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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Christmas’

Well…we survived Christmas! Did you?

After all the fuss leading up to yesterday and the search for meaning and joy, I’m happy to say that though Christmas was nice enough, today, the Feast of St. Stephen, is particularly enjoyable. With no school or work to go to, no cooking or washing-up to be done, no unwrapping of presents or recycling of paper and boxes to hassle with, we four have been free to enjoy whatever we want. Ahh, the bliss of it!

Our day started with a walk and it is ending with a movie. The in-between hours have been taken up with fun stuff like make-up tutorials, manis and pedis {hey, we’re almost exclusively a house full of women here!}, reading the newspapers, eating leftovers, putting our feet up, and, for me, writing this post.

Anyone who is Irish knows the drill on Stephen’s Day…shopping, eating, relaxing, horse racing, and, if you live in the countryside, a visit from the Wren Boys.

We’ve never been visited by the Wren Boys but I’ve written about this very Irish tradition in books and articles before. My lovely blogger-friend over at A Silver Voice from Ireland has first-hand experience of the custom and wrote about it beautifully here. I’d write more about it but, quite honestly, I wouldn’t do it the justice A Silver Voice has.

The only other St. Stephen’s Day tidbit I’m going to leave you with today is this: St Stephen’s Day, the 26th December, is one of Ireland’s 9 public holidays {also known here as Bank Holidays} occurring each year. Most businesses and schools are closed. Other services, for example, public transport still operate but often with restricted schedules. To see the full list of public holidays in Ireland visit here.

A very happy Lá Fhéile Stiofán {or Lá an Dreoilín} to you and yours!

Related Articles:

A solid history of the tradition of St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland at http://blog.mikerendell.com/?p=564 and http://www.ouririshheritage.org/page_id__70_path__0p4p.aspx and

An Irish Times article on the Wren Boy tradition at http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/another-life-wren-boys-herald-tales-of-the-tiny-king-of-birds-1.1631979

A slew of Irish Christmas traditions at http://www.irishfireside.com/enewsletter/1206/1206holidaytrad.htm and http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/Christmas-in-Ireland.html and http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/StStephens.html and Top ten Christmas traditions observed by the Irish (PHOTOS) (irishcentral.com) and 12 Christmas Traditions That Are Truly Irish (youthvoiceireland.wordpress.com) and Irish Christmas Traditions (rjegrad.wordpress.com) and An Irish Christmas (inanirishhome.com) and In Ireland the day is one of nine official public holidays. (stairnaheireann.wordpress.com)

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but this year I’ve tried to keep it more “real” here at In an Irish Home. This all because my brother once commented after casually stopping by, “your site is nice but where’s the truth about what’s really going on behind your hall door?”

{Ouch! That kind of smarted. Using my blog’s tag-phrase against me! Leave it to a family member to really tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.}

Like so many bloggers, I focus almost exclusively on the nicer side of life through stories and photos. It seems, however, that all this nice-ness is causing a ruckus. Women, especially, are feeling inadequate trying to live up to all the perfection they read about in blogs and on Facebook, and see on Instagram and Pinterest {especially during the holidays}.

Personally, this new way of beating ourselves up leaves me scratching my head and thinking a lot about the conversations I have with my two young daughters about bullying and meanness and insecurity. Is it really the intention of these online journalists {myself included} to make others feel bad about themselves?

I think not.

If you visit In an Irish Home regularly, you know I am not perfect all the time. My children, our home, and our life are not perfect all the time. Heck, it’s not even true some of the time.

Case in point, here are just a few of the things I am not perfecting in the days leading up to Christmas:

1. My house. The “public places” {the spaces I’d let you see if you called in unexpectedly} are decent enough but the rest looks…well…in utter disarray! That’s as nice a term I can use to describe what feels like total chaos.

2. The Christmas cards. They are not yet sent. This year I ordered them from Tiny Prints (in America) and they completely screwed up the shipping. So, our family tradition of sending cards in time for the holidays has been “destroyed”. Yes, I know it’s a strong word but that’s exactly how I feel and what I said to the Tiny Prints manager when I spoke with her last week by phone. I quote, “Your company has single-handedly managed to DESTROY a tradition our family has kept for nearly 15 years now. A 25% discount is not good enough, thank you…nor is your second offer of a 75% discount. For DESTROYING our family tradition, your company should reimburse me 100%!” In fairness, they did. I’m still not happy.

3. The presents. There’s a stack of presents still waiting to be wrapped {even though I’ve wrapped a little bit every day for two weeks} and I’m starting to think it may be just good-enough to scratch off the price tags and stick a bow on the packages. The wrapping paper is only going to be ripped off and recycled on Christmas morning anyway…is it REALLY necessary to make them look pretty with festive paper? Oh the waste of time and money and energy!

4. The Christmas pudding. I haven’t made an Irish Christmas pudding this year and now it’s too late. The tradition of making a pudding in Ireland begins way back in November or, at the very least, early December. Now I’ll have to rush out and pay for one that’s been mass-produced in some factory…not very Martha Stewart or Rachel Allen of me.

5. Feeling joyful. In the last few days, I realised that I am feeling joy-less. Even with all the decorating done and the biscuits baked, and the gifts bought and in the post, I don’t feel a sense of real joy in our home yet. I think that because of all the decorating, wrapping, creating, baking, shopping, and hosting I have done with military precision, I have lost the true spirit of the season…Joy-full-ness!

And there you have it…the short list of all the things I’m not perfecting. I could go on but why bore you? The bottom line is there’s no perfection in our home. And, I suspect there’s none going on in anyone else’s home either.

Despite what we may see and read on the internet, none of us have any idea what’s going on behind the key tapping/lens of anyone’s public persona.

Let me share with you one last thing about “keeping it real” before I let you go…this morning we learned that a very dear friend of ours passed away during the night. Her adoring husband and three beautiful children have spent the past month saying their goodbyes and preparing themselves for her death. We all hoped it wasn’t really going to happen and none of us expected now. But it has.

Our hearts are broken for the loss of this friend. She was a good…kind…honest person. After a recent surgery, I called her for a chat. When I asked her what mattered most she told me simply, “family and friends”.

Not career. Not lifestyle. Not perfection…or Christmas presents…or clean house…or cards…or Christmas pudding. When our friend pared the meaning of life down to its simplest expression, what really mattered most were those she held dear. She told me life was too short to worry about the rest.

So, I’m leaving you today to find and create real joy with my little family. My wish for you and yours is that you find what’s real for you and you keep it close… now and the whole year through.

Happy Christmas!

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