Photo: Catherine O’Dowd
I remember with great fondness the Christmas visit my aunt Honor made on us. It was Christmas 1960 and even though I was just six years old, it is like it was yesterday. She came full of Christmas cheer, her Ford Fiesta brimming to overflow with goodies to share. Honor was a jovial Mother Christmas, Fairy Godmother, and Godmother to me. She loved the Spirit of Christmas and it was contagious.
Running into the kitchen
From my perspective as a six year old, she represented excitement and a harbinger of good news. I looked forward with eagerness and excitement to her visit. Hardly able to contain my excitement, I danced up and down the yard, humming away to myself. It was a rarity to have a visitor from Dublin, and especially, one who had a car full of Christmas presents.
The day she arrived was a cold hard frosty day in December. A neighbour’s dog, Bran, barking loudly alerted us to her arrival. Margaret, my sister, who had been watching out for her, came running into the kitchen, shouting, “She’s here, she’s here”.
Then it was my mother’s turn to look excited and run to the front door and open it wide saying, “You’re welcome, Hon. Come in. Come in”. My father following closely behind her echoed her words. The rest of us children, crowding the hallway, ran and set her chair beside the fire. Before long she had a piping hot cup of tea in her hand and later a hot punch. My father and mother who rarely drank, joined her in a toast to her good health and long life to enjoy it.
All the boxes and parcels
My older brother and sister were entrusted with the honour of bringing in all the boxes and parcels from the car. As they filed passed me in the kitchen, I gave a surreptitious glance at each box that went by, wondering to myself, “What could be in that one? Who is that for? Could that be my one?” Meanwhile my aunt entertained us with her funny stories. Peals of laughter rang out when she asked my younger brother, William “Who made the world? He replied, “The Corporation”.
She enjoyed playing with us and spending time talking to us. We enjoyed her good humouredness, her sense of cheer and a certain sense of magic that emanated from her presence. When my time came to open my Christmas box, I was overjoyed to find a beautiful dress, chocolate brown in colour with knife pleats, that fitted me perfectly. I felt like a princess when I had it on, a princess who had been visited by Fairy Godmother, and Mammy Christmas. A Christmas box to remember.