At this time of the year, you can see numerous videos of Irish people surprising their family with a visit home. Spending time with your family at Christmas is important in many countries, but particularly in Ireland, probably due to the emigration history of the country. So it's hard not be emotional when you see people meeting their loved ones at the airport on Christmas eve.
Even if I only spent one Christmas in France over the past 14 years, I always check the flights as early as July or August, just to see if we could make it home for Christmas. And every time, the price is extortionate. I mean, even if I had a thousand euros handy, I wouldn't spend it on a Ryanair flight. Add to that a rental car, and the holidays could cost as much as going to the other side of the world. And talking about the other side of the world, we did try to go to Mauritius for Christmas once, but at 4000 euros the ticket, we quickly forgot about it.
We did manage to go to France once, when I was on maternity leave with my second child. We had a good time, but it had been so long since I spent Christmas with my parents, that the spirit didn't feel the same. I have memories of spending Christmas eve with my parents, brother and sister, eating delicious finger food and drinking champagne, watching silly programs on TV and exchanging presents at midnight. When I was a child, we would put the Christmas tree up all together, put our slippers next to the chimney, and have an extended family lunch on Christmas day. Then we would spend days eating chocolates...Ah, memories!
But I had been in Ireland for 9 years already when I went home for Christmas for the first time. Most of my uncles and aunts that would have been present on Christmas day had passed away. My brother came for lunch, but my sister only came in the evening. I was so tired on Christmas eve (a 4 months baby didn't help) I think I went to bed before midnight. Most of my friends spent time with their own family, which is completely understandable, so I didn't really get to see them as much as I would have liked.
I had a nice time and I did spend quality time with my family, but for some reasons, it wasn't as "exceptional" as some summer holidays I spent there. I guess I liked the idea of going home for Christmas, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I was hoping for a Christmas like the ones I had, back when I lived in France, and it just wasn't the same.
"Home" for Christmas? Well, it looks like "home" is in Ireland now, where I've been making new Christmas memories for the past 14 years and where my kids will make some of their own.