When you get married to someone, you inherit a lot.
You inherit them. Their family. Their values, interests, ambitions.
You also inherit, their traditions.
And when it comes to the holy days of the year, you inherit those too.
And if they happen to fall on a different day, well…
DOUBLE THE FUN.
We have Catholic Christmas. Orthodox Christmas.
Catholic Easter. And then Orthodox Easter.
Double the fun! Double the food! Double the chocolate, and presents, and memories, and good times…
And it suits me just fine that we have these different, but oh-so-similar backgrounds. That we can blend them together in our family, baby girl gets a cultural taste of both, and we can make all of this work, FOR ALL.
And on that note… Happy Orthodox Easter to anyone celebrating today. I am about to pop, and yet I am going to walk back to the kitchen now for more sweet bread, otherwise known as kozinjak…
Today was the day that we said goodbye to our family home.
The home that my parents have lived in for 40 years.
The home that my sister spent growing up as a teenager, all the way until she got married.
The home that’s the only childhood, family home I’ve ever known… that I lived in for 25 years until I got married.
Goodbye, number 14.
It was an emotionally bittersweet day. Emotional because oh God, all of the above! So many memories are in every inch, every corner, every crevice of that house.
Through the rush to get everything out of the house this morning, I tried to pause every so often, look around, take a breath, and say a personal thanks to the house that made my years growing up, the best in the world.
Here is the emotional part.
I was reflecting on my life spent there as I walked around the empty rooms, a bit taken aback by the hollowness of it all. The furniture, furnishings, and all the photos and trinkets that made it such a loved home, were all gone.
But oh, those walls. If those walls could talk.
Those walls would speak of happiness, of laughter. Of sadness and shock, family coming together, and family celebrating to make the most out of life.
And love. SO much love.
Memories hit me as I walked into rooms, turned corners. Looked this way, that. People from the past resurfaced, along with people from the present.
In the lounge room, I saw myself sitting on the floor while my parents watched footy on the TV.
In the kitchen I saw my Mum cooking up a feast, our family sitting down to eat at the small round table, perfect for us in size, so perfect, to keep us tight and close together, as always.
In the garden I saw happiness. Friends, cousins, brimming around, enjoying a drink on a hot Summer’s day, folk music from the garage wafting over and adding to the festive atmosphere of it all.
The garage, ohhhh, the garage. Where so, so, so many parties and events were had. Birthdays. Milestones. Weddings. Day after weddings! New Years. And all of the Christmases that Mum cooked up a storm, catering for over 30 people like it was an absolute breeze, even though it wasn’t.
She made it look effortless.
Those were the days. Those were the BEST days.
The park next door. Hearing the squeals of happiness from our younger cousins as they took advantage of the play proximity.
At the front door, I saw my sister being led out in her wedding dress by my parents… then I saw myself, doing the same.
The dining room showed me all of us, our big family, as we are now. The original foursome, us, being my parents, sister and I, but now with our Hubbies and our kids, filling up the table, eating heaps, drinking more, and playing music off of youtube on the mobile until the late hours of the night.
In my bedroom. The bedroom that I spent 15 years of my life sleeping, dreaming and hoping in. I had another room for the first 10 years of my life, but I claimed this one, sister’s one, after she got married and moved out.
It’s always been the better room.
I sat in my old room. Took some photos around me. And then here, I began to cry.
I remember watching Video Hits for hours on weekend mornings.
My childhood cat scratching at my window, wanting to be let in, and then me opening the window to shoo her, upset she had woken me… but when she jumped down from the window sill outside, I thought stuff it, you’ve woken me now… and so I would call her back in (she must have thought I was a crazy bipolar cat owner) and she’d snuggle up next to me as I slept a little more.
I’d open up that window, and talk to friends through it.
I talked to SO MANY people, through it.
I listened to music for hours on my bed.
I had sleepovers in that room.
I had sleepovers in that house! On the lounge room floor, covered in blankets and sleeping bags.
When Croatia played Australia in the 2006 World Cup, Hubbie-then-boyfriend and I watched it, me running around the house with a Cro flag when Croatia scored a goal, and Hubbie running around the house with an Aussie flag when they scored a goal.
I don’t remember who won that game. All I remember is the memories.
All the people who came, and went from that house. It would be in the hundreds. Friends, family, people who I grew up with, grew apart from, so many people have touched base in that house, shared a laugh, a dance, a drink, and made a memory.
Even baby girl. It was the first place that she ever visited, after her own home.
Speaking of baby girl… My waters broke in that house! And my own Mum’s waters broke in there, when she was pregnant with me!
Both sister’s Hubbie, and my Hubbie, met my parents for the first time in THAT lounge room…
News broke. Secrets shared. Heavy discussions were had. Tears shed.
People were welcomed. People were greeted.
People came in, and immediately knew that there was love. They were safe. They were in a memorable place.
And so today, the time came. We walked through the house. We took our final photos.
And we drove off, for good.
That was seriously bitter, right?
Where is the sweet?
Well, it comes with the choice. How blessed are we that this was born of my parents decision to move closer to me and sis, and not because of a bad circumstance.
How lucky are we that we get to say goodbye, together, in the best way possible… and how lucky that we still get to take ALL the memories with us?
Including most importantly, the people.
I am so looking forward to making just as many happy memories in their new abode. 🏡🏡
But my heart will always hold a very special and dear place, for number 14.
I finally cashed in my discovery session from LAST year’s Christmas present from Hubbie, at this, what can I even call it…
A fitness studio? No.
Yoga? Nope, it’s more than that.
Clairvoyant? Nah, but some of the things that came out were freaky…
It’s a wellness space, that’s what I’ll call it. All things concerned with mind and body, how they are connected, and learning new ways of remaining healthy (i.e for others, being fit) within a different set of rules.
Trying to be more YIN, than YANG.
The only reason I didn’t cash in this voucher from last year’s present earlier, is because, well, you know guys…
I walked in today, curious, questioning, and feeling a bit flat admittedly…
And I walked out tired, but not tired YAWN tired.
Tired like my body had just gone through a journey!
It had made a discovery… and now it needed some down time.
Now that I’ve started this journey of mind-body self-awareness, I may just need to venture down this path more often. 😉
Hubbie and I woke today, the day after Christmas, feeling inspired.
With the knowledge that we still had the whole weekend off, together, to ourselves, we were fuelled by this rare holiday scenario, and started off by feverishly cleaning and organising everything in the house…
INSIDE, and OUT.
The sun was shining, it was fine, and we set about getting to work. In amongst this random Spring-clean in Summer, we thought of a plan… BBQ? Tonight? With family? Friends?
So we sent a few messages out.
The responses? Busy. Tired.
Our bbq gathering wasn’t to be… or was it?
If this had happened pre-covid, I would have been pretty down. Down that we were all riled up and ready to socialise, and yet people either weren’t willing or able.
Post-covid though? Hey, we are our own best company!
Music, meat, salad and bread… inject some sunshine, and voila!
A great Saturday night. 💖😉
And you know, through it all, I was happy. Who said that covid didn’t teach us something, hey?
Did you know Queen has a Christmas song? Actually, two that I know of. The one I’m referring to, the same title as my blog post, well I discovered it a few months ago.
But upon finding it to play, I struggled to get through it without tears in my eyes, as the lyrics hit me hard, having gone through some issues at the time.
This morning, I put it on repeat, several times.
“Oh, my friends, it’s been a long hard year
But now it’s Christmas
Yes it’s Christmas
Thank God it’s Christmas.”
Those were my sentiments exactly, and I went into Christmas at my parents house, shared with my sister and her family, feeling utterly grateful.
Snapshots of Christmas 2020.
You might notice a plate of lemons in there. Well you see, lemons are the right fruit to refer to with what I’m about to share, having played an important part of a moment I had today.
Not only was I grateful to be amongst family after a year like no other, where hardship and difficulty seemed to arrive at every opportunity, but it was a bittersweet Christmas in that it would be the last at my childhood home before my parents moved house.
It was a Christmas, like so many we’d had there before… full of love, happiness, laughter, and great memories. But every now and then, it hit me – CRAP, this was our last one there.
I was cutting up lemons for our evening prawn feast, when it struck me again.
Last Christmas here.
And suddenly, it was bittersweet. Much like the lemons. On their own they were hard to take, your face screwed up when you bit into it, they were so sour…
But in accompaniment, with something else, like prawns… with a martini… or with honey… somehow it tasted a lot better.
It was great, even desirable.
Much like this last Christmas.
It wasn’t the last, but it would be the last there.
I could take it though. I could take it, because I still took with me all the memories of being there, celebrating Christmas after Christmas with my family and friends, all throughout the years.
Most importantly, I was taking the most important thing with me.
As if on cue, INXS’s ‘Don’t Change’ came on the radio, and I had to smile.
If only there were no change. Things would be so easy, with everything staying the same, static, and with no room to move.
But that’s the point of life you see. To grow. To evolve.
There MUST be change.
So I took the lemons to the table, and we enjoyed them in the best prawn feast ever.
It has taken me all this time, but finally, the presents are all wrapped.
(Except for Santa’s presents… and except for the presents for people that we WON’T see on Christmas day, but shhh).
I am so tired. I am on holidays, kinda, and yet I’ve been the busiest I’ve been in a while.
Making gingerbread, doing a huge grocery shop, washing washing washing, OH THE WASHING!
Then tonight, I had to wrap baby girl’s presents… but I had to wait ’til she was asleep, and even then I went to our bedroom where Hubbie was sleeping, so the sounds of paper cutting and sticky tape tearing (it’s so bloody noisy!) was as far removed from her as possible.
I won’t philosophise about how I got here, and why I didn’t get here earlier…
That’s for another day. Another blog post.
For now, I am so exhausted I could almost wrap myself up in Christmas paper and tuck myself under the tree.
It was probably a good thing that baby girl walked out the school gate, then told me she’d left her jacket in her classroom.
“Well you better go get it, we won’t be back ’til next year!”
This meant we had to go back into the school, and then I happened across her teacher. It was perfect timing. Even though restrictions at school had also eased like everything else, and parents were allowed back into the school if necessary… they preferred to keep as many of us out on the other side of the gates as possible.
This meant no classroom visits, and no face-to-face teacher talks.
We had a brief talk. We hadn’t chatted like that for a while. She told me her plans for next year… long service leave, so she wouldn’t be back, not immediately anyway. We laughed. She told me she had enjoyed getting to know baby girl this year, even though almost half the year had been lost. It had left them with a bittersweet feeling.
They had only gotten used to each other, and it was all over.
“Oh, and she’s funny!” She told me. I listened eagerly.
“The other day when she brought in my present, she said to me, ‘just you wait Ms, oh my God, you are going to be overcome when you see this present!”
I laughed out loud. It sounded just like her. I loved getting this window into her world at school, a world that we need to literally pry out of her at dinner time, or have to wait until she is ‘in the mood’ to be privy to a little bit of.
I was relieved. She was acting at school, just like she did with us at home.