You'll get through it...
If you’re back home for Christmas, welcome!
It may be the first time you’ve picked up the Leinster Leader paper since you were last back at your mammy’s (and while you’re here, may we point you in the direction of our rather excellent, revamped website here at at www.leinsterleader.ie, where you can keep up to date daily on local pitched battles, political infighting, potholes and, most importantly, who’s died in your home county, no matter where you are across the globe).
Kildare’s spare bedrooms will be filling up this weekend with returned sons and daughters, home to their auld stomping grounds for the holidays.
It’s the annual three-day fest of turkey, homesickness and stalking your ex on Stephen’s night… so here’s our three-step guide to surviving the important events of Christmas weekend.
YOUR YEARLY TRIP TO MASS:
The timing of your Christmas morning mass is crucial. Presuming you arrived in town on the late Christmas Eve bus and immediately headed straight for the pub, you’ve probably woken up under your old Star Wars duvet with a walloping hangover. If you’ve small nieces and nephews staying under the same roof, you may have had the misfortune of being clocked with a newborn Hatchimal as you unglue an eye and scrabble for the Solpadeine.
Even if you haven’t darkened the doors of a church since this time last year, grab the gaggle of youngsters and head for
There’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, it’ll get you out of peeling spuds/brussels sprouts or doing something disgusting to a turkey’s rear end. You’ll also get brownie points from your parents, who are probably still slightly miffed you didn’t spend Christmas Eve sipping sherry and watching the Nathan Carter Christmas Special.
There’ll be unlimited gratitude, too, from the owners of the children. Even the most non-religious will happily dispatch their
sugar-crazed offspring to the nearest house of worship in your company after a 5am start looking for Santa and a Selection Box for the breakfast.
Mass at Christmas, as everyone knows, is a one-stop-shop for gossip, talent spotting and entertainment.
The priest, at some stage, will pointedly welcome ‘those who only join us once a year’. Most of these sinners can be easily spotted as they still respond to the altar shout-outs with ‘also with you’ instead of the newfangled ‘with your spirit’.
The choir is a roulette that could go either way. They could produce a melodic menu of festive greats, or your already sore head could be taken off by some young one aiming for the O Holy Night high notes.
Other Mass pastimes include spotting who’s pregnant, gone to the dogs, lost weight or dead since the last time you came home, all of which can be reported back home for a bit of Christmas bonding.
There’s also the added excitement of betting on which kid will streak first for the altar, and seeing which parent can dive in for an ankle tap before they put the priest off his stride.
Afterwards, you can take the children to visit the baby Jesus in his crib and try explain to them the real story of Christmas. And how they should ask mammy and daddy to take them to Mass early single every Sunday. When you’re safely out of town.
At the Goal Mile in Clane last St Stephen's Day. Photo: Tony Keane
THE GOAL MILE:
The Goal Mile provides much of the same social and family advantages as Mass — a feelgood factor about doing something noble, getting the kids out of the way, getting pass-remarkable about your old schoolmates — but with most of the participants wearing lycra.
It’s one especially for the single pringle returnees, so they can clock which of the town’s most eligible to make a beeline for in the pub on Stephen’s night.
You may also spot demented solo parents with a gaggle of hopped up kids who’ve been screeched at to ‘get them OUT from under my feet!’ by the person responsible for cooking the Christmas dinner.
Acknowledge their grim torment with a rueful head-shake as you stroll past nursing your hangover.
ST STEPHEN'S NIGHT OUT:
For many, the annual massive night out is the one and only reason to head home for the holidays. It’s the best non-Facebook chance to stalk your secondary school ex and throw shade at your old enemies.
A few pointers to remember, though. While it’s tempting to throw caution to the winds, remember to maintain your dignity unless you want to be the talk of the town for the next 12 months. That means no ex-shifting and no handbags with your secondary school rival.
If you haven’t been near your local in the last year or so, you no longer ‘own’ your bar stool. Likewise, the taxi-man will take care of his new regulars first. Get over it.
You might be home for the holidays, but there’s a new order on things now. You’ll just have to roll with it.