And so we are now counting down the days to Christmas. The excitement is infectious in our house as preparations are well underway. Cakes nearly iced. Presents nearly wrapped. Sticky tape could be found anywhere. No one can find the scissors and no one is owning up to who lost it! Of course we have run out of gift cards for the remaining three presents to wrap. Attending carol services, Christmas breakfasts with the school, shopping…The usual helter skelter that we all fall into every year.
We have placed wreaths on all our family’s graves as was the tradition when my mother was alive. This year an extra wreath was purchased and left until last. We are no different to countless of families all over the world this Christmas mourning a loved one. I know there will be tears but there will be laughter too as we remember fondly our mother because at the end of the day she was much loved.
I have posted a poem by Patrick Kavanagh to remind myself of when I was a child. Hope you enjoy it.
Wishing all of you a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. A special thank you for reading my posts this past year. x
A Christmas Childhood
by Patrick Kavanagh
One side of the potato-pits was white with frost –
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.
The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven’s gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw –
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me
To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood’s. Again
The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch,
Or any common sight, the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.
My father played the melodion
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodion called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy’s hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon — the Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
‘Can’t he make it talk –
The melodion.’ I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade –
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodion,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.
(1996) Patrick Kavanagh Selected Poems. 14-15. Penguin