Christmas, like pretty much everything else, feels a lot mellower over here. Perhaps it’s because it falls mid-summer rather than mid-winter, so we’re all busy enjoying ourselves outdoors rather than clinging desperately onto the tiny glimmer of warmth and sparkle that tinsel and fairy lights can provide in the depths of a dark British winter.
Whatever the reason, this year feels like we are building a Christmas that fits our life, rather building our life around Christmas. It feels like it might be fun. Maybe even relaxing…
I really hope so. Recently I think we’ve all been feeling like our brains are being stretched in a few too many different directions at once.
New city! New job! New people! New car! New house! New neighbourhood! New currency! Exercise! Housework! Repairs! Decorating! Cooking! Unpacking! Swimming lessons! Pre-kinder! Postcards! Paperwork! Phone calls!
It has mainly – for all three of us – been a very positive thing.
I feel like all my senses have been really woken up, and it’s a bit like being fifteen again. I’m falling in love a dozen times a day. With the clouds, and the crispness of the air. With the sweetness of the lemons from the tree in our garden, and the fresh pop of the peas from the local grocery store. With the handmade wooden jewellery in the stalls at Salamanca. With my comfy sandals. With DorkySon’s tanned little neck. With a friendly bus driver wearing a Santa hat, and with every nice glass of wine, and with the beautiful melodic whistle of the bird that wakes me up every morning.
I love our new house. Goodness, I love this house. It feels like it has always been ours. We are warming the walls, and stroking the skirting boards, and filling every inch of it with as much colour and care and character as we possibly can.
And I am so happy to be living back by the water. We don’t have a clear river view from the house, but if I stand on my tiptoes in the guest room, I can usually see the top of a mast or two, and that’s enough. You don’t have to see the water to know that it’s there. DorkySon and I walk along the shore to nursery twice a week. On hot days we dip our toes in the waves. And in the centre of the city, down at the docks, there is always something happening – a cruise ship, or a kayak, or a sailing class. A tall ship, a fishing punt, or a Sea Shepherd. It is always alive and constantly moving.
There is so much to love here, and we are still at that stage of trying to absorb it all. We need to keep reminding ourselves that this is life now, not a holiday, and there is no need to cram it all in to our first few months.
There is a sweet little blackbird that spends most of every day hopping around our garden, poking away in the soil for worms, and sheltering from the sun in the branches of our cherry tree. Every night he hops up onto the wires and watches the sunset. He really does. DorkyDad and I joke about it, say that he is a wee poser, trying to sneak into one of the many photos that I take as I dash from window to window, trying desperately but failing miserably to capture something of the magic light.
We joke, but we know that we need to follow that wee bird’s example, and take a little time for ourselves at the end of every day. We are so busy right now – so much in the moment, because the moments are so good, and because there are still so many things on the to-do list – that we are not taking time to stop and breathe.
Making time to reflect is something that’s really important to me. If there’s time to write then that’s even better – it has always been how I’ve processed my thoughts and documented new experiences.
I know that both the Dorky Boys are happier when they have down time too. Time to just hang out. To sit and be.
One night last week, DorkyDad came home from work. DorkySon had already eaten his dinner. We sat out on our deck in the warm air, DorkySon crammed blueberries into his mouth and ran off to play with his fire truck on the grass. DorkyDad and I sat at the table, crunching pistachios and sipping a couple of cold beers. We turned our faces to the sun and exhaled slowly, for what felt like the first time in weeks.
We need to let ourselves have more of those moments. More pausing and appreciating, less rushing around. This – Tasmania – is a calm place and we need to let that energy wash over us. It will allow us to become calm people again.
How odd that the holiday which in the UK was the most rushed – the most hectic and frantic and stressful – may turn out to be quite the opposite here.
We are looking forward to two weeks of not very much at all.
Our world has – truly – been turned upside down.