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19th Dec 2019

The Exact Timeline Of Every Irish Family’s Christmas

Darragh Berry

It’s Christmasssssssssss.

Ate too much? Check. Got a shitload of presents? Check. Already told one of your siblings to go and feck themselves? Double check.

Sure it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few family tiffs.

You spend the whole of December looking forward to those few magical days around Christmas.

Although you think that you don’t know what’s in store, in your heart and soul, you know it’s going to go a little something like this…

23rd December

You’ll tip home and whether you’re getting a car, train, plane or bus, you’ll play ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ at least 27 times – Snapchat of said song playing is a must also.

All your presents are weighing you down. They’re not wrapped just yet but it’s sound because you’ll do that tonight on your quiet night in.

The auld pair will be absolutely delighted to see you. The fire is on and the decorations bring a tear to your eye.

You promise yourself that you’ll stay at home and have a nice catch up night in with the fam, but then you get the call.

We’re doing 12 pubs, it’s time to get the tinnies in.


You meet up with the home crew and it’s like ye never left the place. The drink is flowing and so is the craic.

The one you used to shift from school is in the crowd and you head over to wish them a happy Christmas but you don’t get too close for fear that it might happen again.

Sure, you couldn’t be dealing with that this time of year…

The local nightclub still has the same old faces with the same old stares but you don’t care because a vodka dash only costs you €4 here and they’re playing a Westlife megamix.

A very drunken version of ‘Fairytale of New York’ kicks off in the chipper and the place is as packed as Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.

You get home, raid the house for sweeties and then head to bed.

24th December

Dying. Absolutely dying.

Why did you go out, you fool.

You’re dragged out of bed because there’s visitors (you’d rather shift nettles than have to deal with an awkward, hungover conversation with your distant auntie) but the mother has the fry on though so it’s all good.

Dad calls you to the side, he’s going into town to get your mam’s present and he needs your help. You just want to be left alone in peace while you die in the bed but you’re not going to get your way today.

Town is wedged and everyone who has left their presents until the last minute are running here, there and everywhere looking for a quick treat.

You get home again. Great stuff, I’ll head back to bed for an hour or two. Then, you remember.

Those fecking presents.


A little bit of Sellotape here, here and here. This looks terrible. Ah, who cares it’ll be going in the fire anyway.

You’re told that “mass is at 9” and your hangover is getting worse as the day goes on. The Snapper is on the television and the whole fam sit down together for two hours and do their best Colm Meaney impressions, wha’.

Everyone is allowed open one present before mass and although you want to open the big fuck-off gift that’s sticking out at the front beside the tree with your name on it, your mother has other ideas.

“Open this instead,” she says and you know it’s something that she wants you to wear for mass.

You meet your best friend’s family on the way in to the church and it’s all very polite and civilised – the complete opposite to last night when you were flinging chips at each other.

Mass is so long so you have a scope around the place to see who’s wearing what and if they have changed much since last year. Is your one preggers?

You go into the local. your one is drinking water instead of her usual gin and tonic. Your mother and you give each other the nod, “pregnant”.

The thought of drinking again isn’t so bad now. Not like you had a choice anyways because the barman seen ye come in the door and already has the order on the way.

Now that is service.

The craic in the local is good but it’s nothing compared to your family’s own unique fun when ye come home.

Mam has the drinks out and someone mentions breaking out the pack of cards. The last time ye had a game, it ended in tears.

You’re all tempted to open the rest of the presents but the mother is in front of the tree like Packie Bonner. You shall not pass.

25th December

Sweets for breakfast? Yes please…


You’re itching to open the rest of your gifts but you have to wait until the rest of the family is up. Dad is still flat out from his cans of Guinness last night so you might be waiting a while.

You thank your parents for their gift even though you know for a fact that your father hasn’t a clue what was inside the wrapping paper, he just helped pay for it. He’ll still accept the thanks all the same though.

Where is mam? She’s in the kitchen already. This is where she shines.

You pop your head in the door and ask if she needs help. You hope that she’ll say no but before you even finish the question, she has already handed you four different utensils.

Around now is when the first of many fights begin for the day. “That’s not how you do that”, “are you actually for real?” and “NO, NO, NO” are phrases that will be thrown around at least three times each in the kitchen.

You have to be rolled out of the kitchen after dinner. You discuss different ways to use up the remainder of the turkey. Turkey curry, turkey sandwiches, turkey breakfast.

The next two to three hours is just a complete zone out. You’re looking at the classic Christmas movies that are (always) on the television on the 25th while also flicking through social media to see if your friends got better presents than you did.

Patience begins to wear thin, however, and soon you start arguing with your family about everything. What to watch on TV, what you’re going to do for the night, who’s turn it is to make the tea, who got the really shite present.

It’s gotten to the point where even looking at your sibling in the wrong way begins to piss them off. You need to chill out so you head to your bedroom for an hour to have a lie down.

A bit of sleep does you the world of good and by the time you wake up, it’s happy families again. The fire is blazing and you’re all sitting in the sitting room drinking and reminiscing about memories and the stupid fight ye had at 5:30pm.

The night can go one of two ways. You stay put and wait for people to visit you or you hit the road and do a few calls to round up the night. (You pick option B because nobody ever comes to visit you).


Sniff, sniff.

26th December

This is like a mini Christmas Day. You still have the excitement of the dinner but it’s a lot more chilled back. You have to clean up the mess that you made the previous day and you find it hard to believe that there are that many dirty dishes after just one day.

You think that you are argument free today but you’re wrong. There’s footy on the TV and your brother wants to watch Man United play some ‘Boxing Day’ football. However, majority rules and instead Titanic is put on the box. A shouting match ensues.

You tell your mother that you’re heading out again tonight and she just gives the look.

It’s a kind of “I’m disappointed/I’m not shocked/are you for serious” type of look that goes a little something like this…


It’s rocky for the next while but you help out with the spuds again and it’s all good. The minute the dinner is over, there’s no time for hanging around. It’s straight in the shower and out the door ASAP.

There’s a mad buzz about St. Stephen’s Night. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone has spent too much time with their fam and they just can’t wait to get out of their sight. Or, it could be the fact that no pubs are open the day before and everyone has the itch to go for one.

It’s a repeat of the 23rd but you know that the hangover is going to be ten times worse because there’s nothing special about the 27th and it’s going to be back to reality soon.

So, you use that as an excuse to get even more drink inside you, “sure, as well to go out with a bang.”

Everyone is out tonight. You haven’t seen most of them since this exact day this time last year. They’re all flaunting their new clothes that they got from Santa.

You come home and absolutely devour the rest of the turkey. There’s no need to worry about leftovers now, there isn’t a pick left for anyone.

27th December

Back to reality, sadly. At least Christmas Eve was fun because it was a Christmas hangover but this, this one hurts.

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