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Christmas Connects

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I woke at 5am in the morning wondering and pondering on what the most important word to use this Christmas would be? The response I received from within myself was connect.

Connecting with Christmas has always been an important part of my life and that of my family and friends. From my earliest years the threads of connecting at Christmas involved preparation with pen and paper and the list, as

Cooking and baking: Ingredients for Christmas Pudding and Cake including Stout

Christmas Card List: Brian O’Higgins cards were the preferred choice, plus stamps for Ireland and abroad

Santa letters: which we children diligently wrote and posted to the North Pole

Grocery list: ordering the Turkey and Ham from the local Butcher

Christmas Decorations: taking the boxes down from the attic and buying the Tree.

Connecting with Christmas began in November and then steadily journeyed into December. Our lives were not interrupted with the advent of Christmas but it gave us an added purpose in life. The long dark evenings also afforded us the opportunity to make and do ; the rhythm of knitting needles accompanied the hum from the Radio while Din Joe took to the floor on Saturday nights. We children patiently stretched out our arms so Mammy could wind the hank of wool into a ball, for Mammy was ensuring we all would have a warm geansai to wear at Christmas. A notable event was Daddy’s visit to the attic to retrieve the decorations; a trap door in the ceiling on the landing was the attic entrance. The top step of the ladder meant that my father unlatched the bolt, pushed the hatch open, lit the Bicycle lamp and put it into the attic before swinging himself up and in. A feat we children watched with bated breath, while waiting patiently on the landing to be handed a box to carry downstairs. The Tree was purchased from the local grocer’s and carried home. The tree was placed in a bucket and surrounded with some clay, stones and even coal to keep it steady. The strings of coloured light bulbs had to be tested before being placed on the tree; this was a task where patience was called for as each light had to be tested to see if it was working. Many of our decorations were handmade from coloured crepe paper and hung from the ceiling with a balloon here or there for company. The assembling of the crib was the most reverent of tasks; each figure was unfurled from its newspaper cocoon where it had rested safely since the previous January. A space was reserved on the top of the china cabinet for the crib, for this was where the meaning of Christmas originated. The other important feature was the Christmas Candle, a long red sturdy pillar candle given by the local grocer as a thank you for your year round custom, was placed in the window to light the way of the traveller and to let them know they were welcome.

Christmas was and is an important way of connecting us with family, friends and neighbours, with our church and most importantly reconnecting by post with loved ones faraway. It is debateable whether life was more complicated then or now, however there is no denying that Covid-19 has and is making us more cautious in our celebrations for Christmas 2021.

Journeying this Christmas might not mean going to visit or knocking on a door, but we can still make meaningful connections. Connecting by Video with family and friends abroad is possible with modern technology. A simple phone call is also effective, hearing that familiar voice when your call is answered is like soothing balm for the mind and soul. The card being dropped through the letter box, then looking at the handwriting to try and guess the sender adds a certain magic to the Christmas proceedings. While out and about wearing masks shouldn’t hamper us from connecting with people by greeting them with the simple message Happy Christmas.

While social distancing we can stay connected by smiling more, greeting strangers and calling our family and friends just to tell them we love them. Let us continue to make every effort to stay connected throughout this season of Good Will.
Happy Christmas.

M.G.M. December 2021