December 29, 2009 | Leave a Comment

The week before Christmas saw us treated to a visit from Zach, Madison, Kris and Dana, who left sunny Florida to brave the sub-zero temperatures of NY. It was fun to see them, since they hadn’t been up in over a year, and the kids had a great time sledding on the snow – or rather, ice – in the garden and in our local park, a stately home right across the road from us. Alas, they were only able to stay 4 days before they had to head back home to the glorious sunshine. For some reason they weren’t too unhappy to go ! They did promise to come back in the summer, though.

Meanwhile, unlike in Ireland, it seems that almost everyone in the US collects a Christmas tree weeks before the actual feast – in many cases, in fact, cutting down a tree at a farm immediately after Thanksgiving. Since I prefer not getting the tree until the week before Christmas, however, it was Dec 23rd when Orla, Eoghan and I piled into the truck in search of the perfect tree. After failing to find a tree of any kind at the usual local shop, and calling in a similarly fruitless fashion at a number of garden centers nearby, the kids were starting to complain that their Christmas would be ruined because of Dad. The chorus of invective grew louder when we called at the Christmas Tree Farm to discover that it was…closed for the season ! How bizarre, I thought. Undaunted, we continued on (ignoring Eoghan’s complaints that he was tired driving around and we were never going to find a tree and it was all Dad’s fault) and found a magnificent, 8′ specimen – one of two left – at the local agricultural supply store. (There are some benefits to living in the boonies. If we ever need a tractor, or bales of hay, we know where to go).

When we got the tree home, and into the Red Room, we got it up without too much trouble (Okay, so Jenn did most of the heavy lifting for me!) After Eoghan helped me string up about ten sets of lights – he had previously set up the lights in our garden – he and Orla then decorated it, and did a darn good job !

The children were obviously sufficiently well-behaved this year, as Santa Claus honoured us with a visit. In the lead-up to Christmas, the lists were dispatched, and we were able to use the threat of no presents, or the dreaded coal-in-the-stocking scenario, to keep the kids in line – most of the time, anyway ! On Christmas Eve night, though, once we had read ‘Twas the night before Christmas, they all hastened off to bed in plenty of time to make sure they got to sleep before Santy turned up. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was because they had been truly good children that Santa was so good to them, or merely because they had left out carrots for the reindeer, and milk and cookies – and a snort of Grand Marnier – for St. Nick. In any event, they were thrilled with their presents.

They were up bright and early on Christmas morning to check out their stockings, which were hanging in the kitchen. Santa leaves the main presents, however, in our living room – the Red Room – and he locked the door (or, at least, tied the handles!) as he left. The rule in our house is that we go to church before presents, so they had to wait to see what was in store for them. As it happens, Jenn stayed home with Conall, and the rest of us arrived back from church to discover that Conall was going ballistic, having already managed to open the door and was hell-bent on digging through the presents. Jenn was only barely able to restrain him until we arrived back.

All their patience was worth it, however; Eoghan was thrilled to get what he had asked for – a train set and a popcorn maker ! (Now, whenever we have a movie night, when we watch a movie on our big screen, he proceeds to make us all popcorn. At least he hasn’t started to charge us for it yet !). Orla got her main present early – yet another dog ! This one is a golden retriever, albeit white, named Angel. She and I drove two hours to the breeder in Connecticut to pick it up, two weeks ago. Orla also got a huge pinup poster of some guy from the movie Twilight, who, it seems, is her current hottie, as well as a pile of books and a skateboard for her Wii. Conall was delighted with his little trainset, as well as paraphernalia associated with his favourite TV shows, Spongebob and Diego.

We had dinner with Sue in her house, the party including Beth, and Justin and Carol, and Carol’s parents and aunt and uncle. I’m not supposed to make insulting comments in public about Sue’s cooking, or that of Carol or her mother, so suffice it to say that we brought along our own turkey and stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. Although I must say that Sue’s sweet potatoes were great, and the other two turkeys looked not too bad ! Sue had decorated her house up a storm, and it was fabulous – just like Tavern on the Green.

Once we were able to revive ourselves, we dragged ourselves back to our house where we continued to eat too much, and had a fun night watching movies. The next day we were all pretty tired, and in the evening laughed as we watched Conall. It was not even 7pm when he went up to the bedroom that he shares with Eoghan, to find the door closed with Eoghan playing inside. He knocked on the door and said Eoghnie, I need you. Open door. When Eoghan opened, Conall went inside to his crib. Up, he demanded, and when Jenn lifted him inside he lay down, grabbed his bottle and his favourite stuffed animal, pulled up the covers, turned on his side and went straight to sleep. It’s a pity that doesn’t happen every night…

All in all, it was a great Christmas !


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