The time of year when home seems very far away
How the Irish abroad will spend Christmas this year
Alan Keane (22)
On December 28th, a group of us will meet in a Limerick bar, just a stone’s throw from the university we graduated from last August. A Facebook invite has taken the place of the Star of Bethlehem in this modern Christmas tale. We’ll come from near and far: Dublin, Edinburgh, London, and even Korea.
It will be more than a meeting of old friends. It will be one in the eye for the recession that, for 364 days of the year, keeps us apart. We’ll seek familiar faces in the crowded bar, the joy of reunion displayed in tears, laughter, hugs and pats on the back. We’re home.
Ten stories will be told at once, many of which have already been shared via Skype or Facebook but mean much more when we’re face-to-face.
Those spending their Christmas in the Far East, on Australian beaches or in Canadian cities won’t be forgotten.
I’ll sit among my friends and inwardly wonder, what does 2013 have in store? Will I spend next Christmas half a world away from here? I’ll shrug away these questions as I shrug on my jacket. There is a far more pressing matter at hand. Which bar next? As closing-time approaches it will be as though the last 16 months never happened, as if none of us have joined the rat race, the dole queue, or the masses leaving this country in search of a better life.
Morning will bring cold reality and hot tea. Friends will slip away from the hotel one by one, without any big goodbyes.
We can’t predict how 2013 will pan out, but we’ll content ourselves with the knowledge that we’ve ended 2012 in good company.
FLYING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Samantha Carpenter (26)
On the plane from London, I’ll be among hundreds of other emigrants returning to spend Christmas in Ireland. Everyone will be in a great mood, a little more drink will be consumed than usual, and when we touch down, there’ll be a round of applause because we know we are finally home and the holidays can begin.
My grand-dad used to work in Dublin Airport and I spent a lot of time there as a child. For me, it is still one of the best places to be at Christmas. Everyone is so friendly, right down to the guys at passport control who always say “welcome home”.
I’ll stay with my grandparents in Glasnevin. They are quite elderly and can’t come to collect me any more, but I still feel overwhelming happiness when I walk through the arrival gates and see the decorations and the smiling faces as people are reunited with their loved ones.
Superquinn sausages are a huge treat on Christmas morning, served with thick slices of proper brown soda bread with real butter, which is hard to find in London. I don’t go to Mass any other day of the year, but I look forward to it at Christmas.