The Irish Homecoming - There’s no place like home for the Christmas holidays - food laughter, love and being spoilt by Santa

Colum and Sadie get into the Christmas spirit.

We then attended 10 a.m. Mass with the Mooney clan and all headed back to John’s mom’s house for a fantastic fry-up and more gift giving.  We were on the road to Kerry (I’m from Tralee) at 12.30 p.m. and were sitting down at Nana Liz’s dinner table by 3 p.m. 

To say we were stuffed would have been an understatement, but wasn’t everyone in the same boat!

The weather was extremely mild – in the 60’s -- so we didn’t get a white Christmas (instead we all got flus) but the rain held off which made visiting all our friends and some more family on St. Stephen’s Day a pleasure. 

I heard many times prior to the 25th that “it doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.” I smiled but never concurred. 

Since the beginning of December I had the car radio tuned into the dedicated Christmas music station. All the shops had decorations, bright lights and festive tunes playing, all the shopping centers around the city had Santa Claus visiting. 

Limerick City was full every day of people with red paper shopping bags and the television was saturated with Christmas specials. It sure felt like Christmas to me. Colum came home from day care every day with a self-made snowman or Santa. People were having Christmas parties and plans were put in place early in December for nights out (two of which we went on and enjoyed.)

Being in Limerick I also had the pleasure of seeing some of the thousands of travelers (gypsies) that descended upon Rathkeale, a small town about a half an hour outside the city- over the holidays.  I was doing some last minute shopping a few days before Christmas in one of the shopping centers when all of a sudden I felt like I had been plunged into an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. 

This was one of the colder days over the holidays but it didn’t stop the young pretty traveler girls donning – well, donning practically nothing. If you’re familiar with the show at all you will know what I mean when I say they were dressed up in what appeared to be their social attire. 

The boys had white suits on (at least they were covered up) but the young girls – no more than 16 or 17 – had neon pink and yellow bits of outfits. They were literally wearing a bra with tassels (although not many) draping down from the back -- not the front -- a piece of material that was supposed to constitute a skirt I guess, and heels that were about seven inches high. They were orange with fake tan and all appeared to have big hair and big earrings. 

The boys dragged them by the hand through the shopping centers as they stumbled over the heels and shouted orders to slow down every few feet. The girls must have been freezing. I know I was just looking at them. 

Over 4,000 travelers came from all over the world to celebrate Christmas in Rathkeale. It’s an annual tradition, and there is often weddings celebrated during this time. I’ve no doubt they went on to enjoy themselves that day. 

So it’s the New Year now and the travelers have gone back to their respective parts of the world, Santa Claus suits are being sent to the dry cleaners for next year, the Christmas trees are being thrown away and we’re all making best efforts to settle into January with new focuses, plans and promises. We’ll see how we all get on.