Back in November the approach of my first Christmas in Australia came with mixed feelings. From one hand it was new and exciting, a truly unique experience. On the other hand just the thought of being so far away from home gave me loads of heartache. Although I have been living abroad for many years in different countries, until now Christmas was always the time when I would return home and reunite with my/our family. But this time we were in Australia and were not going anywhere. Being under the sun, and wearing bikinis already in November sounded fun but did not feel much Christmas-like. In fact it felt rather odd and out of place. Summer was heating up by the minute, and although you could notice more and more signs of the happy season everywhere, the Christmas spirit was undoubtedly the strongest during the evenings in the city, when the decorations would show and shine more, and in the shopping centres, which were filled with jingle bells tunes, gorgeous shop windows and the buzzing of people hunting presents for their loved ones.
Whenever the coming atmosphere of holidays touched me – while hearing Christmas songs or choosing postcards and presents – a lonely tear rolled down my face. These were the moments when I felt the most homesick ever, when I could not help but wonder what I would be doing now if we would be in Budapest: organizing the next secret Santa party at our place with our friends, discovering what was new at the Vörösmarty square Christmas market with my mum, burn calories with ice-skating, drinking some mulled wine at our favourite café, enjoying (un)expected visits from my Dad who pops in our place because he is nearby, enjoying the warmth of the kitchen from baking gingerbread while outside is cold, planning the family Christmas Eve dinner menu and making it happen, baking zserbó with handmade apricot jam that my aunt preserved last summer, going on big walks at Normafa (with a bit of luck in snow), decorating our place and deciding on what Christmas tree to set up this year, but first and foremost being physically close to our loved ones, or at least many of them, when the Christmas bells ring on the Eve of the 24th.
But instead of thinking about all this I just tried to forget about Christmas… however soon I realized that with this I only entered a phase of denial; a denial of having Christmas in Australia, as if, if I did not think about it, it would not even happen. But days were running fast, and I felt that I needed a change of perspective; a perspective, which gives me hope, anticipation and belief to have a happy Christmas. This was the time when I decided to write the advent diary, which was a great experience and a challenge at the same time – since I never blogged continuously for 25 days (OK there were two days that I posted a bit late, but still). Writing about the daily joys of advent helped me focusing on beauties of our lives and made me realize that I had to find Christmas within my heart. As I wrote it on the 24th day of the advent diary here: Christmas time is about finding peace within yourself, reflecting the year behind you, counting your blessings, learning from your mistakes, dreaming new dreams, bringing back magic to your life! Then somehow everything fell into place. It was also a special Christmas for us with André, a first one as a husband and wife and a first one together in Australia, which we still planned carefully and made memorable with following a bit of Hungarian, Maltese, Australian and the traditions of our own. And as far as celebrating with family and friends goes, we still managed pretty well. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day via Skype we opened presents together, were part of the family lunches and even group photos, shared good talks and great laughs. And about returning home? By being in the little family of ours, no matter wherever we were, in each other’s heart we found home. And that is the biggest present on any day of the year.