A Very Special Christmas: Three Irish Women On Why This Festive Season Will Be One To Remember

From new babies to first shared Christmases, we're feeling the love this year.

Laurna Roche, 26, is looking forward to this Christmas after returning home from Australia and welcoming her new baby boy

“Christmas for me has always been about me and the five members of my family. Christmas Day is the only day that my dad has taken off from his business and closed the doors for the last 16 years. We spend Christmas Day doing absolutely nothing, we wear our PJs all day, we sit around, drink too much and eventually have our Christmas dinner around 6pm. Overall we really just enjoy spending time together.

Last year was the first year I missed Christmas at home. I was living in Australia, absolutely loving it, but Christmas Day was one of the hardest days of my life. I spent the majority of the day crying and it didn’t feel like Christmas at all, although I was on the beach, surrounded by such a beautiful place and people, I was miserable and never felt so alone. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.

In June my life changed forever, I found out I was seven months pregnant. In the space of 48 hours packed up my whole life, left all my friends and returned back to Ireland, even though I should have been excited I was devastated to be leaving my life. I was also going to be doing it alone; having a baby wasn’t in my plan but having a baby alone definitely was not.

Now my baby is 11 weeks old, my life has changed forever and I couldn’t be more in love with my little boy. This Christmas is going to be the best one yet. I’m back with my family again and with a new addition. I’m looking forward to all our usual Christmas activities but now we have the extra excitement of having Santa again, of having all the little Christmas costumes and really just being kids again ourselves. But most of all I’m just looking forward to us all being together.

I’m so grateful for having such an amazing family, who have showed me that as long as we have each other that’s all that matters, and for me that’s what Christmas is all about. I’m really looking forward to making it the best one yet.”

Nicole O’Connor, 23, is looking forward to a ‘normal’ Christmas with her boyfriend and baby daughter after suffering a family loss earlier in the year

“This time last year I came back from my Christmas party to be told my stepfather’s cancer was terminal and that there was nothing more they could do. It really ruined Christmas for me. A few years before that, I received a phone call informing me a close friend was in a coma before brain surgery. I also have epilepsy. So while I love Christmas, Christmas doesn’t seem to love me. However this year is different. This year is my first Christmas living with my boyfriend and my baby girl’s first Christmas ever, and also my epilepsy is finally under control. So I am determined it will be the best one yet! Full of decorations, carols and hopefully snow.

I am the most Christmas-y person you will ever meet, and that is not going to change. I have matching pyjamas planned, a visit to see Santa, elf outfits for Christmas Eve, a Late Late Toy Show full of food to enjoy and a Christmas dinner to make for the first time. Then there will be visiting after dinner with plenty of desserts and tea to be had. My boyfriend’s family like to have loads of desserts and then it will be on to my Mam’s for biscuits, tea and plenty of board games. It’s been a tough year so Christmas is just what I need.

Despite all the bad news I usually get at Christmas, there is something about dark nights and a Christmas tree lit up that makes me feel safe and happy. I can’t wait to see my baby’s reactions to the music and lights. I can’t wait to know if she will cry when she sees Santa or whether she will throw him dirty looks. I can’t wait to see her face as she sees all the brightly lit up lights. I essentially just can’t wait to experience Christmas for the first time with my own little family and start our own Christmas traditions. It may not seem like the best Christmas to most but to me it is going to mean the world. It’s looking like we will be spending Christmas Eve going to midnight mass with my family and then it will be home to read stories to Amelia and prepare for Santa’s arrival. There will be a candle lit for my stepfather. The next morning we will wake up and see what Santa has brought Amelia and exchange gifts.

I usually don’t see my boyfriend Donal from the 23rd until Stephen’s Night, so this is the first time we will see each other Christmas Day too. We’ll have a nice fry up for breakfast, watch some TV and play with Amelia as we wait for dinner! In my books this will be my first normal Christmas.”

Christina Prendergast, 26, and her long-term Finnish boyfriend Patrick will be spending their very first Christmas together when they fly home to Ireland this year

“I’ve been living abroad in Finland for almost three years now and even though Finland is essentially the home of Christmas, I’ve yet to spend one here. Every year at Christmas, myself and my boyfriend of six years say our goodbyes in a crowded airport terminal and I head home to Ireland, while he stays here in Finland with his family.

When you’re in a relationship with someone of a different nationality to you, Christmas can become a bit of a logistical nightmare. We’ve been saying for years that we really should spend our first Christmas together, but with two sets of friends and family all wanting to catch up, it’s always just been easier for us to go our separate ways and then reunite again once all of the Christmas madness is over.

Despite it always having been my favourite time of the year, since meeting Patrick, Christmas has become slightly bittersweet for me. As much as I feel lucky to have been able to fly home for Christmas (something I know not every emigrant can do!), whenever I’m on that flight to Dublin – something always feels missing. This year, we decided to bite the bullet and start our ‘year on/year off’ Christmas routine. To my delight, we’re starting off in Dublin, which is making Christmas 2018 one I know I’ll never forget.

Patrick’s family were extremely understanding about us being in Ireland this year. Wishing you could be in two places at the same time becomes a recurring thought, and the feeling of ‘FOMO’ becomes less about the fear that you’re missing out on something, but rather, a fear that someone’s just simply missing you.

With Christmas being such a constant in my life, I never expected that it could lose any of the magic I’d grown up yearning for all year. I’ve always been the type of person to get that fuzzy feeling whenever the lights are switched on in Dublin, or when I start seeing boxes of Quality Street and Roses appearing in the shops. Since meeting Patrick though, I’ve realised that no amount of Christmas magic or spirit can replace a person. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year but without him around, it almost stopped feeling whole for me.

Booking two tickets home from Helsinki this year instead of just one has made me realise just how much I’ve been missing that true sense of Christmas spirit the last few years. The thought of having everyone in the same place this year brings about a level of happiness inside of me that I can’t even begin to put into words. Dinners have been arranged, drinks have been planned, and of course, there’s two fresh sets of Penneys pyjamas awaiting our arrival on Christmas Eve. Living abroad isn’t always easy, but sure Christmas always flies in!”

Happy little update: Christina got in touch after this piece was published in the Dec/Jan issue to let us know that Patrick had proposed. Congrats to the happy couple! We must buy a hat.


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