Holidays Elsewhere

I feel like I just celebrated Christmas and New Years not too long ago. Oh right, I did.

On a rainy July night in Killarney, Ireland, my fellow hostelers and me walked into The Grand for drinks and a little dancing. We were bombarded with loads of tinsel, “All I Want For Christmas is You” pumping over the speakers, and people in antler ears and Chrismas sweaters.

Unbeknownst to us, it was the Christmas in July party. (Is that a thing? Or do the Irish just make up reasons to party?) Between whiskey and ciders, we joined all the drunk holiday revelers on the dance floor. Everyone sang at the top of their lungs every time “Fairytale of New York” played, which was many times. Fake snow swirled from the ceiling to the dance floor and around 3 am the dj declared the end of Christmas and rushed us back out into the pub to ring in the new year. We all wrapped our arms around each other, belting “Auld Lang Syne.” We counted down from ten and colorful confetti spewed into the air, joining the white flakes stuck in our hair. 

The feel of the holiday spirit welling up in our hearts was unignorable as we all walked back, beaming, in the summer rain, to the hostel. 

The other time I celebrated the holidays on my travels was for real. I spent Christmas on board the Africa Mercy in Madagascar. It was my first time being away from any family on Christmas and my first time in a different country for the holidays. The galley staff made a beautifully gigantic brunch for the crew. Everyone set a pair of shoes outside their door for people to leave tiny gifts, goodies and cards in. 

We stood outside on the dock, in the drenching heat of a Southern Hemisphere summer with lit candles melting in our hands while we cooed “Silent Night” and laughing along to the Australian version of “Jingle Bells.” (Dashing through the bush/in a rusty Holden Ute/kicking up the dust/esky in the boot)

In the evening, all the families opened their cabins, so we could all go around and visit and eat sugary things. My cabinmates and I got the zany idea to utilize my newly acquired ukulele skills to sing a carol at every cabin. We sang “Jingle Bell Rock” about 11 times that night.

The New Year was rung in with musicians sharing a song or two on their chosen instrument. (Not me this time.) We made a sparkling apple cider toast and watched the fireworks burst and glisten on the projector screen above the ship’s cafe.