I spent New Year’s Eve with my little misters in Brisbane. We treated ourselves to a stay in a fancy hotel, swam in the pool, drank from pretty glasses and had a yummy dinner. Afterwards, we headed down to the river to watch the early fireworks.
It was incredibly busy and as we waited patiently for the light show to begin, I noticed the hundreds, if not thousands of families all doing the same. Each had their own little spot with rugs and chairs and snacks. Everyone was smiling. It was nice.
As I sat there “people watching”, something else struck me. The park was filled with people from a mass of different backgrounds. I tried to think of a time when I’d seen so many different family structures and cultures together, happy, sharing a wonderful time all together. I couldn’t. It kind of amazed me.
Sitting to our right was a sweet family from Fiji. They had moved to Brisbane a few years back and I watched as they sat in a circle, eating ice creams and laughing at the antics of the little ones. They took turns cuddling a gorgeous new addition to the family and their smiles were contagious.
In front of us sat a family of Middle Eastern origin (pardon my ignorance). There was a mother and father, an older brother, middle sister and little brother. They found a spare patch of grass and set down a beautiful burgundy and cream blanket. Each took their shoes off and neatly placed them around the outside of the blanket and sat down. The father and older brother sat at the front of the mat while the mother, sister and little brother sat behind. They were talking animatedly and laughing. I watched the cheeky little boy getting into mischief and although I couldn’t understand their language, I knew the mother was telling her little mister to tone it down (she gave the “mum look” – we all know it!). They shared fruit and breads, with the parents slicing pieces for their children. I wished my misters had been happy sharing fruit and bread instead of demanding ice cream and juice.
To our left was a young Maori family – mum, dad and the most handsome little mister who looked to have just started walking. I listened as they pointed out sights around the park for their sweet boy to discover. The looks on their faces as they gazed at their son was so precious. I watched as they struggled to take a family photo and offered to take a pic of the three of them. They were a beautiful family.
That’s where we live. That’s our country. We are filled with different nationalities and customs and people and dreams. For the most part, we embrace them all. It’s what makes us, Aussies, so great.
We value our history and treasure our past. We celebrate victories that aren’t even our own and we encourage and commiserate as one when the going gets tough. We band together in the worst of times and are joyous at the best.
We’re peaceful. We’re smiling. We say hi to strangers and help each other out in times of need. We’re giving and loving and passionate. We’re grateful for our country and share immense pride and gratitude to those who have fought and continue to fight to protect it and us. We fight for what we believe in and stand up for what’s right.
Sure, there are people out there who aren’t any of these things but today, I don’t acknowledge them. Today I recognise the rest of us, the people that make this place, our place, the most wonderful place. From city to surf, from mountains to the outback, oceans to snow, caravans to mansions and everything and everyone in between. We are so lucky.
I will remember that New Year’s eve for a long time to come. I will remember my boys and I sharing a celebration with strangers from all walks of life, and being so overjoyed.
Happy Australia Day everyone.