Our writer is hit­ting the Big Ap­ple for Christ­mas

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - CONTENTS -

Are you hang­ing up your stock­ing on your wall? I’m not! Be­cause I’m run­ning away for Christ­mas. That’s right, you can ser­e­nade me with all the John Lewis tear­jerk­ers you can find, roast as many chest­nuts on as many open fires as you can light, but this year, I’m pack­ing a case and tak­ing my mother to our happy place – the bright lights of New York city.

That means no presents, no turkey or ham. In fact, I don’t even think I’ll put up a tree.

Be­fore you get all Scrooge on me, I’m not run­ning away from Christ­mas, I’m just es­cap­ing my crazy Ir­ish fam­ily, and all the mad­ness that comes with a Christ­mas at home. Plus, New York does the fes­tive sea­son way bet­ter than any­where else.

And why, you may ask? Purely self­ish rea­sons, of course. Do you re­mem­ber how Christ­mas felt as a kid: the ex­cite­ment of Santa, the smell of your mother’s honey-glazed ham cool­ing, the buzz of the elec­tric whisk to make the cream for the tri­fle, the sound of your fa­ther curs­ing as he tripped over your brother’s Scalex­tric?

Christ­mas as a child was al­ways a spec­ta­cle. Santa al­ways got me ev­ery­thing on my list, and then some. Be­ing the youngest of seven, it’s fair to say I was spoiled.

But then I grew up, and Christ­mas as an adult seems more fes­tive mood killer than stock­ing filler – in fact, one 2004 study from the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion sug­gests the stress of ➤

Christ­mas can ac­tu­ally give you a heart at­tack.

The anar­chy re­ally be­gins in Novem­ber. You’re tied to dead­lines to try and fin­ish all of your work by De­cem­ber 24 so you can ac­tu­ally take time off. When De­cem­ber rolls around, you’re re­liant on one pay­day to cover presents for ev­ery­one – and with five sis­ters, one brother, five neph­ews and one niece, that’s a lot of presents.

Then for the day it­self, you’ve to choose whose house you’re go­ing to. With all that afore­men­tioned fam­ily – and throw­ing in the ten dogs we have be­tween us – that’s a lot for a three­bed semi-de­tached in west Dublin to take.

Then, be­ing sin­gle at Christ­mas is just a big fat re­minder that you’re, well, sin­gle. You’re sit­ting with all your sib­lings and their other halves with no es­cape. Oh and that weird un­cle – is he even re­lated to us? – keeps ask­ing if you’ve found any­one yet, while you look to the dog for help.

That’s not to men­tion the ground­hog day-ness of it all. Your mother gets up at the crack of dawn to start the din­ner, moans about no one help­ing her, when you of­fer, she says you’re not do­ing it right.

Some neigh­bour you never liked any­way al­ways calls in right as you’re about to sit down to din­ner, so you’ve to wait an­other hour, and fill up on tea and bis­cuits while they’re there, while smil­ing through grit­ted teeth ev­ery time they ask your mother if you’re the one not mar­ried as if you’re not in the room.

Ev­ery­one wants to watch Love Ac­tu­ally for the 245th time, and just when you’ve in­vested in it and are at the scene where Emma Thomp­son cries into her Joni Mitchell CD, your brother-in­law switches to that ob­scure sport that doesn’t stop for Christ­mas Day.

In­evitably with a fam­ily this big, one sib­ling ends up drink­ing too much and fall­ing out with ev­ery­body for the next six months; and then ev­ery­one leaves with­out tak­ing the right presents and they all get mixed up.

So, to es­cape it all, I’ve booked into the fives­tar Bea­con Ho­tel on the Up­per West Side, over­look­ing Straw­berry Fields in Cen­tral Park and the Hud­son River. I plan on eat­ing and drink­ing my weight in fab­u­lous French food and wine come De­cem­ber 25.

I’ll wake up in my deluxe room, I might even avail of the fit­ness cen­tre at my dis­posal, and don my most fes­tive jumper and comfy eat­ing jeans be­cause I don’t have to worry about in-laws and neigh­bours knock­ing at the door.

I’ll rock around the Rock­e­feller Christ­mas tree, and stand with the hun­dreds of other tourists try­ing to video the pre­cise mo­ment the Saks Fifth Av­enue store lights up.

I’ll walk through Cen­tral Park with a gin­ger­bread cof­fee, and sing John Len­non songs around his me­mo­rial, be­cause even though it’s not John Lewis, ev­ery­one loves a cry on De­cem­ber 25. Then I’ll park my­self some­where cosy, most likely Rolf’s on 3rd Av­enue (left) which has the best Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, for some hot whiskeys, liv­ing my very own Fairytale of New York.

And how do I know all this? Well, hav­ing vis­ited the city a cou­ple of times be­fore – once for New Year’s Eve and once in sum­mer – I thought I’d squeezed ev­ery last dol­lar out of New York, but then my mother and I ex­pe­ri­enced the magic of Christ­mas there, and vowed never to spend an­other one at home in wet Dublin again.

So when I come back with air­port Toblerones for ev­ery­one – be­cause that’s all any­one is get­ting this year, I may even wrap them – I’ll set­tle back into my nor­mal rou­tine of see­ing the fam­ily once a week for Sun­day din­ner.

And I’ve plenty of time to start plan­ning my next Christ­mas bon voy­age...

Eva with her mother in New York at Christ­mas

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