It’s love actually, as friends and family fly home for Christmas writes Julie Thomson.

In December at Brisbane Airport, the arrival halls reverberate with emotional scenes of joy, laughter, nervousness, excitement and happy tears, as families and friends greet each other, often after long absences, and for some, for the first time. Their stories of coming together share a common theme – love. Along with airtravel, it’s what makes the world go around and these families are thrilled to be home for Christmas.

Anja and Michael Zemek, of Camp Hill,are welcoming Anja’s sister Kergi and husband Klemens from Austria for Christmas this year.Their arrival will see the sisters swap back their children they exchanged for the last three months. Reid Zemek, 15, a student from Villanova College, spent the last school term in Klagenfurt, Austria. Meanwhile, in Brisbane, cousin Kaja kept Reid’s sister, Claire, company, in Grade 7 at St Martin’s school, Carina.

“It has been a wonderful experience for both families,” Anja says, although admits she missed her son terribly when he was overseas. “I could not really talk on the phone or Skype him for long before I started to cry. I always handed it over to Michael so I didn’t upset him.”

Christopher Watson is bringing his fouryear- old son, Kane to Brisbane from the USA to meet his greatgrandmother, Shirley Watson, for the first time. It’s a special treat for Shirley who turns 85 on Boxing Day. Accompanying Christopher are his American wife Stephanie and their three daughters, Alli, 18, Emma, 16 and Myah, 5. Christopher moved from Brisbane to Oakland, Maryland,where he is area general manager of Siemens, six years ago.He’s keen to leave the New England snow behind this Christmas and bask in some Queensland sunshine, beach walks and fishing.His mother, Jenny, and her partner Kevin are excitedly planning a big Christmas reunion at their Gold Coast home, which will include Christopher’s sister Mandy, and her husband Paul Seng, who will fly to Brisbane from Emerald with their two children, Oliver 5, and Millie, 3.

It will be the first time the whole family has been together for five years and a first meeting for some of the cousins.Ben Gooch and wife, Rachael, will fly to Brisbane to spend Christmas with his dad,Peter and step mum Suzie and his older brother Aaron. Ben, who works in IT security, has lived in the UK for almost nine years and hasn’t had an Australian Christmas since 2009. En route to Brisbane, he’ll visit his mum in Koh Samui forher sixtieth birthday, with his sister Rachel.

As well as family, Ben says he is Brisbane homesick. “I am really looking forward to getting a proper kebab and fresh seafood,” he says.