Throughout the past month as Cameron, Ben, Joy, and I were approaching our first Christmas away from home, hardly a day went by that someone didn’t ask, “Is it very hard being so far from home for Christmas?” Truth be told, we’ve all had moments of homesickness, but it’s hard to be too terribly sad when the joy of Christmas is so evident in Clonard! From school carol services to band concerts; from a little Christmas party with our religious education students to a Christmas session with the Folk Group; from a delicious brunch and pulling Christmas crackers with friends from the parish to a lovely end-of-term luncheon with the staff of Scoil Mhuire, these past few weeks have been chock full of joyful moments that have made this Christmas as memorable and as truly happy as any. After exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree at the Teach, singing at five masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and saying farewell for now with one last group hug, we four Americans are off for two weeks of holidays. Ben and I are headed home to our families today, while Joy and Cameron will be holding down the fort and doing a bit of exploring around Ireland these next two weeks. We embark on these two weeks of rest with tremendous gratitude for all those who have made our first four months in Ireland so wonderful, and with great anticipation for all that God will bring into our lives throughout the coming year. Nollaig shona duit, and a happy and blessed new year to all!