About four weeks ago, I explained to my two boys that, this year, we’d be having two Christmases – one at our friends’ place in Melbourne and, because we couldn’t fit all the presents in our car (what with the two kids, one dog and several bags), another Christmas when we got home.
“Three Christmases,” commented my ever-optimistic youngest, mini-CBRbound. “Why three?” I asked. “Don’t forget ‘container Christmas’,” he responded, “when all our stuff turns up.” So, three it was, and last week was container Christmas, when all the things we’d waved off from Denmark in October finally found their way back to us in Canberra.
So that’s the good news. We now have more than five sets of clothes each, the kids have greeted once ‘boring’ toys with the same zeal as when they were new, and the dog has his favourite blanket back, to drag all over the house and settle down on wherever he likes. Oh and the kids have bikes. Glorious, freedom-granting, energy-sapping, shiny, disinfectant-smelling bikes.
The house we were rattling around in last week, with some borrowed furniture and a few donated appliances, now feels like a home, with sofas, a dining table and a proper desk for the office. We can even make smoothies and toasties now that our small appliances have arrived. And because they have, we feel as though we have too – arrived, that is.
The process has not been without its frustrations. Our removals company have been as helpful as a rabbit dropping in a slice of raisin bread. They arrived five hours after their promised arrival time and, when it reached 5pm (they arrived at 3pm), were set to leave us with our beds unbuilt until one of the team took pity and stayed late to help put them together.
The ‘unpackers’ – to be a team of two girls to unpack boxes and two guys to rebuild any remaining furniture – turned out to be one girl whose idea of unpacking largely consisted of tipping boxes out onto the floor until we asked her to stop and to leave. The two guys who eventually turned up had no idea they were supposed to be building furniture and didn’t have any tools anyway. “Put a call in to the office,” they suggested. So we did, a few times. We’re still waiting to be called back three days later. If only they’d been so slow to invoice for their services.
It’s been an exhausting few days , making sense of all the boxes (many mis-labelled and many placed in the wrong rooms) and it turned out that the original packers had a bit of a sense of humour about packing the power leads in different boxes to the appliances they fitted. Oh, and table legs in different boxes to the tables they were for. But despite it all (and perhaps because of it all) my wife and I feel as though we’ve climbed a mountain successfully and planted our flag on the summit.
We’re exhausted, but proud that we’ve made it this far. We’ll start the battle for service (and perhaps a refund of some of our fee) from the removals company again tomorrow, but for now, sitting on a sofa that we last saw 15,000 kilometres away, and realising that our real home, with all its trappings and comforts, is now firmly placed in the southern hemisphere, you’ll forgive us if we take a moment to raise a glass of wine and take it all in.
Cheers. Welcome to Canberra. Welcome home.