Have you ever heard the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? Well that is the war cry to my childhood. I have aunts and uncles a plenty and I have more cousins than I can count. The thing is though, these aunts, uncles and cousins aren’t biological, they’re my chosen family. In my family, we use the title ‘Aunt’ or ‘Uncle’ as a sign to show our upmost respect for that person. We also refer to all of our nearest and dearest as ‘our village’.
Our village is loud, full and encompasses people from all walks of life. Some people have been part of our village my entire life, while others have only recently pitched a tent, set up camp and joined us around the campfire. All you need to join our table is good morals, a good sense of humor and a willingness to BYO beer but a plate of nibbles to share.
My village includes many different people. From Gold Coasters and the people who made my 12 months living in Brisbane a little less lonely, to the incredible community in that little outback town. I am blessed that the parameters of my village spreads so wide and it is a privilege to have all these people in my corner.
Basically, the point of this post is to publicly thank my village, but also encourage you to spread some gratitude to your village too. I’m sure everyone’s village looks different, but I want to share with you a few examples why my village is so special…
- Someone in my village once went and picked my sister up from a party at 2am when Mum and Dad were away visiting me when I was living up north. No complaints, no questions asked.
- The family living in the house a few houses down from us growing up had 6 children, we were instant friends. We would have sleepovers, we would play in the street and during the summer holidays, we’d check what was on offer for dinner at both houses before deciding where we would eat that night. They were my second mother and father and the 6 extra siblings I never knew I needed. They taught me how to swear, how to straighten my hair and how to bake toffee drops. While we have all grown up and moved on, my second mother and father still live in that house at the end of the street and it still feels like home.
- When I was in Grade 11 of high school, my Dad had to have his kidney removed. This meant he was out of action for about 6 weeks. During this time, every few weeks someone from our village would come and mow our lawn.
- We have one member of our village that, without fails, makes photobooks of any significant occasion in our lives. There are also a few other members who will always bring a caramel tart or mars bar cheesecake with them to any gathering ‘just because’.
- When I was 5, my younger sister and I had a Nanny. She wore a bright yellow watch and I thought she was the bee’s knees. 18 years later and she now has 4 daughters of her own and she refers to us as her ‘practice children’. Every Christmas she makes gingerbread and every Christmas, without fail, a small package of gingerbread appears on our doorstep.
- When I was living on a cattle station, I would drive the 45 minutes into town twice a week to play sport. Every night, as I left to drive home at least one person would say to me ‘text us when you are home, so we know you are safe’. I’d also always have countless offers of a bed, if I ever felt too tired or the weather was too dangerous to drive in to make it home safely.
- We generally spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s camping at our family property. There’s usually about 25 of us and we all camp in the bottom paddock. Swags scatter the paddock, camper trailers and awnings are erected and camp chairs are strategically placed in an attempt to find some shade. We spend the week swimming in the waterhole, playing cards and running amuck. Sidenote: One year my cousin and I ripped the sunroof off the ‘farm car’ – an old run-down car that was only ever driven around the property – tied a recovery strap to the tow ball and used the sunroof as a surfboard to grass ski across the paddock. Anyway, I regress – this time is a favorite on the calendar as it typifies everything it means to be a part of a village; community, laughter and an overwhelming sense of safety. The farm is my favourite place in the world, and a driving force behind The Urban Farmhouse and spending New Year’s camping in the bottom paddock is a large contributor to these joyful sentiments.
I could go on and on with tales from my village. Tales of compassion, tales of kindness, tales of laughs and practical jokes, but if I did, I’d be here forever. No words could truly articulate how thankful I am for my village, and dear village members – if you’re reading this, imagine me reaching through your screen to give you a big hug and an even bigger ‘thank you’. I just have one mission for you lovely readers, stop for a second and think. Who is in your village? Who is pitching a tent? Who is sitting around your campfire? Have you thought about it? Have you got those people in mind? Good – now go out there and tell em’ you love em’.