Bah Humbug and some more mince pies and a wonderful Nollaig na mBan



and for the last 16 years never Christmas day.

This blogger and  nearly everyone she knows has succumbed to the flu or a flu like virus that’s not the real thing.  It’s just a wannabe flu virus causing sore throats, ear infections and a dry cough, that makes up for its’ lack of abject virulence by its’ tenacity to linger around in the body for weeks. So the festive season now seems like nearly a month ago. It has come and gone and yet another night of very poor sleep was endured waiting for the big man in red to make his special delivery. This year it was the turn of Number 3 son and Small to awake at approximately 1.30am, to find that for once Santa had not fallen into a vat of iced baileys and had indeed made good time as their stockings were full and awaiting them on the stairs. The sitting room downstairs was locked as it has been since the year that No 1 son nearly drove Santa insane. There are only so many flyovers that Santa can make and that year No 1 son refused all notions of sleep. He was up and down the stairs with such alacrity & frequency that poor Santa  nearly choked on his mince pie as he tried to scramble back up the chimney. Santa  indeed suggested( actually insisted) that from that year on, the front room where the fireplace resides be locked by us parents and remain locked until we could no longer resist the calls to get up on Christmas morning.

This year we settled on 7.30am being an acceptable time and at 7.31am we were duly awoken by all five children hurtling through our bedroom door singing some form of Christmas tune. You may be thinking that’s very civilised but Small and No 3 son did not manage to go back to sleep from 1.30am until then and passed the night as quietly as as herd of elephants playing a highly competitive and closely contested game of beer pong with a neighbouring herd of buffalo.

Each year, I think I have this Christmas lark down to a tee. I’ve had years of practice at this stage and each year I make the same rookie mistakes. Each year I think I can do prudent purchasing of gifts. Ha! If I shop too early I forget what has been bought and end up doubling up on pressies. If I leave it too late I panic buy. End result, either way the credit card is on fire. Likewise with the letters to Santa, written too early and there is a real danger of change of mind slips, written too late and those  pesky elves invoke union rules on production quantities.

Each year I forget whose turn it is put up the tree top ornament. I say ornament as each year I forget whether it’s the star or angel’s turn to be top dawg so this debate happens in tandem.  Each year our tree looks like, as my husband elegantly describes; “as if a flock of magpies have dropped their shit on it on their way home after a drunken night out “. This year I was rather zen like and didn’t feel the need to rearrange our rather diverse and eclectic tree ornaments, I even added tinsel.

Each year, I forget that there is something about Christmas that makes me feel compelled to clean the house, to an entirely unrealistic high standard.  However, as I passed yet another one of the pre Christmas mince pies to some child or other and saw the resulting flaky mess, I lay down and knew that this cleaning compulsion would pass too.

Each year I forget to save the equivalent of a small mortgage as it wouldn’t be Christmas in our household if there wasn’t some car trouble. You know the way for some people Christmas doesn’t start until the tree is up, or loved ones return home from far flung places like Tubbercurry or Bandon. Well for us, it  doesn’t officially start until car trouble descends. This year it was the last day of school when my car decided it was actually a diesel car and would no longer tolerate the indignity of being made to run on the sixty four euro & fifty cents worth of unleaded petrol I had filled her up with the previous week. Ouch and bearing in mind my unchosen and unfollowed  career in politics, I have no memory of going anywhere near a green nozzle.

Each year, I forget that offering any kind of choice on the menu for Christmas day will just lead to all out family war. By the years end, my ability to diffuse war scenarios like a UN peacekeeper is flagging somewhat. Somebody’s goose was in danger of being stuffed.

This year, I was very grateful to get through the three main days of the festive season without any dreadful winter lurgies. They waited until the dying days of 2017 to pay us a visit and as I write have well overstayed their welcome into the first weeks of 2018. It was really only myself that succumbed, to an ear infection that made me nostalgic for my childhood and some variant of an flu like illness that gave me aches and pains and left me feeling like a car with the wrong bloody fuel in its tank. Hubby  & offspring stayed well but his car not be outdone by mine gave up the ghost on New Years Eve and kept my car company on the driveway. This year that is where I valiantly tried parking my various anxieties over mechanic’s bills, food choices, family squabbles and too little sleep.

For the most part I succeeded, aided and abetted by my inherent love for Christmas in spite of how it stresses me.   There were the catch ups at my kitchen table, cocktails at lunch time on Christmas day and an impromptu family gathering on St. Stephen’s day with my Mam , sisters and niece, that was just special. Meet ups with good friends over early evening drinks in our local. Loads of great books as Christmas presents and  more presents, including one of my favourites, the most sophisticated scarf and glove set I have ever owned..think Audrey Hepburn..think pure class. I swear I find it hard to curse when I am donning them. Getting a bear hug from my big brother and the first hand run down on the lives of the other niece and nephews from my lovely sister in law. More tea brewed in my new tea pot. Table tennis on the kitchen table and roping children into playing board games. The joy of not getting dressed and eating leftovers.  Our Christmas tree which just looked lovelier with each passing day as it twinkled into its’ place in our lives, even without decoration it was beautiful tree. It still is, stripped as it is but still  in situ in the sitting room emitting promises of next Christmas through its’  piney scent and still green leaves. Christmas cards received but none sent due to a misplaced address book but New Year Cards will be sent instead. Expect them around Easter.

So out with the old new year with a 17th birthday celebration. Borrowed cars got us to an early 90th birthday celebration for my Mam, on the first day of 2018, missing a few key players in her life story but a happy occasion nonetheless. The days all drifting into one.

The wise men who we neglected to put away last year, as one had lost his head(we think he snuck off to the 12 pubs) were searching for a crib that never even got put up this year, but they did get repaired. The epiphany, the last day of the Christmas festivities, Nollaig na mBan, or Little Christmas saw me attend a badminton coaching course which was great and not just because it got me out of the house. Followed by a quick turn around, a bit of makeup and an early bird  meal with three mothers who I’ve known since No 1 son was a baby. We caught up on the exploits of our children, we caught up on the state of our physical  bodies and we caught up on how we were each doing. We compared notes, shared our hopes and enjoyed that ease of being….just being. We counted our blessings …and I for one decided that it’s time to give the two fingered salute to hormones or at the very least put milk thistle and flaxseed on the shopping list. Here’s to living each day of 2018.


Stepping it out for Nollaig na mBan


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