakfast and open presents with the kids. Mariah needs a laptop for school so that’s on the list and I’ll get her some surprises.
I buy presents in four categories: something to read, something you need, something you want and something to wear.
I always buy her a dress for Christmas. The good thing about being back home is it’s around 40 degrees. I can wash her new dress when she’s opened it on Christmas morning and it’s dry, ready for her to wear in an hour. Yes, I always wash new clothes before she wears them!