Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I’m not in the mood for Christmas this year. It just seems like an awful lot of fuss and work to go through again. A big Christmas holiday every other year seems like a more reasonable option to me. I usually love Christmas; the lights, the presents, Santa, the way it turns Quality Street in a legitimate household food-item. It’s just that this year it just feels like an awful lot of work for what is essentially, one day bookmarked by consumer excess and a roast dinner. O.M.G! Did I really just say that? Have I really turned into Bah Humbug Christmas killjoy? This holiday exhaustion is down to the fact that I have been working really, really hard since September. I was hoping nay expecting to get the edits done on my new book, The Dress, before the holidays, but now it looks like it is going to drag on into the New Year. This means that I don’t have that wonderful sense of completion I usually enjoy at the years end and it is making me really grumpy.  As the lights have gone up in Killala and reminders to order my Christmas Turkey from Noelly the butcher come through on Facebook, I am watching my book deadline move further away. I want to lock myself in my shed and get this book to bed, but instead I have to organize buying gifts and worry about how to cook my brussel-sprouts.  Christmas, frankly, is getting in the way of my life. I was not able to get parking in Ballina this week and there was a queue at the Bank link a mile long. In my stressed state I have decided to half-do the whole thing. Usually I turn my home into a veritable forest grotto. This year I have stuck some fairy lights on the banisters. I told my husband to grab the first four bags from the top of the attic stairs (the attic is filled to bursting with festive decorations) and I would pot luck whatever was in them around the house provided it didn’t take more than an hour.  Other time and energy saving measures include sending no cards, (not even e-mail ones), joint mother/mother-in-law gifts and, most shockingly, ready made desserts from Lidl. Christmas is far from cancelled, we still have a tree and Santa will be coming but Mummy is not driving the whole business as full-throttle as she usually does. Mummy is too busy working.
Christmas has been hanging over me like the Sword old Damocles since early November and this week it slammed down on my head when searching online for a pair of Stompeez (branded, expensive, slippers that are this years Xmas ‘it’ thing for the under tens) and discovered, to our horror that its too late to order online.
Most definitely not on my list of ‘things-to-do’ is attend ‘events’. However my favorite young woman, Caoimhe Reilly was doing a solo at the Gortnor Abbey Carol Concert in Crossmolina. It being her leaving cert year and with her not being my actual daughter (sadly – a mere family friend/stunt-daughter who comes on loan courtesy of her real mother, Fiona), I decided it might be the last time I’d get to see her over the holidays. So, I braved it. 
Infuriatingly, I arrived almost an hour early, so found myself sitting in the car fidgeting restlessly listening to Newstalk when I could have been in my den moving words around a page.
Eventually, I followed the crowd in and got a good seat, near the front. The convent chapel was glittering with fairy lights and candles, with a silhouette scene of the three wise men projected behind the altar. 
As the students started to sing, I could feel myself gradually let go and get into the spirit of the music. Oh Come All Ye Faithful etc. It’s Christmas. Get over it.
Then my young friend got up on the altar to sing Oh Holy Night. It’s a tough one at the best of times and her mum had told me she’d had a sore throat all week.  Suddenly, I felt nervous for her. Lovely, tall, pretty Caoimhe, her huge eyes pleading up to the choir balcony behind me watching for her cues.  She seemed so vulnerable in that moment to me, to so personify the beauty and spirit and hope of Christ’s both that I closed my eyes and listened to every note, willing her to make them. She hit each one and then, at the very end went for the achingly high slammer and nailed it. I let out a sob and only then realized that I had been crying since she started singing.
With my heart open, I finally allowed Christmas to make its entrance.