“Christmas comes but once a year”, they say, to which I always reply, “But Christmas Eve comes first!”
Not just because of the fact it comes a day earlier, but because it happens to be my favourite day of the year.
As some friends and colleagues sleep off the night before and relish their lie-ins (which won’t feel as sweet given that Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year), I’m up and out the door, observing my own personal tradition of taking a long walk out into the middle of Dublin Bay or, in other words, along The South Wall. The view from the lighthouse at the end of the pier is stunning at any time of the year, but it’s something special on this particular day. Watching the ferries arrive, I like to think of the hundreds of people on board, and the ones I can see braving the elements out on deck waving, coming to visit or be reunited with loved ones and relations. Dublin Airport seems to have this iconic time and the imagery associated sewn up, but there’s something real and grounded about people landing on these shores aboard a ship.
Back on dry land, or at least a couple of miles more inland, I delight in embarking on a journey a lot of people go out of their way to avoid, and that’s the last-minute present shopping mission to Grafton Street. What fills many with fear plants a big smile on my face, and there’s nothing, not even a brolly in the eye or a stressed-out shopper walking on my toes, that can erase it. But shopping is only part of the Christmas Eve Grafton Street experience. I nail that with military precision and efficiency in about an hour with 3-for-2 offers to beat the band, crossing everyone, whether or not they’ve been naughty or nice, off the list as I go. No, this day is all about waiting for the sun, if indeed it ever managed to come up that morning at all, to go down.