We had Christmas Decorating wars at work this week where each section of the office was going up against each other in a battle of who could decorate their area the best. We decided to go with a Grinch/Whoville theme as it is one of the best (and my favourite) Christmas movies however, much to our disappointment we ended up loosing to a Polar Express theme, a “snow experience” ( a bucket of Styrofoam beads, which I must say was pretty cool) and a pretty nifty home made snow globe machine. Although we lost I thought I’d share some of our Grinch/Whoville decorations anyway!
Many hours were put into these creations and although unfortunately we did not win, I’m still pretty impressed by our hidden artistic talents we managed to uncover!
I love traditions and our routine at Christmas is something I look forward to every year. Although some traditions have changed in the last few years some have stayed the same even though I’m technically an “adult now”.
Christmas Eve Shopping
My brother, dad and I used always go into town to do a last bit of shopping (usually to get mam’s present cause she was with us every other time we went shopping!) Although now we’re usually much more prepared in our Christmas shopping, myself and my brother generally always go into town on Christmas Eve. I love just walking around a busy town on Christmas Eve watching everyone rushing to get their last few bits, plus we’re killing two birds with one stone as we’re not cluttering up the house as dad is preparing the Christmas Ham!!
One of my favourite parts of Christmas Eve as a child was having my “Christmas bath” and getting a new pair of pyjamas. Thankfully my parents know I’m still a really big kid at heart and I still get my new pyjamas every Christmas Eve!
Christmas Morning Routine
As kids my brother and I shared a room and me being the younger more excitable child, I always woke SUPER early! I remember a couple of times being sent back to bed cause it was way too early! Luckily for me Santa always left our stockings at the end of our beds so when I did wake super early I had some gifts to keep me occupied in the early hours of Christmas morning. At a more respectable hour of the morning my brother went upstairs to my parents room to give them their presents from us.
One rule in our house was that we were never allowed open our under the tree presents until after we had our breakfast. After a quick scoff of a bowl of coca-pops, when the fire was lit and the video recorder was set up my brother an I were allowed to open our presents.
As we’ve grown up this has changed quite dramatically, for one I don’t get up SUPER early anymore, in fact in more recent years, all my family is up before me and I have to be nearly dragged out of the bed. I blame college and exams on this one so here’s hoping this year might be different!
Just before dinner on Christmas day my mam’s brother always pop in for a cup of tea and some foxes biscuits on his way to dinner in my mam’s sisters house. I don’t see this uncle as often as I see a lot of my other relatives but it’s lovely to get to catch up over Christmas.
Dessert Stops 1 & 2
After dinner every year we go to see my Granny. This is probably my favourite part of Christmas. Ever since we were kids we always went into Granny’s house to show off all the cool stuff Santa brought us and spend a couple of hours there with dad’s family. This is still very much a big part of our Christmas day and is still my favourite part because I get to see so many relatives in the one place. Plus it’s also the first stop on our mini dessert tour!
Dessert stop number 2 is in my dad’s brothers house. As I mentioned before there is a bit of an over lap of godparents and godchildren between this family and mine so a lot of time is spent here, presents are exchanged and many more desserts are eaten.
Sandwiches, Movies & Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special
It wouldn’t be Christmas day without coming home after eating all those desserts and not having turkey, stuffing, & ham sandwiches taytos and chocolate while watching the newest Disney movie of the year and staying up to watch the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Special.
St. Stephens’ Day
St. Stephen’s day was always special to me cause that’s when Mam’s dad would visit us fro Christmas. He’d come out for Stephens Day dinner which was always cold turkey & ham with chips. Since Granddad passed away in 2009 Stephen’s day just doesn’t feel the same anymore as we have no tradition it’s just like any other ordinary day in the McNamara household.
As I said in a previous post, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore, I tend to make goals for myself for the year and try to focus on achieving them throughout the year rather than giving up on my resolutions 2 weeks in.
One of my goals this year was to take a photography class – which I did do, but I find it difficult, or else I stop myself, from going out and actually using my camera. I bought my DSLR camera 3 years ago and I’m still not sure how to use it properly. Next year I would love to somewhat master it and actually start using some of the functions on it rather than just auto!!
I guess it’s safe to say I’ve some what been bitten by the travel bug and there are so many places on my wishlist to go to but the big one for 2018 is my trip to Philadelphia and Chicago (and hopefully a day in New York, just cause) with my brother. It’ll be the first time myself and my brother go on holidays together outside of family holidays and I’m really looking forward to seeing other parts of the US.
A sun holiday this year will also be a must come the summer, I’m not 100% sure where I’d like to go yet but somewhere where I can sit, relax and enjoy many a strawberry daiquiri!
I definitely want to do some city breaks next year. There’s been a few places pretty high on the list for the last while including London, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam and I’d love to go back to Edinburgh again. Obviously all of these are not possible next year especially since I’ll be saving most of my pennies for my long awaited trip to Melbourne in 2019 but I definitely want to get one or two in before the year is out!
It’s always a goal of mine to include some charity events and the main one I always make make the time to do is the Darkness Into Light Walk for Pieta House. For the last 4 years, usually on the morning of one of my college exams myself and my mam have walked the 5km walk for Pieta House to raise money and awareness for the suicide and self harm crisis center. There’s something about this walk I find really inspiring, I’m not sure if it’s the dedication of the participants and volunteers who get up in the middle of the night to do the walk, the fact that it’s a global event to raise awareness for these issues or the feeling you get after completing it, whatever it is, it is incredible and it’s something I want to be a part of for as long as I can.
For the last 2 years mam and I have done the Cook Medical Women’s Mini Marathon, although it’s a bit tougher it’s definitely something I would like to do again this year.
Although I do love my home comforts and the fact that I live 10 minutes from where I work, this year I want to move out of my parents house and into somewhere in the city. This has been on the cards for a while now and I think next year it’ll be time to bite the bullet and become an actual grown up!
Speaking of being a grown up, one thing I’ve been massively struggling with lately is managing my spending and my savings, or lack there of savings. I’ve a lot of stuff coming up, including that trip to Australia, so saving and minding my money will unfortunately have to be a big priority for 2018.
One thing I’ve seriously let slide since starting college is my fitness. I was never super fit but I was always active since I was a child between playing camogie, Gaelic football, basketball and Irish dancing but after my first semester in college I gave up the last sport I played which was basketball and since then I haven’t really gotten back into exercise at all. Next year I definitely need to try and do some form of activity. I kind of want to give boxercise a try but I haven’t managed to find a gym near me that does it.
I definitely want to become more consistent with my posts next year and keeping my blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages more up to date with new content frequently. I’m already trying to plan out my January posts!
When I was trying to pick out my favourite songs for this post, I realised I’m a real sucker for Christmas songs, so I have quite the lengthy list for my Christmas Playlist.. but because I’m super nice, if you don’t feel like reading the entire list just skip to the end where there’s a link to my Spotify Christmas playlist!
All I want for Christmas is you – Marhia Carey
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – Johnny Mathis
Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
A holly jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
White Christmas – Elvis Presley
Have yourself a merry little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Andy Williams
Merry Christmas everyone – Shaken Stevens
O Holy Night – (not sure which singer I prefer this by but I love the song)
The Little Drummer boy – Johnny Cash. Also Bing Crosby & David Bowie’s version
Merry Christmas everyone – Slade
Silent Night – Elvis Presley
Step into Christmas – Elton John
This Christmas – Picture This
Happy X-Mas (War is Over) – John Lennon
Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty McColl
There’s definitely so much more so I’ll probably be updating the spotify playlist as I find more of the songs I love!
Well, 2017 you’ve been interesting! You were off to a pretty rocky start trying to balance final year of university with working part time and trying to cope with all the stress that that brought on.
January to May was probably the busiest, most stressful and exhausting few months I’ve ever spent in college, and I was one of the few students who was lucky enough to not have to do a final year project, I’d have gone totally bananas if I had to add that to the list!
After just about surviving the semester, the assignments & group projects, many mental breakdowns and exams university was finally over. Desperately needing a break from the craziness that life brought over the previous few months myself and my parents set off for a holiday in the sun in Fuerteventura.
June 1st came around and it was time to officially go out into the real work and start my first ever full time job. Luckily enough having worked in the company since January 2016 it wasn’t a massive change for me, I just needed to get used to getting up at 7am daily.
June also saw the beginning of a friendship with a girl I could not imagine my life without. Having met on St. Patrick’s day at a friend of a friends party myself and Vanessa were both delighted to meet the “other girl in Mark snapchats”. Vanessa and I spent most of the summer drinking and dancing the nights away but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
August came around quickly and so did my college graduation, probably the biggest day of my life so far. I know I said it before but I genuinely never thought I’d graduate from where I did, studying what I did and have been so proud and happy about it!
September hit and I decided I needed to start saving my pennies for my impending trip to New York so the Saturday nights out came to a halt and the countdown to New York began. I also made a trip with mam across the Irish Sea to Cambridge to meet a cousin of mine I had never met, it was really great to be able to put a face to the name.
October saw me off to New York and do I even need to tell you how much I loved it? It was everything I hoped it would be and more, so far it’s definitely my favourite place I’ve traveled to. I’m already planning my next trip back!
2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for me. I graduated university, started my first permanent job, partied my way through the summer, made some new friends, and made my first ever trip across the Atlantic. Some highs and some lows but thankfully 2017 you brought more highlights than lowlights & I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store!
Visiting Santa in the Crescent Shopping Center was one of our many Christmas traditions so I thought I’d embarrass myself and my brother (sorry Conor) and share our Christmas pictures with Santa through the years.
1995 – My First Christmas
1996- Like Butter Wouldn’t Melt
1997- The Devil Year (I’ll explain later)
1998- Green Must Have Been In This Year
1999 – Aren’t We Sweet?
2000 – The Year of the Hideous Bob
2001 – The Year Mam Knitted Myself and Her Matching Jumpers…
2002 – The Year I Was Finally Allowed Grow Out The Hideous Bob
2003 – Clearly I Wanted To Dress Like Santa
2004 – The Year the Magic Ended
So back to 1997 being the devil year. If you haven’t already noticed Conor and I took pictures on the same side of Santa every year except 1997 hence why I call it the devil year. For my 18th birthday my mam made me a lovely “Your life in Pictures” book with a 2 page spread of these photos and 1997 ruined the flow of pictures (OCD much?).
In recent years we have been tempted to visit our old pal in the Crescent and recreate some of these pictures but I imagine we would get some strange looks from confused children.
As Christmas is looming I thought I’d do the generic Christmas tag most bloggers do around this time.
What’s your Favourite Christmas Movie?
It has to be either The Grinch or Elf.
Have you ever had a White Christmas?
Ireland doesn’t bring many white Christmases, we barely get snow but I do remember one Christmas when I was younger and we had quite a bit of snow, myself and my brother were building snowmen with my next door neighbours and as we went to collect snow for I went with one of the girls and started steeling the snow she collected cause I was too lazy to collect my own!
Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Usually we spend most of the day in my parents house, we’d call to visit my dad’s mam and his brother but most of the day is spent at home.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
There’s just too many to choose from, but I think it would have to be Fairy tale of New York -it’s a classic!
Do you open presents on Christmas Eve?
Nope we never open presents on Christmas Eve, I usually get a new pair of pyjamas on Christmas eve but that’s all that gets opened
What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
Christmas is slightly different for us in recent years as we’re “grown up” but I think my favourite tradition will always be going to my granny’s house after dinner and getting so see so much of my dad’s family in the one place.
Is your Christmas tree real of fake?
We always have a fake tree.
What’s your all time favourite Christmas food/sweet treat?
It has to be either my Granny’s stuffing or her Christmas Cake (which never actually makes it to Christmas Day in our house…)
Be honest: Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?
Now that I’m earning money and can actually afford to buy nice presents I definitely prefer giving!
What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
I’ve gotten so many great gifts over the years some of my favourites have been:
My dolls house (which I was super excited to get because it was the same as my friends one)
Fluffy (My soft teddy cat who came in his own cage, with loads of accessories, including a trophy cause clearly he was a winner, Fluffy is now almost 20 years old and definitely isn’t as Fluffy as he used to be!)
My Pink iPod Nano was definitely the top of my wishlist the year I got it but this little engraving my parents ever so kindly put on the back of it was not. I think everyone who knows me knows I can’t sign but it still doesn’t stop me! 😀
Where is your dream place to visit for the holidays?
The holidays for me are all about being at home with my family, having said that, I don’t think I’d refuse a trip to New York at Christmas 😉
What’s your most memorable holiday moment?
I don’t think I have any one particularly memorable moment that stands out to me. I have so many happy memories of Christmas Day in my Gandparents house surrounded by my aunts, uncles and cousins, so much laughter and so much good food. I get the warm fuzzy feelings even just thinking about it. I also loved when my Granddad on my mam’s side came to our house for St. Stephen’s Day dinner, it’s probably the tradition I miss most since he passed away.
What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I was in fifth class in school and one of the girls in my class told me, I went home and asked my mam who proceeded to lie to me about it until she eventually caved to tell me the girl in my class was right.
Do you make New Years resolutions?
I used to make the usual resolutions like: exercise more, eat healthier, etc. which would last all of about 2 weeks if I’m lucky. The last few years I’ve started setting myself goals, things I want to do or places I want to go to instead.
What makes the holiday special for you?
For me I just love spending time with my family, its the one time of year you know everyone makes the effort to visit everyone.