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By Jocie Ferron

Ahhh … twinkling lights on lightly snow-covered lawns. Carols, trees and the promise of sweets made only once a year.
On the flip side, biting winds and cold dark December days. And let’s not forget the annual fight with the kids about dressing for the weather and that "No, we don’t wear t-shirts when it's 0 degrees outside regardless of how hot you think you are", and "Yes, you do have to wear that tuque".
Christmas! I honestly love it. Take out that rampant commercialism and the corny-ness (OK, deep dark secret time: I love those cheesy yet fabulous made-for-TV Christmas movies) and it is my ultimate favourite time of the year.
To be honest, I can’t decide which type of Christmas I love better: the Australian Christmas with BBQ and heat, sand and beaches, swimming and overall laziness; or the Canadian Christmas with the smell of pine needles and cinnamon, indoor warmth and coziness, and outside lights twinkling in the snow.
There is not much I love more in winter than sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and watching the snow as it blankets the ground. The quiet and stillness that comes with a snowstorm still has me enchanted even after all these years.
Both countries have their charms and I feel privileged to have been able to experience both. Although, in all honesty I am looking forward to once again having a lazy hot Christmas in a couple of years.
This year there is added excitement in my Christmas world. Next week a long-awaited dream finally comes to fruition. The backstory? I was nine and living in Holland and my parents took us to a German Christmas market. Ever since, I have had a vague but wonderful memory of this experience. Images of little cabins selling wooden Christmas ornaments, yummy food, the smell of mulled wine and lots of Christmas lights have stayed with me and I vowed that one day I would go back. It seems I have been talking about it for far too long as my husband finally agreed and the holiday I have been planning in my head for many years is about to happen. EEK! I am a little excited.
As much as I love Christmas, it’s also the time when I miss my family the most. In Canada, we have my husband’s family, and it's lovely to hang out on Christmas Eve eating lots of sweets and playing silly games. But as wonderful as it is, I miss my family and the easiness that comes from being with people you have known your whole life. This year I am feeling especially nostalgic as both my siblings are back in Australia after living abroad for the last couple of years.
These last couple of months I have been watching my sister go through the FIFO lifestyle from afar. Having just moved back to Australia with her two little girls, her husband has been flying to another city every week for work. It's been hard watching as a bystander from afar, knowing how hard it can be and wanting to go and help, especially when they have been going through some rough patches. It’s tough knowing all I can do is give support through a computer.
Recently, while catching up, I asked her what was one nugget of wisdom that has helped keep her sanity in the last couple of months. This is what she told me. "Having two young children means that routine is important - it helps you and them maintain day-to-day normality whether the other parent is around or not. They know what to expect and generally when to expect it. Doesn't mean of course that you never do anything outside of it - but as a general principle I've found it works." It’s great advice and something she has found helps her family during the chaos, uncertainty and stress that can often come with the FIFO life.
So as I prepare for my magical Christmas holiday with my family, a mulled wine toast to you all, and a Christmas wish that a little love, laughter and magic is with you this holiday season. 

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Australian nurse Jocie Ferron was volunteering in Mongolia when she met her French-Canadian husband, who was working in the mining industry. After a few years living in Australia they decided to settle in Canada with their two young children. They enjoyed a few years in a north Quebec mining town (where Jocie had daily adventures navigating life in French) and they've now settled in New Brunswick.