Sunday, 18 December 2011

LIFE OVERSEAS: Magic of an Xmas fair

SPREAD the love this Christmas. It is that time of the year again. That annual season full of cheer, happiness, giving and hopefully, snow (although impossible in Malaysia).
In Ireland, Christmas holds much importance and I look forward to the Christmas Fairs.
My family and I went to Galway which is famous for its Annual Continental Christmas Fair.
What is unique about the fair is that it has more than just the regular stalls.
People from across Europe sell all kinds of surprises.
This year, there is an assortment of French pastries, freshly brewed Italian coffee, Dutch baked pretzels and waffles, and even piping hot German sausages on the grill.
Then, I came across this bizarre sign stating Exotic Meats, with a price list below it.
It was a burger stall and, of course, I smelled the sizzling patties on the grill. But what made it “oh-so special“ was the main ingredient in those patties.
Kangaroo, venison, springbok and even bison burgers were available!
I took a chance on a bison burger and, boy, was it flavoursome. Topped with grilled onions, it was tender, juicy and each bite took you on a whole new adventure.
Aside from the fascination of food, there was a magical place that each child dreamed of — Santa‘s Grotto.
The grotto took the form of a quaint little cabin decorated in red and white in the middle of Eyre Square, Galway. Even giant candies were used as ornaments.
Children of all ages waited eagerly in line for their turn to have a one-on-one time with Santa — sit on his lap and tell him their ultimate Christmas present.
What startled me is these children truly believe in Santa until the age of about 11 — when their parents, a friend or a sibling burst their magic bubble.
I do not remember, as a child, believing in this burly man, who extraordinarily squeezes down that tiny, narrow chimney and drinks your milk and eats your cookies.
Do not even get me started on his flying reindeer and elves.
I was told the significance of Xmas and I knew my parents gave me presents which made more sense than a make-believe Santa.
As a child of nine, I wanted a manicure set with the works. As the years went by, the list included electronic items — a mobile phone or a laptop.
At the fair was an enchanting experience that everyone, who is a child at heart, would love — a ride on one of the horses or carriages in the grandly lit, merry-go-round.
My eyes lingered on it as if there was a magnetic pull to the revolving words in glittery gold at the top stating: “For your pleasure, to both young and old.“
But sadly, due to lack of companions who were feeling the same urge, I failed to satisfy my longing.
There were many visitors to the continental fair, despite the freezing cold weather with its unexpected showers of rain.
The crowd consisted mainly of families — father and mother with their little bundles of joy, buzzing around, completely captivated by the fair.
The stereotypical celebration of Christmas is shopping and more shopping. It is a feast consisting of the compulsory enormous roast turkey, Christmas pudding and minced pies.
What most people take for granted on Christmas Day is the importance of the family.
Sadly, being abroad makes it physically impossible for me to spend time with my siblings and this is when I realised my Xmas wish for the year — appreciate the loved ones around you by spending quality time together and let them know how precious they are to you.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart.

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