Could it be a white Christmas in Ireland? The odds are good. Paddy Power (an Irish bookmaker) is paying 3-1 for snow on Christmas Day. And if today’s blanket of snow across the country is a sign then we are in luck.

Snow, actual real snow, lay on the tops of cars this morning (Monday). It was evenly disturbed across the front gardens of the houses I looked out at in Limerick, and tire marks were clearly visible disturbing the fallen snow on the road. It was a sight to behold.

Now it wasn’t the usual six inches we would get in New York but it was a start. A beautiful start to Christmas, and a wonderful start to my day.

The temperatures are hitting below zero here. The people of Ireland are beside themselves with worry about the roads freezing, and rightly so. It’s extremely dangerous so caution is a necessity, but it’s still beautiful.

I can’t ever remember snow on Christmas Day in Ireland. Maybe once when I was very young, but a white Christmas in Ireland is a very rare sight.

This year will be my first Christmas in Ireland after seven years abroad. I am super excited.
You forget when you are away for so long what an Irish Christmas encompasses – shopping, visiting relations and friends, more shopping, eating and drinking, reunions with school friends, former work colleagues and distant relations.

This Christmas is also my first as a married woman, which means I now have two families to consider when shopping, planning nights out and cups of tea in. As John (my husband) is from Limerick and I’m from Kerry (approximately 90 minutes away) a lot of our time will be spent driving the N21, but we don’t mind in the slightest.

Ireland’s Christmas cheer is in full swing. Every couple of miles on the main roads and every 30 or so houses in the towns we are treated to spectacular displays of colorful lights outside Irish homes.

Some of the homes are stand-alone mini mansions, others are modest semi-detached homes, but the size of the house isn’t a factor. It’s the size of the Christmas spirit that counts, and Christmas spirit is still alive and well in good old Ireland.

John and I were in Dublin last weekend on our honeymoon and were blown away by how festive the city was. We had the pleasure of attending the Christmas market down by the Dublin Docklands. We had to queue for quiet a substantial amount of time to get access to the various Irish vendors so we could purchase some of the bits and bobs.
Christmas music was played in the background while food stalls selling chocolates and pancakes were serving at lightning speed. There was a sense of happiness and joy about the place that money could never buy. It was contagious, and I was drinking it all by the minute.

A number of walks around the city put a smile on our faces. Christmas carolers entertained us from various schools in Dublin. Shopkeepers saluted us with a friendly Merry Christmas, and locals from Dublin laughed with the visitors as an entertainer sprayed in sliver from head to toe and pretending to be a statue would make a sudden move.

The lights adorning the city were something else. Every street was lit up like a high wattage light bulb, and every store had Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” pumping from their radios.

We took a few minutes out of our day to discuss how lucky we were to be able to experience such joy and happiness in such tough economic times in Ireland. Although people may not be spending as fluidly as they may once have, their Christmas spirit is as bubbly and alert as it always was.

We have had some wonderful Christmases in New York with our great friends (our New York families) Marion and Noreen Moriarty, Tara and Aidan Tobin, Liam Moore and Damien Mescall, and some wonderful dinners in Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers were had, but nothing can compare to being in Ireland – at home – for Christmas.

I look forward to waking up on Christmas morning in my mother-in-law’s home in Limerick to the smell of the turkey and ham in the oven, to the shrills of excitement from John’s two nieces and one nephew as they unwrap their Santa gifts in Granny’s, and to attending Mass in our Christmas day outfits – purchased specifically for the day – with the Mooney family.

After a fry-up in the Mooney household we will visit John’s many aunts and uncles and sit down for dinner about 5 p.m. Christmas night, they tell me, is a real treat. Everyone gathers in John’s aunt’s house down the road where stories are told, songs are sung, cards are played and several alcoholic beverages are consumed until the early hours of the following morning.
We will then head back to Kerry and do it all again with my family on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26).

I’m sure there will be many Irish immigrants in the U.S. reading this today saying how blessed we are to have the opportunity this Christmas to be with our families. We truly are and we are thankful for that every single day.

To them I say one Christmas your time will come, and when it does it will be so special, but for the moment hang tough, put the turkey on, find that Irish Christmas spirit inside of yourself and make the most of your New York Christmas. Who knows, next year you may be sitting across from your mad uncle listening to him tell stories about you when you were a child.

Merry Christmas to all our friends in New York. See ye all in January.