Christmas is a time for family, and this year we were really lucky to have both of our families together in one place to share in Quinn’s first Christmas. A special moment considering that most of my family live in Perth, Australia.
It was a mild mid-December evening and it had just turned 8.15pm. But rather than getting Quinn ready for bed as we normally would be, she was getting dressed and venturing out. Quinn was about to meet her grandparents and two aunties for the first time, not that they, or she knew it.
We were surprising my parents and two sisters who were travelling over from Perth, Australia where they have lived for almost exactly five years now. Their flight had been delayed by a few hours and because of this they weren’t expecting us to be there waiting at arrivals.
It had been a little over a year since I’d last seen my family. Sian and I were married in the September of 2014 and my family spent nearly a month with us then and it’s crazy to think about how much has happened in the time we’d since spent apart.
It was actually on Christmas Day in 2014 when we broke the news to both of our families that we were expecting a baby. We spent the day with Sian’s family, and after handing out the presents on Christmas morning we gave them all one last gift, a Christmas card to Grandparents, Uncles and Aunties. Some got it quicker than others and I don’t think anyone was expecting it, but they were all very happy. My favourite reaction was Sian’s brother Liam who said nothing because he assumed we’d bought him the wrong card in error.
We did the same with my sister Michelle before calling my family in Australia over Skype. We told my parents and sisters the same way, but by showing them their cards on Skype. It was really nice to be able to share that moment with them and see their reaction even though we weren’t in the same place.
And so after an 11 and a bit month wait they were about to meet their granddaughter and niece for the very first time. Quinn to her credit didn’t seem bothered about not being in bed, indeed she seemed to be fascinated by her new surroundings, and after a short wait she was there sitting on the barrier as my family walked out. They say a picture says a thousand words, and they certainly say them better than I can, so I’ve used my favourite pictures to help tell the story of this and the other moments of my family’s visit.
It was lovely to see them again, and to see their reaction to meeting Quinn, and hers! By the time we got home Quinn had decided that rather than go to bed she’d stay up and play, which she did till 2am.
Over the next few days and weeks my parents and sisters got to spend some quality time with Quinn…
We spent Christmas day at Sian’s parent’s, who kindly hosted everyone allowing us to all be together. Seating 18 people for dinner was tricky but we squeezed in, using garden tables and borrowed chairs, and enjoyed a lovely day and a yummy Christmas dinner thanks to Sian’s mum Lisa.. Before spending the evening at my sisters opening more presents and playing more games… Quinn loved ‘Heads up’. As you’d probably imagine Quinn was spoiled with presents by all of our friends and family, thank you to everyone for thinking of her she had lots of fun unwrapping them all…
Of course it wasn’t just about my family, being back at ‘home’ for Christmas meant that we were also able to spend some extended quality time with Sian’s family…
The timing of my parents visit was perfect, Quinn was smiling and talking away and even rolled over for the first time the day before they went home to Perth.
The saying goes, you can’t choose your family… It’s true, but you can choose how you are as a family.
I don’t believe any family is perfect, mine definitely isn’t. There have been times when we haven’t spoken as regularly as we should have, when we haven’t always agreed and got on. I’ve definitely been guilty of not making as much effort or showing as much interest as I should have and I think all of us have a times have failed to treat and talk to each other in ways we’d be proud of. I think that it’s often too easy to be lazy, and not be our best with family because we know they’ll always be there. But surely it should be the other way round? Rather than neglect or take for granted the people that are closest to us, they should have more of our time and effort than anyone else.
Having Quinn has definitely made me better appreciate how much my parents did for me, all the years they looked after and brought me up that I can’t remember and how much of that I take for granted. It makes me a little sad to think that Quinn will not remember all the moments that we’ve had and are having now, she’s such a happy baby, laughing and giggling all the time, but she won’t remember when she grows up. But I will, and I’m sure my parents remember those moments with me and my sisters, it’s strange to think that those memories will be so one sided? When I think about brothers and sisters for Quinn I think about my sisters and how important they have been in shaping who I am, having three sisters is often something I’ve told people, not just to make them feel sympathy for me but also because I’m proud of them in the same way I am of Sian and Quinn.
Maybe you don’t choose your family, but you do in some way have some say in the families you join and in Sian’s family I couldn’t have wished for anything more. They have always been great to me, and it’s nice to finally have some brothers!! and of course another sister! I’ve said before but I didn’t realise the impact that Quinn would have on the people around us; I didn’t anticipate the love they could feel for her, particulary when it comes to family. Seeing how all of our families are with her gives me a greater appreciation of what family means and how lucky we are to everyone of them in ours and Quinn’s life.
Having family in another country isn’t a barrier to this, we live in a world where it really isn’t hard to stay in touch, and that’s said by someone who is very lazy at replying to messages (to everyone!!). It’s made easy by facebook, and whatsapp and Skype which we use regularly to keep in touch with my family. Not so long ago to share a picture of Quinn with family on the other side of the world we would have had to take a picture, had it printed out, scan it into a computer and send it via email. Now we can share every moment of her day within seconds, so much so that most of the time it really doesn’t feel like my family are all that far away.
Obviously not physically being in the same place is not always the same, but because of that when my family are here it focuses the importance of the time so that it isn’t taken for granted. Yes we still sit there on our phones some of the time, but I definitely feel like we appreciate that time more because we know it will be a little while until the next time.
Having all of my family together laughing and joking is my favourite thing, and saying goodbye is always the worst part. But this time it was made easier knowing we will be going to visit them in Australia in just a few months’ time. Less of a goodbye and more of a ‘to be continued’…
Congratulations to our friends…
Finally I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate some of our friends… A little over a week ago Quinn’s Godmother Catherine gave birth to her own little girl Izzy who is absolutely beautiful. I’m so looking forward to seeing all the adventures of the Quizzy Rascals get up to and wetting Izzy’s head with Mark!
And massive congrats to Mark and Helen who got engaged over Christmas. Quinn was very disappointed as she loves Mark but I’m sure she’ll get over it, some day…