I was asked by a well known Irish website to share my thoughts about Christmas abroad and what Christmas is like for me in London. For some reason, they didn’t publish it, so I thought I’d share it here with you.
This will be my fifth Christmas living in London, I lived here for a year in 2002 and returned here in 2013.
I’m really lucky, my work schedule has meant I’ve been able to home most years. I’ve only been away from home for one.
This year, I’m heading home to Co. Meath. Christmas Eve is nearly a bigger thing in our household. All my siblings and my nieces and nephews gather in my parent’s house. Lots of food, lots of excitement and lots of noise!
It’s funny! I try to get home as much as possible. This year, I managed to get home for a day in early December. Every year my Mum tells me that the tree isn’t up yet, they wanted to wait until I was at home to put up the Christmas tree. Surprise! It’s always up when I get there. The tree is a big thing at home. Decorations have been collected for decades.
What I Miss about Dublin
Being away from home, you definitely miss the build up to Christmas with family and friends. Even when I do get home, time is always limited so I try to squeeze as much in as possible.
One of the biggest things I miss about Dublin is just bumping into friends and going for coffee. So when Christmas comes around, I try to meet as many as possible before they head off to have their own Christmas. When you’re at home, you often don’t notice the changes that happen in a city, so meeting friends in their new favourite haunt is a great way of keeping up and rediscovering Dublin.
The Madness of Oxford Street
I’ve been trying to stay away from the madness of Oxford Street. I’m not sure I have the energy to battle against wave after wave of shopper just to get one item of clothing in a sale. One of my favourite things ever is being able to walk down O’Connell Street early in Christmas Eve, with my arms stretched out wide and not hit anyone.
It’s strange in ways. London is in another country but it’s just another commuter town for so many people. If I lived in Cork, it would take me longer to get home. You create new traditions in your own life, whether your at home or not.
Trying to avoid the Oxford Street ridiculousness, one new tradition myself and Talulah have acquired is walking along London’s Southbank on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. There’s Christmas Markets with craft makers stalls and mulled wine galore and carousels. If you wander to the Tate Modern, the market is slightly quieter there. It’s lovely walk and usually at this time of year, London’s famous fog adds to the Christmas feel. The afternoon is completed by our now traditional Japanese curry and sushi.