Noticed a difference celebrating Christmas here in Ireland?
It’s a question we’ve been asked several times now, and my answer has mostly been that I’ve not really noticed a difference. The only change for us is that we now call ‘Boxing Day’ St Stephen’s Day instead, it threw me at first when the man came home from work and declared he had St Stephen’s Day off, absolutely no idea what he meant until he pointed out it’s what they call Boxing Day here in Ireland.
Our Christmas celebrations started with ‘Light Up Limerick’ where we saw Father Christmas along with Vicky Phelan and characters from Frozen turn on the Christmas lights. There’s one difference right there; Father Christmas had an Irish accent! Who knew!
It was a bit of a last minute decision that day to go and see the lights switch on, in the past we’ve usually skipped light switch on’s as it’s just too much for Dylan with his autism, but this year we decided to brave it and was told by the guys behind ‘Christmas in Limerick’ that was a special space set aside for those with additional needs in front of the stage, perfect for us with Dylan in his pram, sadly the downside was he could not cope with people speaking over the microphone, though he did alright with the singing and I think he recognised the Greatest Showman songs that were sung.
After that, we were in the festive mood and despite it being a week until December we went and got our Christmas Tree. It was kind of an accidental purchase, I went into B&Q for some screws and came back out with the most beautiful real tree. I like that our tree was up, and ready to decorate come the start of December, after all, it wasn’t the cheapest of purchases, so it was nice to enjoy it for longer. And I can confirm that the tree is very much still alive, the first plant I’ve managed to do so longer than a few weeks as the man kindly pointed out.
It’s the first year that we’ve gone down the real route with our tree; we’ve been saying for years that we would get one and the fact that we ditched our tree before the move meant that we needed a new one, gave us that push towards it. It was also the first year that we didn’t have a star on the top of the tree. Instead, we had a peacock which Charlotte picked out in tkmaxx.
Then the school calendar changed to all things Christmas related; we had a Christmas jumper day, the Carol concert at the church and a day where they could bring in games and treats, I think I scored parenting brownie points with the yard of Jaffa cakes I got the kids to take in.
I guess another difference for us was that we celebrated Christmas being surrounded by a community, for me this started with Christmas drinks with the WAGS of the village at the local clubhouse. (This was a week after I had gone out for Christmas drinks with some fellow Autism mums – my poor liver) It meant meeting and getting to know more of the neighbours, and what better way for them to get to know you then have them witness you drunk at 3 am?
Then came the Christmas Fayre at the community centre, Charlotte had done a Christmas card as her school homework to be entered into a competition with the winner announced that day and guess who won her age category? Yup, Charlotte! Very proud parent moment! That was followed with a Christmas party at the clubhouse that afternoon where we got to see Father Christmas! Oli & Charlotte has a fantastic time dancing away with some of their school friends while Dylan joined his dad in the bar to watch the football, with my phone and his headphones and a bottomless supply of chocolate buttons to keep him happy (Dylan not Daddy!)
Leaving the Christmas shop last minute is something we always do, we usually just go to a local shop and get a shed load of veggies and whatever turkey we can get our hands on. I browsed the Tesco delivery slots thinking maybe that would be a stressfree option but alas no delivery slots left so I went with a click & collect which worked out just as stressfree though they didn’t have any cauliflower or duck & orange pate and they didn’t substitute my camembert which I refuse to believe there were no substitutions for.
Christmas Eve came around so quickly, now we don’t do that whole Christmas Eve box thing, but we do watch a Christmas related film while snacking on all the unhealthy food we have stockpiled. I surprised the family that evening with a delivery of 12 delicious doughnuts, I did tell them there was something being delivered, and they had guessed everything but doughnuts, so the look on their faces was priceless. They were the perfect accompaniment to our Home Alone screening.
And just like that, it was Christmas Day, our first Christmas in our new home in our new country. Like always it was just the 5 of us celebrating with the man doing the Christmas dinner and me building everything that needed building. Another difference? The delicious Irish turkey, we currently have a proper love affair going on with Irish meat, there’s just something about it which is way more superior than the English meat we use to consume. Come the evening the house was drowning in toys, safe to say Father Christmas did good and gave the children exactly what they wanted for Christmas! Oli got the LEGO Slave 1 ship he asked for, and Charlotte got her choo-choo train, Dylan for the first year enjoyed opening his presents by himself, I think it became a fun sensory sensation ripping open his presents.
For the man and me, the whole of December was a priceless month filled with not only memories being made but also friends and new family traditions. Ask me again what the difference is, and I’ll reply with that this Christmas right here in Ireland, well it was the best Christmas we’ve ever celebrated.