Because we don’t mark 25 December in any way, the day passed by in the same way as any other Friday. The girls played around the house, David did a bit of maintenance, and I tried to stay on top of the washing and house-tidying.

Mid-afternoon, I drove to the airport to pick up my dad, who flew up from Sydney to visit us and Aunty Laurel. We’ve been trying to get Dad to come up for another visit, since we haven’t seen him since February, but a range of activities keeps him busy in Sydney. Aunty Laurel’s hospitalisation was the catalyst Dad needed to actually book a flight.

Laurel + Victor, December 2009
Dad and I stopped off at the hospital on the way home. Aunty Laurel was doing very well. She was in out of the high-dependency unit and in a double room.

At home, Dad very quickly made friends with the girls who call him “Pa”. He has a special way of talking to them all, no doubt from years of practice from when my mum hosted a pre-school at our house in Abidjan. Brioni was the first to be friendly, showing him around the house and the sleeping arrangements, but Aisha was comfortable enough to ask questions at dinnertime.

It’s interesting to see that the degree and time that it takes for the girls to be friendly depends entirely on the initial friendliness of the adult. Children are so willing to make friends — you just have to show yourself friendly! I wonder at what age we lose this amiability and start projecting hostility. (Some people never lose it, maybe it’s just a personality flaw.)

Dad’s going to stay for a short visit, while Laurel recovers in hospital and the family work out what long-term arrangements need to be put into place for her care. Other family are driving up here, so he’ll get to see some of his other siblings, and no doubt I’ll be running into them too at the hospital!