On the way to the Clongriffin community center the other night, Ashlyn kept yelling out, "Partayyy!!! We're going to the partayyy!!!" I'll confess, I taught her that. Hopefully she'll learn to pronounce it properly someday. We were in fact on our way to our Failte Isteach Christmas party. Failte Isteach is Gaelic for "welcome in" and is actually an ESL (English as a Second Language) class that our Christian community helps run for mostly Polish students here in Dublin.
Tuesday evening's party was my first of many festive celebrations to come. This afternoon, after I finish teaching another English class at Dublin Central Mission, we'll have a Christmas party. Tonight the basketball team I play on is having a Christmas gathering. On Friday evening I'll be at the Karnes house for another Christmas party (with some of our friends and neighbors). Juli can't make that party because she'll be at another one for the playgroup she helps run. On Sunday we'll join Ranelagh Christian Church for worship, and then, you guessed it, a Christmas party. Juli came up with an amazing idea for early January. "Why don't we have an after-Christmas party!" So a few days after the New Year some of our other friends and neighbors will join us to celebrate the party season's conclusion (complete with a re-gifting game).
Where the United States has turned Christmas into an end of the year economic booster, Ireland has used this season as an excuse to partayyy! Some of the parties are more pagan than Christian, to be sure, but it does give us an excuse to get to know our friends and neighbors a bit better and to share with them our conviction that Christmas, and especially Easter can and should be celebrated everyday of our lives. - Shay