The real meaning of Christmas...

It's taken two months, 54 blog posts and five countries, but it has finally hit me.

I am missing home.

Not UK, not London, but my family home, that is my parents' home. The main reason for this is, of course, Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas has been debated backwards and forwards by greater minds than I and this is not my turn to take on this battle, but instead I'd like to take a few moments to explain what Christmas means to me now that I am away from home and the usually busy and festive run up to Christmas I half enjoy, half endure, has all but passed me by in Southeast Asia.

This will be my first Christmas away from my family. Despite spending Christmas abroad previously it has always been with my immediate family - my happily married mother and father, and my two big little brothers. No matter where I may be living I've always descended upon my parents house for Christmas Day and as much time either side as possible. It is since living away from home that I have truly appreciated the warmth, sometimes literal but always metaphorical, to be found in my family home.

Thanks to my Mum's masterful cooking and organisational skills, Christmas is precious annual downtime for me providing I can get enough time off work. I go home, I put big woolly socks on, I unwind by the fire, I listen to the recent additions to my Dad's CD collection and drink endless cups of tea with my Mum. My brothers come over with their respective others, we play boardgames, we argue like we were children again, we laugh at each other with love in our eyes. It's downtime and it is family time. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am just bloody lucky. Aside from the love, support and encouragement my family give me, I am also lucky enough to just enjoy their company. And it is their company that I will particularly miss on Christmas Day... There are, of course, no regrets. I am happy to be here in Australia. Meeting NewMan's Mum and family has dispelled any nerves and excelled my expectations and I am so happy to be spending time with his family and friends this Christmas. I've heard his Aunt is a whizz at Christmas Day Scrabble games and they've just had a pool built in the back garden in time for our arrival. I've been promised a traditional Aussie BBQ and I am actually very looking forward to the "no presents" rule we've all agreed to. Already I have so enjoyed meeting some of NewMan's oldest friends who've allowed me a special insight into his life before me and before London. It has made me realise that this leg of the trip, in Australia is about so much more than just travelling, and I wouldn't change that for the world.

Likewise I wouldn't change what Christmas means to me. It may not be the true meaning of Christmas but Christmas time is family time for me and maybe it took being on the other side of the world to realise that and how important that is to me.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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