So the New Year is upon us. It came in with a whimper for us, as we were hunkered down, with the hatches battened, the stove roaring, our feet up, and a bottle of wine open. The weather outside was frigid, as it’s been for the past several days. 

We had a very pleasant Christmas. The kids rushed off to bed on Christmas Eve, fearful that Santa would be on our doorstep – or roof – before they were firmly asleep. In fact, they had spent a good part of the day tracking his progress on NoradSanta.Com. They were particularly interested to see when he was in China, knowing that he would be stopping off with Aisling and Siobhan (fresh from their trip to the Queensland swimming chanpionships where they landed another haul of medals !)

The kids left cookies and milk for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer, which the kids were thrilled to see on Christmas morning had been devoured. Fortunately enough, Santa decided the kids had been good during the year, so he left them a decent haul of presents. Eoghan got some robot toys, Orla an American Girl doll with various accoutrements, and Conall some train equipment, and an electronic cat which he would not put down. He spent the day wandering around with it, going “Miaou” all day long. Grandma and Beth came over to see the distribution of presents, and when the noise got too much I retreated to some peace and quiet.

Lunchtime saw the arrival of our cousin Dominique and her friend Catherine, who have been traveling the world for the past six months. They had been working in Australia, vacationing in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and arrived in New York a week before Christmas. They joined us for dinner and were a huge hit with the kids, who loved playing with them.

Dinner was great, even if it was at GrandMa’s, who’s not the best cook in the world. We learnt our lesson in the past, having eaten with her and – even worse – with the polish in-laws who produce questionable fare at such as kielbasa and pierogi at various holiday get-togethers. Ugh. So now we cook our own turkeys and ham, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts, and bring them along with us ! (The AGA does a phenomenal job of cooking turkey, usually doing two of them – a slow cooked one and a fast cooked one. They’re usually incredible, succulent and tasty and not at all dried out. Although Kevin claims that his deep-fried turkey is awesome too. We’ll have to do a cook-off next go around !)

After dinner and more presents at Grandma’s, where we were amused to see Conall roaring and laughing as he played with launching a small air-powered rocket, we adjourned back to out house where we watched a couple of movies on the big screen with the girls before all collapsing into bed.

St. Stephen’s Day saw the departure of Dominique and Catherine after all too short a visit. We managed to fit in a stroll with the kids at Mills Mansion before dropping them off to the train. We weren’t abandoned too long, however – the next day saw a visit from Seamus and Ivana, Colette from Australia (a recurring theme this Christmas) and Barbara. We were joined by Kevin and Lisa and their kids, too, so the house was bedlam for most of the day !

We had snow on several days, and the kids enjoyed our annual snow mazes in the garden, and making snow forts. Conall in particular was thrilled to ride in a sled with Eoghan; he’s pretty fearless. He’s very quick on the uptake, too : he keeps grabbing me by the hand to sit down and play with him. On one occasion when I was busy I teasingly said to Orla “Orla, I’ll give you $2 to play with Conall“. When he heard that, he immediately broke down, crying inconsolably. I’ll have to be more sensitive around him in future !

Jenn and the kids have been keeping in touch with friends and relatives on Facebook, and Jenn has been very busy posting photos and videos, being very proud of some of her efforts. Here’s one that does a good job of summing up our Christmas : Christmas at An Grianan


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