I grew up listening to lots of radio. Radio 1 was the soundtrack of my childhood. This time of year, there would be plays, letters and essays read out about an author’s Christmas from a previous year. A common feature, especially if the author was from the west of Ireland, was the arrival, to great fanfare, of a box of gifts from relatives in the United States of America. I remember talk of parcels of clothes which would be worn to Church for Midnight Mass. There was a touch of the exotic about these gifts. The clothes would be new and unusual, not the staple fare of a drapery in a small country town.
With my mother’s family living in Australia, we would receive calendars with photos of landmarks there. At least once, a box with clothes arrived. My Aunty Fran sent her daughter Judith’s beautiful white dress which I wore for my Confirmation ceremony.
My mother’s Christmas present one year was to call her mother and sister in Brisbane for 45 precious minutes. The price of that call was £45. This must have been in the early 1980’s.
We just got off the phone with my eldest, Darragh, who lives in Maui, Hawaii. Last week we spoke to him for almost 4 hours, at a cost of the princely sum of €5.
But this evening, joy of joys, the box of gifts he put together for us arrived.
Such excitement! Such joy!
Among the thoughtful and carefully chosen presents, was a box of 12 packs of BRAND NEW PLAYING CARDS!!! A gentle comment on how often we have been about to play a game of cards, only to discover that the Queen of Hearts and Knave of Spades have gone gallivanting somewhere, only to be discovered shivering disconsolately, down the side of a chair or under the couch, or cunningly, masquerading as a bookmark in some tome on the shelf.
Eamonn sorting a new pack of cards
Sometimes happiness really is in the SMALL things.
Darragh won’t be at our table this Christmas time to share dinner and woeful jokes from crackers. But it feels as though we are very close, just the same.