Christmas time holds significance to people all around the world. There are those who say it is all about the kids. There are those who take time to remember the religious aspect. There are those who simply believe in the magic. For me it’s a time for family, and this year I decided to spend time with the family that I hadn’t seen in years. I booked a long overdue trip to Australia to see my brothers. It is hard for me to put into words how special this trip really was; a family reunion that had been in the making for over a decade.
The last time my brothers and I were in the same room together was fourteen years ago, when I was six. I had met my sister-in-law Aiko only once, and had never met my two year old nephew Charlie, or four month old niece Emiko. As you can probably imagine, my excitement for this trip was through the roof.
I finished uni on the 20th December, went straight to Heathrow airport that evening, and was on the next flight to Australia by 9pm that night. 24 hours later and I had landed in Sydney, reunited with my big brother Ben. After four years apart, seeing Ben again was both incredibly exciting and bizarre. Waiting at baggage claim to get my suitcase for what felt like hours was so unbelievably frustrating, knowing that he was waiting for me on the other side. After what felt like an eternity, I made it out of security and found him waiting at the gate, a reunion I had been looking forward to for months.
I got absolutely spoilt by Ben during a whirlwind two days in Sydney. Between the jet lag and the excitement, everything we did seems like a blur now, but I remember it involved a lot of gin, and by the time Christmas Eve came the two of us were at Sydney airport again ready to board a flight to Adelaide to see the rest of the family.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely dreadful with children – by this point it has become a bit of a running joke – so all I can say is my nerves to meet my niece and nephew were serious. I was an absolute wreck going through Adelaide airport, over-analysing all possible scenarios, but all of that completely disappeared as soon as I left the gate and saw my oldest brother James and my nephew Charlie waiting for us. After literally running through the crowd to get to them, and a lot of hugs later, I had met my little nephew, picked him up and refused to put him down again; I know that moment will be a memory I treasure for the rest of my life.
After fourteen years apart, my brothers and I were all once again in the same place at the same time, and it’s safe to say I was more than a bit overwhelmed by it all. The four of us had breakfast at a local cafe, where I kept inexplicably bursting into tears, and after my adventurous breakfast of fruit toast (genuinely not joking, that is adventurous by my standards), and a quick stop at a chocolate shop, we were on our way back home. This was where I met the newest addition to the Padley family, my gorgeous baby niece Emiko, along with my sister-in-law Aiko. The whole family was back together, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Christmas Day itself was probably the best of my life. Not only was I back with my family, I was also in the blazing hot Australian sun (I can’t emphasize blazing enough… as in…. sunburn….) playing games, eating food, and making memories every day. Getting to know my sister-in-law properly and bonding over our joint love of cheese and The Inbetweeners was amazing, spending precious time with James and Ben again was more special than I ever could have hoped, but the real magic of the trip came from getting to know Charlie and Emi. Kids really are the most special thing in the world, and it has always been painful for me that I would not get to be there to watch them grow up, so the time that I did manage to have with them was more precious than I can ever explain.
I have never felt luckier in my life than I did over Christmas this year. My heart has never felt so full of love, and every moment that I spent with my family is a moment I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. Today is exactly a month since I met Charlie and Emi, and I am already desperate to see them again. I don’t know when I will next make it over there but one thing is for certain; it won’t be another fourteen years.