Christmas in Dublin used to be the highlight of my year.
The twinkling lights waving back and forth above the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street, stopping off in Bewley’s for a sticky bun and steaming pots of tea and traipsing around town while you search for the ‘perfect present’ all had a certain charm.
I say ‘used to’, because this year I’ve been feeling uncharacteristically Grinch-like, and I fear that my beloved festive Dublin just isn’t the same – and may never be the same again.
The magic of a Dublin Christmas was the feeling that something unexpected was around every bend
Searching for gifts to tick off your list, you never knew what sort of exotic delight you’d find in the food hall in Marks and Spencer or the bargain basement at Arnott’s.
As I’d walk along the streets, shouts of ‘two for a euro’ and the overly-eager sound of buskers shaking bells became the background to every Saturday in December. I’d walk from Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre down along Grafton, through Powerscourt, stroll down to Henry Street, browse in Jervis and finish in the Ilac where a much needed fuel in Ann’s Bakery was the reward for a long day of cutting off the circulation in your hands with plastic shopping bags.
The thing that gets me now is that there’s literally no need to spend the day going in and out of fifty different shops in town. Either you’ve already bought the majority of things online, or you know already what will be in the shops.
There’s no whoosh of pleasant surprise when you spy that one little item that you know someone will love, because chances are you’ve already seen it somewhere on social media.
Has Christmas lost its spontaneity?
When you compare memories of going into Clerys to find a fancy outfit for Christmas day with grabbing a million bits from Penneys that chances are, you’ll never wear again, it’s just not the same is it?
Christmas in Dublin seems to have lost the feeling that it’s something to be savoured and treasured, and instead feels as though it’s something to “survive”. Survive the crowds, survive 12 pubs, survive until the New Year rolls around and we get our city back to its normal trudging along self.
It’s not just a Dublin thing, I know, but with stores hawking Christmas items and decorations from (in some cases) the end of the summer, it’s gotten to a stage where actual Christmas time feels like it’s not even real anymore.
The trauma of trying to navigate Grafton Street without photobombing someone’s selfie is now a standard Christmas challenge, and don’t even get me started on people trying to Boomerang their mulled wine.
I want Christmas to be felt again – to be really, truly felt in the heart’s of Dubliners. Not to be an excuse for treating yourself to new bits from BT’s or to boast on Instagram that you’ve all your shopping done and delivered to the office.
I want Christmas in Dublin to return to the exciting rush of spending your last fiver on a hot chocolate, and laughing because you had said you’d be home hours and hours ago
I know that the festive spirit of Christmas in Dublin is still there, hiding away in the cracks of a chipped tea cup in Bewley’s, waiting patiently in the wrapping paper section of Guiney’s.
Whether it’s just me or all of us who’s lost a bit of the magic this year, I’m determined to get it back the way it used to be.
Rushing over the H’penny Bridge to pick up the Christmas vegetables and spiced beef from Moore Street, and ending up sprawled on the kitchen floor showing your family all the presents and bits and bobs you stumbled upon in town that day.
Christmas in Dublin is the most wonderful thing in the world – I just have to make the effort to remember that.
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