There are only a few weeks left to peak festive madness, but chances are you're well on the way to wanting to switch off the brain. Anyway, here's a list of 18 things about Christmas that anyone from Leitrim, or anyone who has ever experienced a Christmas in Leitrim, will understand only too well:
1. You will have attended at least one (and possibly more) switching on of the Christmas lights in December, because, Christmas isn't Christmas until the lights are on!
2. There will be an obligatory trip to Dublin to check out the shops, even though you won't buy anything because you don't want to lug it all home on the train.
3. You will be going to mass/service on Christmas Day. Even if you haven't been the entire year, you will be expected to turn up in you best clothes on Christmas morning so the parish won't be talking about what a godless heathen you have become since you went to college/moved to Dublin.
4. Christmas morning is the only morning of the year were it is universally accepted that a handful of Cadbury Heroes and bacon sandwich does constitute a proper meal.
5. At about 4.05am on December 25 anyone under 12 in your house will be wide awake - even those that never rise before 9am without a fight on a school morning. At about 4.10am you will be greeted by that ever grateful chorus of "Santa forgot the batteries". Modern children, completely unable to process something like using their imagination, will wail for hours until you ring every neighbour in the parish to find batteries. Ah the joys of parenthood.
6. The age-old debate over why Santa wraps presents for some families, but not for others, causes much head-scratching.
7. There's always that local shop which opens its doors on Christmas morning for an hour or two so anyone without milk, butter or some other perishable good can grab it before the Christmas dinner preparations begin in earnest.
8. There's also that local pub which - if you know the right way to knock on the door - opens its doors for a swift one before you have to scarper back home for said dinner.
9. By 5pm on Christmas Day you've had enough turkey to last you a decade. But, bully for you my friend, there's another three days of that thankless bird to endure!
Starting with leftovers on St Stephen's Day and then turkey curry the day after, with a final helping of turkey soup on that third day. WAY TOO MUCH TURKEY.
10. The RTE Christmas movie used to be the last stand for those brave souls that have managed to keep their eyes open for the long haul.
But now that most films have been streamed illegally almost straight after their cinematic release, the Christmas movie is no longer a major festive event.
But you'll watch it through heavy lids all the same.
Snorting mince pies in a zombie-like frenzy.
11. Mince pies are not made from mince. FACT!
12. St Stephen's Day wouldn't be St St Stephen's Day without the chance to stand (possibly bearing the worst hangover of your life) on the sidelines of a charity GAA match. You will freeze and may be forced to partake in more alcohol to stay warm - this is a question of survival, drink water at your own peril!
13. Speaking of St Stephen's Day, one of your mates will kick off that day's WhatApp group chat with the perennial favourite - "what are we doing tonight?", to which the reply will be "that better be in walking distance, I'm still palavered from watching that charity GAA game"
14. You will spend your festive break being berated by your extended family members for the following: for getting fat; not being seen for weeks in the parish; failing to make better than the junior B team; not having a significant other; having a significant other no one can stand (probably someone who wasn't born into a farm family) or getting married and failing to produce a grandchild in the first 9 months. You will be squeezed, pinched, assessed and found wanting. Resist the urge to thump anyone but feel free to declare you're giving up all material possessions and joining a hippy commune in Nepal - that'll shut them up.
15. Between St Stephen's Day and New Year's Day you've already decided you're leaving your current job and you'll finally chase that dream job you've always said you'll go for. Don't worry, this resolution will probably wear off by January 2 when you decide it's not worth the effort it will take to update your CV.
16. New Year's Eve is a miserable night which never meets the unrealistic expectations lumped upon its festive shoulders.
But you'll probably go out anyway and sit uncomfortably in a corner somewhere with loud music and limited access to both the exit and the toilet.
17. You will, inevitably, miss the actual turning of the New Year. You can blame it on the DJ, how much drink you have consumed or the fact you were probably in the toilet when the countdown began. On the bright side, consider yourself blessed that you were not there to become the latest victim of the village serial sloppy New Year kisser.
18. At some point your father will declare. "Thank God we reared that second bin of turf this year with this cold change coming". This will be despite the fact that you still have three full sheds of turf and the temperature hasn't dipped below 10 degrees in weeks. You will still be really, really bitter about having to rear that second bin of turf in the only three glorious weeks of summer we had this year. Seethe quietly and plan to be unavailable for the turf season next year.
Happy Christmas Leitrim!
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