Dec 05, 2023

A Christmas wish that came true thanks to family

I witnessed Christmas magic in all its glory and a heartfelt reminder that Christmas is about love and family. [Source: Shutterstock]

I met Carol* two years ago; she had come into residential care following a stroke and a subsequent fall and was unable to manage at home with no immediate family to support her.

Residential aged care was the only option suitable for the type of high care needed.

Originally from Brighton in the United Kingdom, she came to Australia backpacking in her early twenties, met her surfer boyfriend Shane, and they were married within the year and settled in Gerringong, New South Wales. The dream of having a big family did not happen after several miscarriages; she gave birth to her daughter Louise at the age of forty-one. 

Louise had the travel bug like her mother and spanned the globe after graduating from University. After a chance meeting with James* and falling in love with him when working in London, they married and decided to stay in England. Oliver was born the following year, now five years old, and a daughter, Emily*, two years later. 

Carol has never met her grandchildren, and although she cherishes the photographs and videos sent to her and looks forward to the FaceTime calls, it is never the same as being with her family in person. 

Staff members were excited for Carol and knew what this would mean for her well-being.

Chatting with Carol about Christmas’s past, she tells me of her sadness when her mother, who had been diagnosed with dementia, had been admitted into an old folks home. 

“Back then, the homes were not as comfortable and caring as now; they were cold, dark and soulless places,” she said.

Carol held feelings of guilt at placing her mother into a home and went on to say that she had passed away on Christmas morning, so there were always mixed emotions about Christmas. 

Other memories are of joy and happiness watching Louise grow up and sharing her excitement on Christmas morning. 

That did not deter Carol, after all, it made Louise happy and that was more important than pleasing the neighbours. 

There had been mixed emotions when talking about Christmas past, followed by a few tears promptly wiped away and replaced with laughter about how boring her neighbours had been.

Christmas was never the same when Louise was married and lived with her family in England. 

I listened to stories about her mischievous grandson Oliver and her granddaughter Emily, who may be his younger sister and her attempts to keep Oliver in order! She hopes to live to see them all one day but feels it is probably unlikely.

I felt excited about the secret mission the family was planning and had to keep tight-lipped about the surprise visit.

As the days drew closer to Christmas, Louise telephoned the facility to say they had booked an Airbnb for three weeks. The ground floor has all the needs catered for her mother to stay comfortably and safely.

Finally, Christmas Eve morning arrived. I sat with Carol in the dining room strategically placed directly facing the front entrance door; caregivers were hanging around in anticipation of the family’s imminent arrival.

Carol announced she wanted to take a nap on her bed. I offered her a cup of tea, attempting to distract her from wanting to leave the dining room.

I replied, “This is not a dream; your family are here.” 

The children came running towards their grandma and flung their arms around her, all three hugging tightly, tears rolling down Carol’s face in disbelief that her family were here in person. Finally, Louise and James eventually got the opportunity to embrace their Mum; they all sat laughing, talking and crying. 

Louise promptly told Carol they were in Australia for three weeks and that they had rented a house to spend quality time together.

Everyone rejoiced at Carol’s family reunion, with the room filled with love and laughter.

Hopes and dreams had come true for Carol, and she said, “I couldn’t have felt more delighted; I didn’t know if to laugh or cry, so I did both.” 

It was as if all her Christmas wishes had been all rolled into one, and she couldn’t be happier than she was at that moment. As for Christmas past, they are memories held in her heart and mind’s eye. While Christmas present has given her fresh hope for life; as for Christmas’s future, “Who knows?” That’s always a mystery.

That day, I witnessed Christmas magic in all its glory and a heartfelt reminder that Christmas is about love and family.

They all celebrated together, sharing special moments over Christmas and New Year. The family flew back home, and six days later, Carol passed away in her sleep; I am sure with contentment and fulfilment in her heart of the memories that made this her best Christmas ever. 

Charles Dickens once said, “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

*All names are fictitious to protect identities 

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  1. Wonderful story Michael. There’s nothing like catching up with family and friends this time of year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and festive season.

    1. Hi Anthony,
      Many thanks, that makes 21 stories published so far. It makes a great ending to the year having the “Christmas Wish” published.
      Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year
      Best wishes,


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