THERE'S NOW less than two weeks to go until Chrismas Day, and all across the globes Irish immigrants are getting ready to come home.
With around one million of us expected to arrive back in the old homestead to visit this year, it got us thinking about all the thoughts most of us have in common when we're preparing for the long trek home.
"Cannot. Wait. To see. My Mammy."
Okay, before other family members feel left out-- of course we mean you too, but here the 'mammy' encapsulates your feelings for the entire family, cos 99% of the time she's the one holding it all together-- plus, she always makes the biggest fuss of you.
"Cannot wait to see the girls/lads!"
There is nothing like a Christmas sesh when you're reunited with the old gang-- sometimes it's like you revert back into the teenage days, especially when the 12 Pubs of Christmas almost guarantees that someone will get secondary school-style sloppy.
"CANNOT WAIT TO SEE MY DOG/ CAT / GOLDFISH"
As soon as you arrive home, you HAVE to greet your family pet first. It's the rules. Sure, you might have immigrated five years ago, but your dog knows he'll always be yours. Meanwhile, the cat will barely glance your way-- but you love her anyway.
"I wonder if __ will be visiting from Australia / Canada / Dubai / Literally anywhere"
If you're from a certain generation, and especially if you're from a smaller town, there's a high chance that a huge amount of people you used to know have also left the country, with some going so far that Christmas is the only time they can afford to come back to visit, and many more not even able to afford that trip. It's the best feeling when you bump into someone you haven't seen in years and the same friendship is still there.
"Should I check in another bag?"
You have enough clothes to last you the trip (Especially because you've packed enough clothes to last you several months, just in case) and you've just about managed to pack in the presents you're bringing the family, but what about all that Duty Free shopping? And what about the presents you're (hopefully) going to receive? And what about the mega pack of Tayto and Brennans bread and Ballymaloe relish you're undoubtedly going to try to squeeze in on the way back? Better check in two more just in case.
"What if my flight is cancelled?!"
The Worst Fear Ever for those preparing to fly home for the holidays. Most of the time it's an unfounded fear based on pure paranoia, but after some drones apparently halted all flights from Gatwick Airport for days last Christmas, that fear is more present than ever.
"I'm definitely going to go to mass this year."
It's what the holiday is all about, after all, and everyone will tell you there's nothing like the atmosphere at midnight mass-- but whether you actually follow through is a different story.
"God, I hope it snows."
Maybe more for those in sunny Australia rather than snowy Canada.
Snow in Ireland at Christmas is as magical as it is rare-- unless you live up in the mountains, that is-- but nine times out of ten it's just regular old rain, and the ocassional time it does snow, it melts away as soon as it hits the ground. Disappointing.
"I wonder what the TV line-up is for Christmas Day."
Every Harry Potter, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Father Ted Christmas Special... the list goes on. Get out that TV Guide!
"I can't believe I'm excited to watch adverts."
You don't realise until you move away how comforting it is to hear your own accent on the television, but typically, the national broadcaster RTÉ doesn't even play ads on Christmas Day.
"Jesus I can't wait for the dinner."
It's true. We dsidn't want to believe it as kids, but it's true: When you grow up, you're more excited for the big feast on Christmas Day than the presents (And the whole 'spending time with family' aspect, I suppose). The last few days in the lead-up to Christmas has you daydreaming about the spuds, gravy and all the rest. Anyone else hungry all of a sudden?
"I'm already sad about having to leave again."
Saying goodbye to the parents at the airport is always hard, but at Christmas-- after the build-up, excitement, long break off at home surrounded by family and then all of it coming to an end all too soon-- it's even harder. As soon as you're back in your adopted country though, it all goes back to normal and you get on with things, but it doesn't make the initial goodbye any easier.