I hope while reading this blog you and your family are well and enjoying the holiday season! Every year as I sit down to write this letter I always think “I can’t believe another year has passed – I feel like I just write last year’s Christmas letter” – time really is flying!
As a reader of my blog, you probably know that I’ve spent the last year all over the place, starting and finishing the year in America, and living in 3 Australian states in between. I rung in the new year with friends in Nashville, TN, and then flew home to Australia a few days into January, where I worked with a number of great families through until the end of July, when I packed up and moved to America for another year. After spending 3 months here last year I knew I wanted to come back, and was lucky enough to match with an amazing host family, and have now been living 20 minutes out of Boston for the last 4 months. It feels like only yesterday that I boarded that plane in Australia bound for New York, and the last 5 months have really flown by.
In the time I’ve been in the US, I’ve already taken some trips – to Connecticut, Nashville and New York City, as well as a weekend roadtrip to see some Hanson concerts. I managed to see Taylor Swift, Colbie Callait and Hanson – my 3 favourite singers/bands of all time – in the span of 6 week. I spent the Thanksgiving weekend in New York City with friends and saw 3 Broadway shows.
I’ve made some amazing friends, and with my two best friends here, Christina from Austria, and Maria from Sweden, there is always something fun happening. Apart from our recent New York City trip, we have explored nearly every mall, shopping centre and Walmart in the area (spending up to 2 and a half hours in Walmart looking and laughing at all the weird and wonderful things America has to offer!) and have made ourselves at home at the local Ninety-Nine Restaurant, which we were frequenting up to 3 times a week, until we realized that our bank balances were shrinking and our waistlines were growing! The three of us also joined the local YMCA, where they have crazy bikes where you can race each other, and chase dragons! Christina and I also got season passes to the Six Flags theme park, about 2 hours from here, and have already been 3 times this year, and plan on going as many times next year as well when it opens in April!
I finished a full year of uni this year, and passed all 7 subjects I took, which I am very proud of. I have enrolled for next year, and welcome the challenge of working full-time here with the kids, as well as juggling study and social time. Keeping busy helps the time pass and helps me not become too homesick.
It is now December (duh!) and I hoping that winter passes quickly. We have had some strange weather already – a snowstorm in October before Halloween that knocked out power to a lot of our friends’ houses in neighboring towns for up to 5 days, and then warm 19 degree days in late November, followed by cool 4 degree days. We haven’t had any more snow since the storm in October, and although I would have liked a White Christmas, I am happy for the snow (and cold weather) to stay away as long as possible! Sitting here on Christmas day, I can report that we have had some flurries this morning, making Christmas morning in Boston that little more special.
I spent Thanksgiving day with my host family and their friends, where we ate a traditional dinner with an 18 pound turkey (!!) and all the trimmings, and then I caught the midnight bus to New York City with my friends, which is a story in itself. I have just spent Christmas morning here in Boston with my host family, in just a few hours I am flying with Christina to Orlando for a weeks of well-earned vacation in a (hopefully) warm and fun spot – we have plans for Disneyworld, Sea World, a few day trips and New Year’s Eve at the Harry Potter theme park at Universal, before flying home on New Year’s Day.
I already have concert tickets for Kelly Clarkson and Andy Grammer in January and February, and have plans to take a few long weekend trips with my friends – hopefully making it to Quebec City, Chicago, Philly, New Jersey, Washington DC, Toronto and maybe even Oklahoma, just for fun!
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with some amazing kids this year, who have taught me so much. I spent 4 weeks in the summer living and working with the Braid family on their farm in country NSW, where I witnessed their baby Fraser crawl for the first time, and embedded a great love of Taylor Swift into their 4 year old daughter Edwina. They welcomed me with open arms, and I spent a lot of time at the local pool with the kids keeping cool, saw my first red-bellied black snake (eek!) and learnt what life was like without mobile phone service or ADSL internet! That sure was eye opening! I spent time on Kangaroo Island, off SA, looking after a little newborn. I spent 8 weeks working with a family who, although they had gorgeous children, were really hard work, and made me really appreciate the other families I had worked for in the past. I then spent 8 weeks with another amazing family, who took me in knowing I would only be there 8 weeks, and I wrangled their 4 girls in the middle of a house move, and spent some amazingly fun times with their 2 year old, Violet, who I became very fond of. Last but definitely not least, I’ve spent the last 4 months keeping up with my crazy, loud, loving host children here in Boston. Master 5 and Miss 3 amaze me every day, and I am excited to see them learn and grow over the next 8 months!
I have learnt a lot about myself this year, and have discovered how strong I really am. Being away from home hasn’t been a walk in the park, and I have already missed a lot being here. My little sister Jazmin got married in October, which I regret missing, and the same weekend my Grandad Earle passed away. My little brother Matthew, who is now 2 and a half, is talking in full sentences, and I miss him like crazy. My baby sister Amy has moved to Melbourne, and I can’t wait to get back to Australia so we can finally live in the same country.
I am thankful for my family, who always support my crazy dreams and wandering ways. Every year I am more and more appreciative of my mum – to think that at 27, the age I am now, she had 2 little girls to care for, as well as herself. She is an amazing woman and I am so thankful that she is my mum! I am thankful also for my closest friends, though, no matter how far away I am in distance, are always ready and happy to talk and keep in touch. Most importantly, I am thankful that I am loved in a crazy crazy way, and that I have the ability to love back.
And I am thankful to God, who without Him, we wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate Christmas. Who loves us, faults and all. Who knows what is best for us, and that is, that he sent Christ at Christmas, to save us.
Merry Christmas. I hope 2012 is a wonderful year for you and your family.