As we approach December I have to confess I’m feeling a teensy bit smug. Usually at this point in the year I am rapidly descending down the rabbit hole that is Christmas bazaars, carol concerts and an ever-growing list of presents to buy for family and friends, not to mention trying to organise the comings and goings of family over the festive period. Sorting out beds and linen for everyone is a military operation in our house and for the last eight years I’ve had a changeover morning around the 27th where one lot of family goes home, the beds get stripped, washed, sort of dried and ironed before the next lot descends on us. But this year, everything is different because this year we have chosen to go away.
And when I say go away, I mean we’re going to the other side of the world. On Christmas Day we will be in Melbourne, Australia, either on the beach or in the park, we haven’t decided yet and won’t until the day – I can’t tell you how good that feels not to have any concrete plans.
At first, it may appear as though we’ve chosen to go on holiday to flee the hordes and the pressures of hosting duties and, while I can’t deny that not having to secure an M&S turkey collection slot weeks in advance did give me a thrill, that’s not what has driven me and my husband to take our children and fly to Oz. The whole trip was actually started by family in a way. You see my Uncle died three years ago and, as he was a bachelor and didn’t have any children of his own, he left me and my sibling some money. I had never been left any money before and, at first, I didn’t quite know what to do with it. However, while I flirted with the idea of spending money updating the house or buying a car with it none of those options seemed quite right. So, slowly I began to wonder whether a family trip was the answer.
Although, we had lived in Australia for a year before we were married, we always knew we would love to take the children. But four plane tickets down under are not cheap and we couldn’t see when we were ever going to save up enough money to take that kind of a big holiday. My children, aged eight and five, were also surprisingly close to my Uncle, considering they were relatively young when he died. They still talk about him now with my son, who was only three at the time, remembering how they sat on his lap in the hospice and gave him cuddles at the end. My Uncle always dreamt of visiting Australia too, so everything about this trip seemed right.
My hope for our time away is that we make lasting, meaningful memories as a family. Ones that we will always cherish and that will expand all our minds and horizons. There is no doubt that it is a lot of money to spend on two weeks away and I’m sure a lot of people would have been more cautious with the money, but I reason that this family time is the greatest gift that one generation can give to the next. That gift started with my Uncle, was passed down to me and hopefully on to my children through their experiences. On Christmas Day we’ll be doing something completely different for the first time but we’ll be making memories as a family and we will stop and take a moment to remember the man who made it possible.
A Guest Blog from Julie Ferry
Julie is a journalist and author. Her first book The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau was published earlier this year. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two children. Follow her on Instagram.
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