I find that when I pen these pieces I ruminate on my divergent experiences between my Australian homeland and my adopted home of New York. I suppose that this is because it’s the lens through which I view and examine my life, the periphery all fuzzy with memories of gumtrees and salt water. And lurking somewhere behind that, it’s a question: will I ever feel truly at home in either country, now that I have come to love both?
The experience of Christmas in Australia is surreal to remember, now that I live in a place where snow is an actual possibility. I recall my mother’s annual anxiety over whether it would be a 27 degree day (that’s 80 fahrenheit) or a 40 degree day (104 fahrenheit!), and whether to host Christmas inside in the A/C or outside in the sunshine. Regardless of the number on the mercury, it’s always hot. That means almost no hot food - it’s platters of chilled seafood, cold roast chicken, salads with mango and lime, frosty beers, and icy chardonnay. After lunch my sister and I would peel off our sundresses, don our cozzies (uh, that’s Aussie for swimsuit), and jump in the pool, emerging hours later with more freckles and fewer worries.
We watched all the American Christmas movies and fell in love with the idea of a white Christmas - of simply seeing, touching snow. There are, to my knowledge, no Australian Christmas movies (though there is a truly horrific song about six white kangaroos pulling Santa’s sleigh). Like so much of our culture, so far away from the rest of the world, we are thoroughly influenced by our American and English cousins when it comes to the holidays. And so, now that I live in New York, I am lucky enough to experience those made for TV moments, like last week's snowfall, and feel as though I’m living in my childhood dreams.
While I am utterly enamored of American Christmas, of pinecones and red velvet bows and snow flurries, it is always tinged with the sadness of being so far from friends and family. After many years far from home, you never get used to birthdays, anniversaries and holidays celebrated via video calls. But you manage. And it makes the times that you do spend together all that more special.
This year, many of you are spending the holidays separated from your loved ones; missing your mum’s hugs, your dad’s mulled wine, your sister’s eye-rolls, your family dog’s kisses. In a difficult year, this is the bitter cherry on top of the cake. But the beautiful thing is that nothing lasts, not even 2020. Next year, we will be even more grateful for simple things like hugs, or sitting down to eat with our families. We will board planes and hold hands and see each others’ maskless smiles again.
As we wrap up this year, I want to say thank you for supporting Common Era. Because of you, we have raised over $8,000 for charity this year and provided 2,500 meals to hungry families during the pandemic. I hope that in 2021 we can raise even more money and do more good. I would like to finish this letter by mentioning some of the charities we have supported this year and asking you humbly to give, if you are able, to these worthy causes:
Thank you, and Merry Christmas,