Emigrant Christmases: 'Skype was broken. But actually I was relieved'
GENERATION EMIGRATION: Will Keena, Melbourne
I’ve tried to convince myself, in absentia, that Christmas in Ireland is just consumer frenzy soaked in alcohol and that’s it. I’ve sneered at the “two more sleeps ‘til I fly home” posts on social media, and boasted about the weather here on Skype.
I’ve been trying to convince myself of a necessary truth for any long-term traveller: I’m not missing anything.
This, of course, is the fallacy of the expat. I am missing everything. The people and the custom, the to and fro of what matters. Big laughs with my old man in a snug somewhere, seeing my brother and being heckled by my friends, my mother’s warmth and those pocketed tinfoil turkey sandwiches for mobile sustenance.
It was just us on the day itself, my girlfriend and I, and we exchanged gifts, prepared a full Christmas spread and drank good wine. There were heated games of Connect 4, lots of stealthy meat pilfering and the inevitable coma after we sat down properly to eat. We watched Chevy Chase and Macaulay Culkin do their Christmas thing. It was hot outside, but inside was so cool in every way.
Melbourne is a long way away but Ireland is patient – it waits there smiling, welcoming and ready to heap scorn upon (what I thought were) my cool new clothes. I love it and I hate it; I miss it and get furious with it all in equal measure. It’s a complicated relationship, but they’re always the most worthy ones. The ones you never forget . . . especially at Christmas time.
Eimear Holden, Toronto
My family have been in Toronto since 2009, but this was our first Christmas away from home. The journey is a nightmare with three kids under the age of four, and last year it took us 22 hours to get to my parents’ house in Carlow. The kids didn’t settle for a week, so this year, to be fair to them, we decided to have a Toronto Christmas.
I’ve been doing my best to get into the festivities, and the kids are a great distraction, but it has been tough. The kids don’t notice as they are young and there are plenty of toys to occupy them but it made a huge difference for us not being able to share our children with their grandparents.
My parents, four sisters, nieces and nephews all gathered for dinner in my aunt’s house in Blessington. Skype was broken on the day, but I was actually relieved. It would have been very difficult to see them all together without us there. We talked on the phone, and texted throughout the day.