Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. – Dr. Seuss
As the days on the advent calender draw closer to the 25th, I am preparing myself for my first Christmas away from home. Although it’s a strange feeling being away from home this time of year, I have fully embraced my new Canadian Christmas surroundings. Anybody living away from home on the other side of the world to their family, will know its not easy being separated from all your nearest and dearest at this time of year. But in saying that, I am finding myself in a position where I never thought possible. I have grown into a person who is now capable of being independent, away from the comfort zone of home + in another country at that. All the endless life experiences and memories I am building now will stay with me forever + if in my life I spend a handful of Christmas’ away from home in return for these memories I am making, I am more than happy to do so. Like I said in my previous posts my time in Canada is about my book of life, my book of memories.
What I have done is stepped outside the cosy comfort zone of being the baby of the family, where I was nestled snuggly as the last one at home. Being the youngest of six, I had the joy of re-living Christmas every year as my 5 year old self. Also being the youngest of 6 means that my house was anything but quiet. Christmas morning would start as early as 5am – yes I am 23 years old. The biggest notable child in my family is my brother Stewy, without a doubt he is the fun of the family. He brings the Christmas cheer to the next level – Elf style, where all the joking aside, he is the maker of some of our most memorable memories. This year I am sad to say I won’t be part of the memories of Stewy being a dad for the first year, but they have made their little girl Freya a big part of my life + her first Christmas.
#1 – Surround yourself with memories of home. Without my family I would be lost, my sister in law Louise has made it so much easier the fact that I have an almost 3 month old niece that I haven’t met – yet I feel so close to their little family. This weekend I received the most special package from Stewy, Louise + Freya. A bundle of gifts, photos of the little princess + most special a Christmas decoration with a tiny little hand print, a hand print for my tree and a hand print on my heart. This decoration will forever be a tradition on my tree.
#2 – Surround yourself with food from home. One of the biggest comforts when your away from home if food. Not just because I’m a girl + have
abnormal general chocolate cravings, but because food holds much more than a taste. Each bite brings back similarities of home + the Irish goodness, they just don’t make cadbury’s the same here. Thankfully I have the best mother in the world + she packed up a suitcase that my brother Chris brought over with all the essentials to make my Christmas perfect in Canada- insert selection boxes, tins of biscuits, shortbread Christmas tree cookies .This week Gary also received a package from home – enclosed was his cherished mince pies. All 6 he rationed out perfectly for himself, lucky for him I don’t eat mince pies.
#3 – Surround yourself with as many new experiences as possible. Twice before I had the pleasure of visiting two Christmas markets, one in Italy + one in Poland, both hold such wonderful memories with my sister Emma. This year was a new memory + experience as Gary and I bundled up to attempt the freezing cold Christmas Markets in Toronto. As we wandered hand in hand around the bustling streets of the distillery district + snow began to fall on our noses, I took a moment to embrace my surroundings + remind myself that this was one of those moments that I will be happy to talk about in years to come.
#4 Surround yourself with family + friends. Although I don’t have my blood relatives here I am happy to say that I have friends who I now consider family. Mainly I am so thankful for having my friend Lisa, although she doesn’t live in Canada she does live 8 hours away in NYC. So this Christmas Gary and I have the pleasure of joining Lisa + her wonderful family for Christmas. Not only have they showed me the kindness + generosity that only a family would offer but they have given me the opportunity to make my first Christmas away from home a very special one.
Now as I look at my calender I don’t look at how many days it is until the 25th instead I look at how many days it is until the 20th, because on that day Gary and I will pack up a car, with Christmas jumpers at the ready and start our first road trip to NYC to greet Lisa + her family, so together we can create the next chapter of memories for my book.