The very first Christmas I spent in Ireland was about 19 or 20 years ago now. We were at the time living in the UK and on Boxing Day as we then knew it we would often wander up to Reading or into Basingstoke for a little post Christmas browsing. Sometimes this would be the ‘returning of presents’, at others ‘spending Christmas money’ or sometimes it really was just for something to do. Anyway, on arriving in Ireland that very first Christmas here we set out, on what living here we now call not Boxing Day but St Stephen’s Day, for a drive into the city. We did think the roads were very quiet on the drive in and when we got there we discovered why. Not a single thing was open! Not a shop, nor a cafe, nothing!!!!! And the day after, the 27th was exactly the same. Everything closed from late on Christmas Eve through to around December 28th.
Fast forward that 19 or 20 years and the sales began today St Stephen’s Day. From the ads on the radio I think just about everywhere is open, a big difference from when we first came here.
I’m not sure when this change occurred really but I think it has been a gradual thing, a slow slide into open all hours as it were. A shift from most people having a few days off, time to spend away from the work environment, time to celebrate, to be with friends and family, to reflect, to plan or even to just recharge, to, if you are unlucky, just having one day off to do everything in.
Sitting here in the kitchen, the rain hammering on the window I’m wondering if this change is in fact progress or if in the name of progress we have actually lost something important.
Me, I’m not going near the sales. Having got used to not going shopping over the holiday period it’s one tradition I’m holding on to. After a couple of days with friends, eating, drinking, laughing, sharing, I’m going to spend this one just being.