As I wrap gifts, singing along with my somewhat cheesy Christmas playlist, I can’t help but wonder, as I do every year, “Will these presents make it safely to Melbourne?” Then I remember that this will be the tenth year I have tempted customs officers to search a suitcase full of wrapped presents, and likely the tenth year of no issues. And I am sure Mum will have spare paper if I need to re-wrap. Next song, a piano chord, followed by a pause – and I know it’s Tim Minchin, I smile wistfully and start counting the days left before I get on the plane.
The first time I heard ‘Drinking White Wine in the Sun’ I wondered how Tim was able to see straight into my heart. The uncanny ability for an artist to reveal to me my own soul is breathtaking. And I love Tim Minchin. This song always makes me think; and feel – sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, maybe a little of both.
Tim’s lyrics remind me of our universal need for human connection and love. And how that need holds us fast in the grip of nostalgia, and an ever-present ache for home. Whether you are living ten thousand miles, or ten minutes from home, can the longing, the anticipated comfort of being home and being one with family, be part of the collective unconscious that binds us all in pagan ritual no matter our beliefs?
Of course, there’s the Australian connection. Carving out a life and a career in the US provides boundless opportunities, but it means being a long way from home. Like Tim, I am such a long way from home – eight thousand, nine hundred and eighty-six miles to be exact.
My father once lamented that we’d been raised without spirituality. My analytical mind wants to, and does agree with Tim when he says tenacity of an idea alone does not make it worthy. Yet there is some part of me that is searching, or yearning, for faith, for trust, in at least the intentions, that underlie ancient wisdom.
Daddy, just so you know, although we were raised without religion, we were not raised without spirituality. The beauty of the wide sky, sunlight, starlight, mysteries of the cosmos – you inspired in us a spirit of wonder. Perhaps you wish I had chosen to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Sagan, and Fermi, and unravel the paradox. Perhaps it is me that wishes I’d had the courage. And did I mention the grounded-ness that you instilled in us at the same time? The simple, yet sacred mystery of growing plants, growing food, talking to the trees and the cycle of life witnessed in your garden?
In less than two weeks now, I will be there. Standing in the kitchen with Mum, melting an unholy amount of butter for the Christmas Eve ritual making of hedgehog, pouring Pascall’s columbines in their iridescent, blue and pink wrappers into a candy bowl, and washing and drying the crystal, champagne flutes. No doubt, we’ll have ‘Carols by Candlelight’ on television and I won’t recognize any of the celebrities under 40, because I have been away so long now.
Just as the mysteries of the cosmos cannot be solved, neither can my middle-aged need for being home for Christmas. In years gone by, this time of year has been a reminder of what I don’t have, what hasn’t ‘worked out’ for me. This year, I am going home to play one role. And just like Tim tells his jetlagged, baby girl, ‘when you’re 21 or 31’ – and I am sure he meant too, even when you’re 46 – there will be nothing, and I mean nothing, like being home with the people that love you and make you feel safe in this world.
Engineer by day, Carla Santamaria has been exploring creative writing since her teens, and has recently ventured into the blogging world with Magenta Blues. Magenta Blues seeks to inspire ordinary joy by sharing stories and ideas that provoke a sense of human connectedness. In a fast-paced world, quiet moments of reflection and satisfaction with life have become all too elusive. Carla lives and works in Texas, but her heart and mind are never too far from her home in Melbourne, Australia.