For the first time, my dad wasn't here to celebrate the holidays with us. Depending on your spiritual persuasion, my mum is debating the finer points of art with Gauguin and Dali. As such, we had half the family here than we did in holidays past.

Turns out, this is increasingly normal. Elke invited over friends of hers in similar situations, and we ended up filling up the whole lounge room. Clara and I largely sat out in the dining room, but the sound of laugher and happy talking in our home again had such a profound effect. Excuse my use of the term.

Yesterday, Clara and I spent some time with our good friend Seb in his home in Marrickville. He cooked us up a storm I won't forget for a long time. I've only been exposed to South American cuisines since moving back here to Sydney, but its an amazing world out there.

Walking through the rain today, Clara and I found the one coffee place in Hornsby that was open today, the lovely Vietnamese restaurant near the station overpass. Australia is in summer this time of the year, but the grey sky and heavy rain were almost as fun to watch from inside the cozy restaurant by ourselves.

As spoiled Western kids (let's be honest), we were always excited for presents during Christmas. I can still remember the excitement at getting a Daffy Duck soft toy, or my first iMac. This year, Clara, Elke and Seb bought me some really wonderful, thoughtful gifts ranging from a replacement Kindle (wow, Clara!), a Thunderbolt docking station and a veritable tower of new manga to read!

Let's pause here for an animated stock art image of a Christmas tree from 2004. So glitter, wow!

At the risk of writing a hipster "I'm above the consumerism of the holidays blah blah" comment, while these gifts were all so thoughtful and kind, what I will cherish the most from these last couple of days are the presence of some wonderful people in my life. Thank you to all of you.

Happy holidays ^_^.