‘It will not feel the same as it did at home because I am not at home’ - Stories about Christmas from around the world

Kate Ashe-Leonard wrote about Christmas on a sailboat; we heard expectations of what Christmas would be like in Australia from Laura Kennedy; and Jane spoke about her trip home into Dublin Airport

Welcome to the December issue of the Abroad Newsletter, the newsletter is arriving a little early this month to encompass Christmas plans sent to us from across the globe. This month we heard about different Christmas traditions Irish people had while living abroad. As the end of the year draws near, we at The Irish Times would like to wish you a safe and happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Kate Ashe-Leonard writes about her expectations for this Christmas, following a year of feasting on duck on white, sandy beaches in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That year, herself and her husband “counted nine boats in the anchorage, all European – all a long way from home”. This year, with the ambition to stay in Australia for Christmas, Kate prepares to celebrate her first Christmas onboard Polaris docked in a city. Surrounded by friends, with lions roaring and fireworks lighting the sky, we’ll ring in another New Year on the water, uncertain of where we’re headed next.

Laura Kennedy talks about Christmas in Australia in the height of summer – the opposite of Ireland at this time of year - despite the familiar images of Christmas trees and fairy lights. “It will not feel the same as it did at home because I am not at home. So I try to inhabit the vast space Canberra has given me and endeavour to embrace this new openness that lies between Canberra and home.” Laura acknowledges her first Christmas in Canberra will “undoubtedly be an odd one” but she talks about finding a new way to celebrate and appreciate the time of year.

Jane Gracia says there is nothing more magical than flying in to Dublin airport for Christmas each year. She writes about her time moving from Carlingford, to Mallora with her family of four but her love for Mallora started many years beforehand. She met her husband while working as a travel agent in Spain and it was only after spending time in Ireland that “somewhere within us, we wanted the nomad life again”. However, each December, a countdown begins as “the return ‘home’ for Christmas” looms and with it the thrill of getting on a plane to Ireland.


E-scooters are the topic of a piece by Laura Kennedy where she looks at a comparison between the public reaction to them in Canberra and Dublin. “The e-scooters all around Canberra can be rented through an app, and I find them a highly efficient way of getting about the centre of the city”. She compares this to the Irish attitude towards them where “new Irish regulations are coming to limit the use of e-scooters to cycle lanes, the over-16s and a 20km speed limit”. The difference in public reaction seems to be quite different in both nations.

Dublin man Tom Hatton followed the well-trodden path of Irish expats to Australia after completing his education here. “I applied for my visa while on the Dart, I came back to my mum who was asking how the job interview went and I said well I think I might have some other plans,” he said. Hatton chose to move to Sydney where “you’re more likely to hear Irish accents than Australian” while walking outside.

In other stories from Australia, Declan Keane reviews Melbourne’s coffee culture and weather woes and compares them to Ireland. Declan moved to Australia with his partner Anna in July of this year and “seven countries and two weddings later” he watched Limerick lift the Liam MacCarthy cup from half way around the world. “The adventures of getting to Melbourne are the makings of another article. Instead, let me give you some musings on my time in Melbourne.”

Emma Dooney who now lives in London writes about how she views homesickness as a privilege as it shows “I will always have somewhere to call my home”. She writes about how she is volunteering in a soup kitchen in London “a street kitchen that serves a large Irish community”. In the piece, she reminds the reader that homesickness is painful but it also serves as a reminder that she was treated well at home. She asserts, “the next time I weep for my country, I will keep in mind all those expats who have been denied the privilege of nostalgia”.