From last minute shopping to slaving away in the kitchen all day, Laura Mulqueen argues that Christmas is nothing like the winter wonderland that films make you believe.
Generally speaking, movies are far fetched when compared to real life Ireland, but none more so than Christmas movies. What is this nonsense of sharing feelings and spending a week happilly locked in a house together. This isn't the only difference.  

When it does snow, it is the wrong time and probably just sludge. None of this thick, cold, fluffiness that falls delicately onto a girl's hair. No sir, our snow arrives in February or March. Christmas Day in Ireland is so rebellious it would either shine golden sun or pour miserable rain that sends the interior of kitchens to Medieval times. 
 
We do not wake up early to spend time together, except for Mammy to cook the dinner and Dad to go to mass. For us students however, we lounge around until twelve, grudgingly shave and marvel at the Santa presents we wrapped at one o'clock this morning.

Usually there is a box of Roses or Celebrations somewhere (a fresh box for Christmas day is opened) and these are snacked upon until, dinner time. 
 
Oh dear, "where's the masher?", "peel them potatoes", "stir that gravy", "hang on, why aren't you doing anything?" Too guilty to hide and too scared to help, we are all faced with this dilemna each year. The sweat is rolling off the cook's face as the helpers scurry around, trying not to burn anything to the sound of Christmas FM.

As soon as everyone is seated and there is a reassuring amount of gravy boats to travel around the table, the feast begins. Serenity and organisation just does not come into the equation of an Irish Christmas. 
 
At this point, all the stress is over and everyone retires to a suitable part of the house to pass out with food babies or watch a children's movie. More chocolates are distributed. A discussion of presents and sneaky steps involved in the gift buying process is revealed.

Mammy doesn't frown at the pint in your hand because, sure isn't it Christmas? We do not leave the house. We are locked in to either watch T.V. or play board games. If we have extended family they are in a far flung part of the planet like America and will not be visiting for Christmas dinner.  
 
Things stay static until the evening when hunger raises a faint paw in the air. Turkey sandwiches circle the house. A movie is decided upon.  We complain about the special repeated from last year and mourn that Christmas is over for another year.

Speaking of the year, sure isn't 2015 around the corner? Causing students across this tiny island to groan inwardly and hit the Irish Rail website to pre-book a cancellation-proof early ticket to college. Albeit loaded with food, gifts, and the sneaky bottle of wine that nobody will notice is missing.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Irish do Christmas.  

Photos: scott fledstein/ Flickr