‘What about Christmas?’ was what my mother asked not long after returning from my summer stint in Ireland. Christmas holidays always present me with two conundrums; how long do I stay, and do I stay for my birthday in January? We had uneasiness in asking friends to mind Aneira over a holiday period to allow us to both go home at the same time. This time I decided to stay for Christmas week, and head back to Spain before New Year.
With each trip home since leaving, I have found myself staying for less and less time. Perhaps it’s a longing to return to your familiar routine, perhaps it’s the fact your once family home now feels more your parent’s home. As a millennial emigrant in the digital age, you can’t escape stories of your peers and their trips home. The surprise visits, messages from loved ones of wanting anything beforehand: tea, Superquinn Sausages, and Tayto or King.
While a fond novelty at first, I’ll admit that it started to wear off around my second year. Now accustomed to a new way of life and adapted to my adopted country’s own home comforts, I began to miss less and less of the aforementioned. Being a tea without milk drinker certainly helped.
While home, I never felt too far away from Aneira. Videos, photos, updates in general. You may find it a little strange, but we kept it to ourselves, and away from social media, a place all too easy to plaster every step of your life nowadays. It was Christmas Eve when it began, and honestly it caught Siobhan back home by surprise. Bang, boom, POM – the sound of fireworks in the streets nearby.
Suddenly, cheerier videos were replaced with ones of concern and fear. Siobhan had a shadow wherever she went. If they were like this on Christmas Eve, what on earth would they be like for New Year’s?
I returned the day beforehand to the news that the bangs at night weren’t holding up in recent days, and was warned to be prepared, and to be ready to stay inside on the 31st. This wasn’t a problem, as I have grown more and more out of love with the idea of gathering for New Year in recent years.
For those reading who are considering a dog, take a look at your social life, and see beforehand if you can compromise nights out that involve fireworks for something else during the year. If you are comfortable with hosting, consider having your friends over for Halloween, or hosting your own New Year’s Party loud enough to drown out bangs outside.
Aneira has become used to the sights and sounds outside our building, despite still having issues with some neighbours passing by our door despite her being 10 metres away in the living room. But as a dog owner, I have never felt more helpless when a sudden bang is heard from the street. All you can do is act as if nothing is bothering you; negative energy passes from being to animal.
Keeping the blinds down, and the volume up, we were forced to endure a fireworks show which ran from around 8pm until 3am. All the while you wondered when they would die down to allow you to take her out before bed. Having started watching the Harry Potter series which was on Irish television throughout Christmas week, I decided to finish where I left off that evening to pass the time, making sure the volume was sufficiently loud during its action scenes. Aneira meanwhile kept moving between the floor and the armchair. You could see she was still unsure, still afraid, and at times shaking. Heart breaking as it was, all you could do was ignore and give the impression it was just any ordinary night.
Perhaps she will get better in time. Perhaps it will stay with her until her hearing begins to fail. Every year we are reminded of keeping pets indoors when fireworks are planned. Now, I can truly understand why.