Christmas is always a sad time of the year to be away from home. If we all had a choice we would be sitting around dinner tables on Christmas Day with our loved ones, but due to many reasons some are oceans apart from their families.

I caught up with some family members of emigrants living in New York and asked them to send a message to the person missing from their dinner table this year.

Selina and Gary Hamill’s family haven’t had them around the dinner table in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan for a long time. Gary, who has been living in New York since October 2005 and Selina, since 2006, are missed every year around this time.

Their sister Sinead told the Irish Voice they just simply miss the banter, the general Christmas cheer Gary and Selina bring to the table, and most of all the fun they always used to have opening and sharing their Christmas presents together.

“Of course we miss them so much at Christmas but really we miss them every day,” shared Sinead.

It’s also a little sad for the whole family because neither Selina nor Gary have met their niece Ella (their brother Paul’s daughter).

“We just want to wish Selina and Gary and their partners Billy and Adrienne a big warm happy Christmas and a happy New Year. We love you all dearly and miss you so much,” said Sinead.

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THIS is the first year in a long time that Marie Flavin Brouder isn’t at home in Athea, Co. Limerick with her family.
Marie often makes the trip across the Atlantic from New York at Christmas, but this year she is spending a special Christmas in Yonkers with her husband Mickey and their handsome son Kane. The main reason they aren’t flying home is because Marie is expecting her second baby.

Marie’s sister Ann got in touch with the Irish Voice to spend a special message to her sister this year. “I want to send you a heartfelt message of goodwill Marie, and I’m so looking forward to the new addition to your family in 2014. I hope ye have a great Christmas and hopefully see you in the New Year,” wrote Ann.

Marie, who recently opened up her own boutique in Chappaqua, and Ann had many fun times growing up together, but Ann’s favorite memory is of more recent times when she would always make the trip to Shannon Airport on December 21 to bring Marie home for a traditional Irish breakfast. That won’t be happening this year, but Ann looks forward to the next Christmas when they are all together again.

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Orla Doherty of the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers hasn’t spent a Christmas at home in many years. Orla grew up in Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry but New York has been her home now for eight years. She is married to Eunan and has two wonderful children, Emmet and Ailbhe.

Orla is very close to all her family and in particular to her sister Aine, who wants to wish Orla and her family a very special Christmas in New York and said she “hopes to spend a Christmas together sometime soon.”

Aine recalls some of the earlier Christmases they shared together.

“Christmas was a very special time for us in Kilgarvan. Our mother was the best host of Christmas dinner ever with her homemade croquettes, sausage stuffing, plum pudding and Christmas cake, and yet Orla still wasn’t happy.

“One year she made a trip into Nora’s shop next door to buy a packet of skittles. Our mother wasn’t too impressed with her,” shares Aine.

Another year both Orla and Aine got a baby doll and a buggy from Santa but Orla got an extra present, a pair of roller skates. “I was so jealous and spent all Christmas Day trying to bargain with her to give me the skates but to no joy!” Aine laughs.

And when Orla finally discovered the secret around Santa she “decided to think big and ask for a gold bracelet.  Now remember back in the 1970s we were lucky to get anything at all. I think she had that bracelet up until her twenties,” says Aine.

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PJ Flavin hasn’t spent a Christmas in his beloved Co. Kerry in 15 years. PJ, married to the lovely Elaine, lives in Yonkers and is missed by his family back in Ballylongford, especially by his dad and his sister Cecilia.

“We just want to wish PJ a very happy Christmas over in New York, we miss you and wish you all the best for 2014,” shared Cecilia.

One of Cecilia’s favorite memories of her big brother is getting up early on Christmas morning and opening up their presents.  As they got older the tradition of opening them on Christmas Eve took over.

“I think if PJ was home now we would be socializing more in our local bar known as the Rover’s Return,” said Cecilia.

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Marion Moriarty’s sister, Siobhan, hasn’t spent Christmas Day with her big sister in seven years. It’s a sad time for all the Moriartys in Killarney because Marion and their oldest sister Noreen, who lives in Boston for the past 14 years, are missing from the celebrations.

“Christmas is, and always was, so special in our house.  Our parents made sure of that every single year,” shares Siobhan.

“Myself and Marion were always treated like twins when we were smaller. Even though there’s three years between us we always wore the same outfits for our Santa picture, we got the same bikes in the same year but one year particularly sticks out in my head.

“I asked Santa for this stencil set.  I had my heart set on it and what happened?  He left it on Marion’s pile through no fault of his own of course, and do you think she would give it to me? Not a chance. We still laugh about it,” said Siobhan.

“What do we miss most about not having Marion and Noreen at home? It’s hard to put into words. It’s not just at Christmas time, it’s all year round. I miss the craic and their company. Anyone who knows Marion knows that she’s a bit of a hoot and will always lift the spirit no matter what mood you’re in. I just couldn’t put it into words what it would mean to have the whole family together even for just one day.”

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Liam Moore from Limerick was home in 2012 for Christmas and spent many nights catching up with family and friends. This year he will stay in New York, much to the disappointment of his family back home.

Liam’s niece Ashley told the Irish Voice that her favorite part of Christmas when Liam is around is “watching him fall asleep” after his dinner.

“We miss not having Liam home this year with all the family and we want to send a big happy Christmas message to him in New York and hope we see him in 2014,” said Ashley.

IT’S been more than a decade since Queens resident Bernice Hughes spent a Christmas in Dublin. Her sister Damaris told the Irish Voice she would love more than anything to have her little sister sitting around their Christmas table this year.

“And her nephew Reece would love to meet her in person too,” said Damaris.

“Christmases were always great when we were kids. The excitement on Christmas morning was wonderful, running downstairs to see what Santa left, opening presents and eating selection boxes. Christmas evening was spent in our Aunt Rose’s house in Sandymount where the Christmas party continued with all the cousins,” recalls Damaris.

“The whole family — Dad, Mam, Damaris, Damien, Ellen, Lee, Chloe and Reece all send hugs and kisses to Bernice for a great Christmas and New Year and we hope to see you soon.”