Christmas in Allen Park – Part 2
My son Jacob is flying in from New York and will arrive this afternoon, this mama bear is over the moon with a happy heart. It’s pissing rain with overcast skies and apparently will rain for the next four days. Yes we need it I wont complain but what are the odds, rain in Palm Springs again? I believe in climate change.
At this time of year my childhood memories of Christmas merge into one. We watched epic Christmas movies like The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Ten commandants and The Children of Fatima. Early Christmas Eve, we had a bath and put our new Pajamas on. I left a little glass of whiskey for santa and a carrot for Rudolph on the small table beside the tree, then ma would bring us up to bed. I looked out the window searching the black sky for Santa and his reindeers. “He wont come until your asleep,’’ she said, and she tucked me in and kissed my forehead, “say your prayers.” I prayed, “god bless mammy and daddy, Joseph and Aidan, Mairead and Aine, nana and father all my uncles and aunts and cousins and everyone else,” till I fell asleep.
My mother would go downstairs and busy herself in the kitchen preparing the stuffing for the turkey, peeling potatoes and carrots and whatever else. We always had a full house even on Christmas eve. Dad would invite friends and neighbors over for a drink and mammy, god love her, made plates of ham sandwiches from her magnificent whole baked ham with a crusty turnover of bread. A big old “sing song” took place and everyone did their party piece, which is a story in itself. The ashtrays piled with dozens of butts and dirty glasses with the dregs of booze covering every surface of the living room. No dishwasher back then. In the wee hours my father assembled the toys that needed to be put together and Ma put everything under the tree. She’d get a few hours sleep before we woke up and ran down to see what Santa left under the tree.
Christmas morning after a big “fry up” for breakfast, we went to mass and then dad would drive into town and pick up my grandparents, uncle Harry, Jimmy and Dermot and they came out to us for the day. We feasted on a big juicy turkey and ham with ma’s perfectly roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips, the dreaded Brussel sprouts that were boiled to death and Marrowfat peas. Nana made Christmas pudding for desert and we had it with birds custard.
We played monopoly and Cludo and the adults later played cards. I heard my mother was a shark and my brother Joseph became a brilliant card player with his sharp mind. Uncle Harry was a marvelous story teller and would have us on the edge of our seat with tales of banshees and ghosts and frighten the Bejasus out of us.
Nana, (who hated the drink) would partake in a thimble size glass of Advocate that my dad would hand her.
One year, Joseph got a beautiful wooden case with two dueling pistols sitting on red velvet with a small vile containing oil. We played musketeers with them and I knew inside that he treasured that gift. He had a wooden fort with cowboys and Indians and we played for hours with it. Santa never forgot a thing that we asked for and looking back now, I feel blessed. Once after we got all our presents, Ma exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot something,’’ and went out into the hall closet and returned and handed me my first book set – Little House on the Praire. “And that’s from me and your da,” she said. I was over the moon. And after reading book one, I was instantly in love with everything American, I wanted a Calico dress and hard sucky candies, I wanted to run like the wild wind through the prairies, eat biscuits made in a griddle and ride in a covered wagon.