There is just over a week 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. In the past 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! Admit it, this year there may have been few turning on the light ceremonies but you definitely came over all festive when you drove into town and the Christmas lights were actually on. Sigh, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!
2. This year the 'will the be home or won't they be home for Christmas?' debate will peak early as those stranded overseas for the last 2 years forge through repeated antigen tests and the prospect of delays and quarantines just to be home in Leitrim for December 25. Don't feel too sorry for these souls as they have probably spent the last two years in sunnier climes with far less restrictions. Although do brace yourself for a lot of emotional outbursts and maudlin reminiscing..... when they discover their favourite pubs/nightclubs/restaurants are no more because of the pandemic.
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 your 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 where it is universally accepted that a handful of Cadbury Heroes and a 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. Someone will go vegan and mammy won't be happy. Yes we're all about doing our bit for the environment but telling the mammy that you've decided not to eat meat at 5pm on Christmas Eve will not win you any friends for the 25th. To the Irish mammy, stating you've gone vegan is the equivalent of saying you have decided to join a convent or monastery, it's all great for the soul in theory but she's having none of it for her baby. Just a word of advice, if you have decided against the turkey provide for yourself or face a plate of soggy roast veg and brussel sprouts for your festive fare!
9. The brussel sprouts will start a heated debate on the 25th. Depending on whether your mammy thinks its ok to boil the bejasus out of the sprouts (it's not by the way) or follows some fancy smanzy recipe which includes almonds and honey (why would you do that?), the sprouts will be the main bone of contention at the dinner. There will be fights about liking them or hating them. Fights about how many you have to eat before you qualify for the dessert. Fights about how smelly they are (before and after they are consumed). Pray one of the siblings has gone vegan so you can foist the sprouts off on them.....just make sure you don't have to share a room with them that night.
10. 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. You may finally decide to abandon the carnivore ship and follow the vegan sibling into a turkey free world. Good for you, that's the New Year's resolution sorted.
11. 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. Keep an eye out for the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Superman (1 to 1001 or whatever number they are at now) and a slew of straight to tv festive films....and avoid them all like the plague. It's like Christmas purgatory.
12. Mince pies are not made from mince. FACT!
13. Board games should come with a Christmas warning. DO NOT, and I cannot emphasise this enough, DO NOT attempt to play any board games on Christmas Day. A game of monopoly when you were 9 could be the reason your sister never speaks to you again. The violence perpetrated on the 25th as a result of board games is the reason why A&E's have to have extra staff across Christmas. So, unless you like having to remove a small red plastic hotel from an orifice it was never intended to go in on the 26th then just watch the telly like a normal person.
14. Traditionally St Stephen's Day involves standing (possibly bearing the worst hangover of your life) on the sidelines of a charity GAA match. However with Covid and the never ending pandemic this may be scuppered this year. If it is, please still support the charity. It won't help the hangover but you may get a good word in with god if the Christmas celebrations does actually end in your demise (rather than just feeling like it will!).
15. 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.
16. Between St Stephen's Day and New Year's Day you will have 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.
17. New Year's Eve is a miserable night that never meets the unrealistic expectations lumped upon its festive shoulders. With the additional complication of Covid the disappointment will be tenfold as you now have even less chance of shifting the face off anyone with all this social distancing. Sleep off the Christmas induced coma and start the New Year on January 2 instead.
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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