I never felt so Festive as in the Arrivals lounge of Dublin Airport early in the morning.
A few years ago we had the wife’s parents over to stay for Christmas. And I volunteered to pick them up from the airport. I’m a morning person, see, and getting up before the fabled lark to meet them presented few difficulties for them. Or fewer difficulties.
What I wasn’t expecting was the atmosphere around the Arrivals Lounge itself. Having arrived too early, I found that I was leaning against the barrier in the company of people who were awaiting the arrival of an earlier flight from Abu Dhabi. And this coincidence proved quite delightful. Because the flight from Abu Dhabi was effectively the flight that brought loved ones home from Australia.
Overwhelmingly these were young adult loved ones. People who had gone out for a year to try their southern hemispheric luck and were now back, for Christmas at least. As a consequence large extended families were spread all over the arrivals lounge. Some of them had banners. All of them had songs.
Now I was has happy to see my mother in law and father in law as you like. But I also enjoyed sort of leeching off the collective merriment of people who hadn’t seen their children in a year. And when the children actually appeared. Gawky, sleep-deprived, grinning, tanned, wearing clothes more suitable for an Australian summer than an Irish winter, it was watching the best bit of a soppy movie play over and over and over again. Only with better, more unpredictable scripts.
There’s something uncanny about watching very private familial huggings made public. Yet these family huggings in public were in turn legitimated by the season. All such displays of emotion seem appropriate under the tinsel. Any other time of year, I think people would have tried to look away a bit – but because there were so many people there for essentially the same reason and because everybody was singing Christmas carols while waiting – the sense of communal festivity was hard to beat.
I think that time waiting for a trans-atlantic flight in the company of people awaiting their Australians was the merriest I got all last year. It was second hand merriment – parasitic jollification. But I took it. And I’d take it again.
A few years ago. I’m assuming that it’s also this year and every year.