lifestyle

"You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone - especially at Christmas."

Woolworths
Thanks to our brand partner, Woolworths

You know the saying – You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Well it probably becomes even more obvious when you aren’t with your family at Christmas time.

There was a time I used to find it an incredible inconvenience to have to organise the day and try and divide it between two large families. Now I’d almost give anything to have to make those choices again.

Around four years ago, my entire family (my husband and my three children) upped sticks and moved 2,000 kms away to a place where we knew almost no one. We had to for a range of reasons but mainly it came down to the fact that we needed work and Melbourne was where the work was at.

It all felt like a very big adventure at first. We’d only ever known our home on the Gold Coast and it was the place where all of our friends and family lived – and still mostly do. Upon arrival, it was so exciting and new. We had jobs to settle into, schools to make new friends at and a house to fill with furniture.

But it wasn’t long before reality set in and all of us, one by one, started to get incredibly homesick. I would say, that I felt this the most acutely and within two months, I was prepared to tuck my tail between my legs and just go home.

That’s when we discovered we weren’t alone. In fact, there was a community that we hadn’t counted on that were there for us and it made all the difference.

christmas away from home
“That’s when we discovered we weren’t alone. In fact, there was a community that we hadn’t counted on that were there for us and it made all the difference.” Image: Supplied.

See that picture above?  That’s not our Christmas tree, yet we use it every year at Christmas. Four years on, we still don’t own that Christmas tree. No, this Christmas tree belongs to our neighbours who, upon hearing that we didn’t own one after arriving with basically nothing, said they had a spare one we could use.

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Soon after, a fellow neighbour arrived with a leather couch, one they were determined for us to use until we could get to the shops and buy our own. Seems word had gotten out that we were new in town (and also that my husband had ever so thoughtfully, culled pretty much everything we’d ever owned prior to moving).

Not long after, I arrived home from work to find that our other neighbours, the ones who have children of similar ages to ours, were cooking a BBQ and asked us to join them. At first, I’ll admit I was suspicious of all of this ‘giving’. Why were people being so nice to us? Virtual strangers, people who they really didn’t know, why were they being so nice to us? But then I went outside and into the courtyard and was delighted to find our other lovely neighbour who had given us the tree, was also there. Now either a) we were being Punk’d b) were on the Truman Show or c) we just really had stumbled across really great neighbours. 

christmas away from home
“I went outside and into the courtyard and was delighted to find our other lovely neighbour who had given us the tree, was also there. Now either a) we were being Punk’d b) were on the Truman Show or c) we just really had stumbled across really great neighbours. ” Image: Supplied.

And it didn’t stop there. When Christmas rolled around a few short months later they invited us to be a part of their Christmas day lunch. Which of course, just made me cry. We couldn’t afford to go back “home” so soon after moving here and the thought of having a quiet Christmas lunch would have been too much to bear. It was to be the first of many times they would make us feel more than just neighbours and more like part of their extended family, part of a community.

And even four years later, I like to look at our borrowed tree with its fake plastic snow and every growing mountain of handmade decorations and be reminded that we were embraced without hesitation. And be reminded how lucky we truly are.

How have you celebrated Christmas away from your loved ones?

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