I hope everyone had a great festive season. I had a good time, but it was also quite physically and emotionally exhausting. A string of late nights, poor sleep, and very early mornings all started to take its toll by the fourth day and it was nice to get back late last night and sleep in my own bed. Except for my two little nephews, I was the only non-smoker around for the four days, and although they tried to be considerate and none of them smoke indoors or around the kids, it was kind of hard to get away from the constant fug of cigarette smoke. Nicotine Fest 2005.
I'm trying to sort out my feelings about the trip, and it isn't easy, so this might waffle a bit.
I did have a good time, it was nice spending time with my sisters and her family. My two little nephews are now 7 and 11 years old, and are really nice kids. Funny, sweet and thoughtfull. It was lovely watching Christmas through their eyes, and also really nice to see how appreciative and gratefull they were. It was also really nice to catch up with my brother-in-law's brother and his boyfriend. Scott just turned 30 and is about to celebrate his 10 year anniversary with his partner Matt, and it was nice to see that they were both happy and well.
I had forgotten how pretty a town Ballarat is. Much of its history as a gold rush town has survived intact in the form of wonderful architecture, and even the tree-lined suburban streets are wide enough to to take a fair sized marching band. I tried to get some time to wander the city and take photos of some of the buildings, but time and family obligations made it too hard. Many of the streets are lined with wonderful timber Federation era (or earlier) timber houses with ornate iron lace balconies and verandahs.
Time spent with my sisters was both good and also difficult, pretty much as I expected it to be. My oldest sister's physical condition has deteriorated quite a bit (she suffered a major stroke about 4 years ago), and along with that she has lost much of her motivation to try and do things for herself and has become more frustrated and bitter. On the plus side (because I don't want to give the impression that it was all bad), the three of us did have some nice times times hanging out together.
Of course it's more complex than I can explain here, and I think that I should perhaps consider their privacy and not go into too much intimate detail. After a frank discussion with my sister on the way to the airport I felt a little more comfortable about my perception that I'm not physically helping as much as I could be and that the situation is rough on her. It's one of the more in depth discussions we've had on the subject, and it was nice to know that that isn't how she feels about it and that there is no resentment.
Whew, I didn't mean to get that heavy. Anyhoo, Christmas lunch was chaotic and fun. The guests included a couple of people who didn't have family to spend the day with, and in the afternoon the extended group of us played board games and watched the kids play with their new toys. Lunch kind of dribbled into dinner and became a day long eat-fest. It was a fun day. I didn't do so well in the Christmas loot department, received a few things I already had and some other things I would never buy for myself, but that wasn't important to me. It was more fun to see that everyone liked what I had bought them, and good to spend time with them.
Oh, and on the way back from the airport I was approached by a guy that lives in my neighbourhood, and who I often see around and have flirted with a bit in the past, to share a cab. We had a nice long chat and even shared a kiss goodbye at the end of the cab ride. Slightly surreal, but fun!
I hope you all had a great day!