It’s week 91, we’re on the countdown to Christmas and I’m torn between traditional or over-the-top, that’s if it’s not all cancelled
• THIS time last year we were still more or less on track for a standard pandemic Christmas, weren’t we? From what I can remember I think we were all oblivious to the s*** show that was hurtling down the tracks, otherwise known as the Alpha variant. Fast forward 12 months, and we’re at that crossroads once again, where things could go either way, mainly thanks to Omicron (a letter of the Greek alphabet and pronounced aa-muh-kraan, and not a character from Lord of the Rings). In my naivety I really thought we had gone way past that crossroads, turned several corners, even built a little road block, never to return, but there you go. Never a dull moment where Covid’s concerned. So if you feel like losing your mind trying to untangle the Christmas tree lights, work out whose turn it is to host dinner this year, or deal any of the other general madness that comes with December, just count yourself lucky nobody is looking to you for the country’s next move in this unholy mess.
• Having said that there still seems to be a good deal of confidence in the air. I’m basing that entirely on the fact that there’s not a hairdresser or beautician’s appointment to be had in West Cork between now and the 25th. You’d have to admire people’s optimism (and organisational skills) all the same. I suppose if things are going to get ugly, you might as well be in full glam mode.
• Personally I’m more about my MacGyver mode these days, more out of necessity than anything else. Typically, only a few days into the whole WFH lark again and my internet connection packed in. My first reaction was to ring my husband to see if he could come home to fix it, as otherwise, simply put, I would die. When that wasn’t an option (he had a meeting), I rang my service provider, and said pretty much the same thing. The girl at the end of the line, Rebecca, was a trooper. She talked me off the edge and into the attic where for some reason known to someone (not me), the router is located. She coaxed me up the stairs, virtually held my hand as I located the light in a dark corner and talked me through the various buttons until bingo, we were back in action baby! She didn’t stay on the line long enough to make sure I made it back down safely, but I won’t hold that against her. Anyway at that stage I felt so invincible I had broken into Helen Reddy’s hit ‘I Am Woman, hear me roar… if I have to, I can do anything!’ Although I feel if my husband really loved me he’d have left the meeting. Just saying.
• While I was up there I should have brought down the decorations and been done with it. My mind always goes into overdrive at this time of year and I swing from wanting a perfectly pleasant, regular Christmas to something completely over-the-top. Think fake snow machines, the Coca Cola lorry parked in the driveway, beside a Budweiser Clydesdale and personalised Christmas cards like the Kardashians, where we’re all dressed in white, and with bare feet (after the fake tan and pedicure appointments). I’m not sure if it’s the ads or the music or what but all my buttons get pushed all at once and I’m an emotional mess.
• Right now I’m thinking traditional, and I want to revisit all the festive traditions I loved growing up. There was the lighting of the Christmas candle on Christmas Eve by the youngest member of the family, and afterwards going to our grandparents who lived at the end of our garden (well strictly speaking they were there first, so we were at the top of theirs I suppose) for turkey sandwiches; some people would go to midnight mass, the younger ones would get to bed. We’d always stay home the next day, but visitors were welcome. There was always a single bottle of Blue Nun on the table that never got opened (possibly the same one every year), huge spreads of mini everything – quiche, vol au vents, eclairs (mini was really big in the 80s) and the bumper edition of RTÉ guide to hand even if the only thing on was either Back to the Future or The Sound of Music.
• As for decorations, those were the days when tinsel wasn’t regarded as offensive; besides, lametta was an option if you were a bit posh. There was never a theme, and you could spray fake snow on just about everything with wild abandon and not worry about greenhouse gases or how you were going to get it off in January.
• And then there were the new Christmas coats everyone got decked out in. I’ve two older sisters and one year we all got new pink coats. To be honest I wasn’t that keen on them, which was a bit of a draw back as hand-me-downs meant I was wearing one in every Santa picture for my entire childhood. Nobody went to Lapland, you went to Wilton to see the man himself, or if you were feeling very adventurous, all the way into Patrick Street (you didn’t have to book two months in advance either) and you’d always tune in to hear Alf McCarthy have a quick chat with Santa on the radio before he headed off on his travels.
• I think what set me off on this trip down memory lane was seeing that adorable Kellogs cornflakes ad for the first time this season. The one with that super cute little blonde girl (for anyone interested there were actually two twin girls who took on the role). It would melt a heart of stone and I don’t even eat cereal. Controversial I know, while I do very much enjoy a cup of Barry’s Tea, I can’t stand their ‘Santa can bring them what they want….’ ad. And who remembers the ESB ‘Going Home’ one (with a young Alan Hughes from Virgin Media)? I’ve just set myself off again. ‘Tis the season.