Christmas Eve for me always involves a trip down memory lane, it isn’t like my regular travels, but it is one I take with fondness and a little sadness. It is a time to recall all those past Christmases spent in the bosom of my family and remember the special times we shared.
Christmas was a magical time in our house. As children we would get up as early as was allowable on Christmas morning (sometimes earlier) and throw ourselves with gusto, into unwrapping gifts and all my mum and dad would say was “Well isn’t Santa a great man” (I am reminded of them every time I hear the Barry’s Tea advert on the radio) On our way out to mass on Christmas morning, there was the inevitable debate as to which direction Santa arrive from and departed to, what time he had visited, someone always seemed to have heard the sleigh bells at some point and we would try to interpret the evidence: sleigh marks in the gravel path in front of the house, chewed carrots and spilled water on the doorstep, empty milk glass and cookie crumbs and sometimes a note! After church we would join our cousins at their house and eagerly show off our new toys. We would play and eat, until we fell into a turkey and chocolate coma and go to bed dreaming of Santa, reindeers and elves and the long stretch of school holidays before us when we could master the new bike or game we had received.
My adult memories of Christmas revolve more around Christmas eve. Many years I would have worked on the 24th and made my way home in the afternoon, listening to Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” on the radio. I remember arriving home many a Christmas eve, to find my mother with half of the garden shrubbery on the kitchen table, as she made centrepieces and wreaths for family and friends or wrapping the last of the gifts with the smell of fresh baking wafting in the air and the joy my safe arrival would bring to her face. My dad would be busy up in the farmyard trying to get as much of the farm work done, so he would only have the minimum to do on Christmas Day. We would each roll up our sleeves, turn on Christmas music on the radio and tend to our traditional roles, it was my job to make the stuffing and the socks for the turkey, don’t ask! A candle was always placed in the window on Christmas eve to show the holy family that there was a place for them in our home as was the tradition in homes throughout the land. It was truly a magical time.
These are memories I treasure and ‘ponder in my heart’ I give thanks for them and for the new traditions I now celebrate with my German family.