Saturday, 10 December 2011

Alice finds her (Winter) Wonderland...

So here I am, curled up in my much-longed-for window seat, Chris Rea blaring, watching as a series of dads fall out of their front doors, attempting to untangle themselves from endless strings of lights; their children running excitedly in circles around the garden, and their wives leaning cosily against the wall clutching hot chocolate. The street is a sparkly red and gold blur, and the only thing brighter than the O'Connors' front lawn is their jolly Grandad's red nose.
This can mean just one thing.


And it's not just December anymore, oh no. I opened door number 10 on my bright pink princess advent calendar today. Which means it's only 2 weeks and 15 sleeps until parents the world over are woken up at 5am with squeals of 'He's been, he's been!'

 Which, in turn, means that all you Scrooges that have been rolling your eyes and telling me 'It's too early' can go back into hibernation until next November thank you very much.

I am officially allowed to be excited.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I can get ever so slightly excited about my birthday. By anyone that knows me I mean anyone that was in the West Midlands around my 20th, Dublin around my 21st, France around my 22nd and...well, you get the idea.

But Christmas is different. I love Christmas for way too many reasons to list here. For a start, it's the only time of year that even Primark feels as magical as Disneyland. Everywhere you go is buzzing with Christmas spirit; children and adults alike snuggle under hats and scarves, couples ice skate, lights twinkle, trees sparkle, not to mention always being within hearing distance of a Nat King Cole hit. Elf is on television again, the X factor final is looming, and there's the annual suspense of Whether It Will Snow On Christmas Day.

However. The main reason that I love Christmas is that it is the one time of year that the whole family come together. No excuses. I have spent most of the last four years away from home which, for someone who actually enjoys her family's company, and is lucky enough to call the world's most beautiful, intelligent and funny girls her best friends, is no easy feat.

Don't get me wrong, I have loved every second of my time away from home and wouldn't change it for anything. But I honestly believe that the reason that I am able to do this for 362 days of the year is that I know that for these three days a year, I will definitely be back in the company of the four most important people in the world.

This year I was presented with a multitude of offers to be away for Christmas. I could have been skiing in the Alps, frolicking in Lapland or sunning myself in Egypt.

What would you have done?

This decision was one of the hardest I have ever made. Do my dream job abroad for potentially a year, or be at home for those three important days?

Except, it's not three days, is it? As pointed out to me (oh so many times) by my friends The Scrooges, the build up to Christmas starts far earlier than Christmas Eve. There's the shopping, the pantos, the Santa-meet-and-greets, the fake snow, Disney on Ice...the list goes on. Then there are the memories. The faces when they open the presents you painstakingly chose and wrapped. The time you had to read the joke five times to Grandad before he heard it, and ten times before he understood it. The time Grandma played Butt Head and forgot to take the hat off before she took the bins out and bumped into Mary-Next-Door. The tradition of arguing over what to watch on tv then falling asleep in front of it anyway.

Butthead: Classic Christmas Day game

There was no way I could allow all that to happen without me.

So instead, I came to freezing cold, struggle-to-understand-everybody, buses-may-as-well-not-run Ireland.

And I am lucky enough to be living with one of the kindest, funniest and most entertaining families on the Emerald Isle. Not only that- but they love Christmas as much as I do. Which means that I am spending the all-important build up with this wonderful, warm, super-excitable family, New Year with my handsome Irish Prince, and those three special days with my favourite family of all.

So as I go along with my beautiful host mum and her gorgeous two boys to visit Santa, take a ride on the magical train at Dundrum, and squeal every time we see so much as a bauble, I know I made the right decision.

Maybe I'll go to Egypt for the Summer, but for the minute, Alice has found her Winter Wonderland just here.

Merry Christmas :)

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