Derry woman, Fionnuala Crabtree, will be spending Christmas at home with her family said her decision to get a job teaching in Italy was influenced by her close friend, Lisa Orsi, who died tragically earlier this year.
Q - When and why did you leave Derry and how long has it been since you were home?
Fionnuala - I’m from Culmore in Derry. In 2010, I moved to England to study to become a teacher. In March I lost one of my great friends, Lisa Orsi. We often talked about our futures and we always shared the enthusiasm to see the world. So when the time came for me to find a job, I decided that I had to go out and see the world. In the summer I moved to Bergamo, a small town outside Milan, to work as a primary school teacher in the International School. Italy is a fantastic place and the way of life here is something I have embraced extremely well.
Q - What’s your favourite memory of Christmas in Derry?
Fionnuala - I have a few favourite memories of Christmas. One of my favourite memories leading up to Christmas was always going up the town to see the lights getting turned on by Santa in the Guildhall. I always loved that my daddy caught the sweets every year, however it was only about two years ago I found out that he used to keep the sweets in his pocket and pretend to jump up and catch them for me.
As I come from a house full of girls, we always had to get our hairs put in rollers for Christmas day, so I always remember sitting in front of the fire getting our hairs in perms. As if it wasn’t hard enough to sleep with excitement, those perm rollers definitely made it a lot harder.
As one of the youngest in the house we were allowed to go downstairs first. I used to think this allowed me a free choice of what was left from Santa and I used to take things from my sisters’ piles and take them for myself.
Q - How different is Christmas in Bergamo (Italy) to Christmas in Derry?
Fionnuala - In Bergamo they celebrate a lot leading up to Christmas. The children here receive gifts on the December 14 from Santa Lucia as well as gifts from Father Christmas and they receive gifts again on January 6. They do not have the traditional Christmas dinner that we associate with Christmas but have pasta and lasagne dishes and lots of cakes. The city of Bergamo is decorated so beautifully and every street is lit up.
Q - Who will be coming home with you? What are their names and ages and will it be the first time that some of them will have visited Derry?
Fionnuala - I will be travelling home to Ireland with a few other Irish teachers working in the International school, we have our own little community growing out here. I will be travelling home alone then to spend the time with my family and friends.
Q - What are you looking forward to the most when you come home?
Fionnuala - The thing I am looking forward to most when I come home is relaxing and enjoying some time off with great friends and family. I can’t wait to get one of my daddy’s famous homemade roasts and all the trimmings.
Q - How will you spend Christmas in Derry and how long will you be here for?
Fionnuala - I have two full weeks off to spend at home for Christmas and in this time I hope to spend it relaxing and catching up with my family and friends. On Christmas Day I plan to get up early to see what Santa leaves for me this year as I have been a good girl! Chocolate for breakfast is also a must.