Thank you for your emails and comments about the blog.
Well we are nearly there, there was a mad dash to the supermarket today to pick up the fresh turkeys. Christmas would not be Christmas without that incredibly delicious bird sitting there, centre table, bronzed to death. I mean we love this bird so much we only eat it once a year. The shelves of the supermarkets around the country are, today, bulging with Turkeys of all shapes and sizes, organic, free range, happy birds, all oven ready, more or less. That was not always the case. In the not so distant past we collected our birds from the various small suppliers , who had started the frenzy of wringing necks and plucking in yards all around the locality in the week running up to christmas and it hung somewhere cool in the house. I was reminded of this by ‘the brother’ who recalls one hanging somewhere near the top of the stairs that being a very, very cool spot in the houses back then without central heating. This tradition nowadays can be seen away from the sanatised supermarkets, in the artisan butchers and specialty markets, like Cork’s English Market. So we discovered on our walkabout in the last few days. Much to Jessica’s, ahem, bemusement.
It was also pointed out to me how the hanging puddings became the new ‘punchbag’ for us budding Muhammed Ali’s and were capable of taking the occasional haymaker, if our small hands were capable atall of doing any permanent damage to the magnificent Plump Puddings.
Other treats at Christmas remain engrained in the vaults of the mind was the appearance of our Nan’s bottle of Bols Advocaat which if I’m not mistaken was occasionally sampled by someone other than Nana. It did get put away safely for a lot of the time however.
There was also the delivery on Christmas week of two crates of minerals from Shannon Minerals, one of orange and one of white lemonade. The weekly budget of most families in the 1960/1970’s would not stretch to buying such indulgences and therefore Supermarkets had not yet installed the now familiar gargantuan isle of Coke, 7Up, Sprite, Fanta, etc. Suffice to say two things here. 1. Our Glass Bottles of Shannon Minerals barely made it to New Years eve and 2, We were never in danger of developing a diabetic disorder in getting a sudden dose of minerals at Christmas. Unfortunately our improving standard of living over the years has made the picture below an essential feature for every supermarket and a few gallons of the inappropriately named ‘Soft Drinks’, a must on the weekly shopping list.
Finally, for this post, wherever you are may you have a peaceful and content Christmas. Given the chance, try to smile and greet all those around you and if you have someone to share this holiday with then have a loving and sharing Christmas. I want to wish a safe journey to all of you who will be making the long trek home via the roads, rail, airports and high seas as you make the journey home. Of course we all know it is a fantastic time for the family and getting home is such a huge part of Christmas. It is very special to return to your family and celebrate this holiday together, to get back to the towns and villages which hold great memories, friends and places that have huge significance and special meaning in your hearts and minds. Safe travelling.
Many thousands of families won’t be able to do this due to the vast distances that now divide our families. We can take to technology to bridge that gap with Skype and a plethora of Apps that allow us see and speak over the internet. Not the same I know and tinged with a little homesickness but this too will fade.
And definitely the final word. In our eagerness to know what would be under the tree for us at Christmas, me and the brothers, undertook feats of superhuman sleuthing that on occasion included screwdrivers to remove locks, doors and anything that got in the way of inquisitive minds. The ‘Timex’ watch being pointed to below was found in a locked wardrobe in Nana’s bedroom. We got the lock off but never succeeded in refitting once we sneaked a glimpsed of the treasures inside. I wonder if Mam noticed. What do you reckon.