Jan 182010
Collage of various Christmas images, made from...

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I’ve been away in Scotland, and with that trip coming hot on the heels of the Holidays I have neglected to post for a while. Back now, and normal service will resume shortly.

Meanwhile, here’s the belated posting of my pre Christmas column for 23/12/2009….

It beats me how something that’s been actively promoted since early October has still managed to suddenly sneak up on me, but yet again Christmas has managed it. All of a sudden the shopping days have dwindled to single figures, and the urge to panic buy sets in, despite the fact that this year we did most of our shopping online both for convenience and to save money.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the "shop local for Christmas" philosophy, money is tighter for everyone this year. It’s hard to justify buying local when you can get stocking fillers like books, CDs and the like delivered to your door, sometimes for less than half the price of buying them in your local shop and without any of the hassle. Where local shops can compete in terms of value, or even come close, then I’ll certainly choose to support them, but when there are massive savings to be made online, I’m sorry, but charity very definitely begins at home.

One thing we’ll certainly be shopping for locally this Christmas is food. You simply can’t beat seasonal, locally produced, locally sold produce. While it may be a bit more expensive, in terms of freshness, quality and value it’s generally much better bet than mass-produced supermarket fare, and at the end of the day it tastes much better. While CDs and books, gadgets and gizmos are the same wherever you buy them from, food is always better when bought as close as possible to the source. Buying local simply makes sense.

But I’m digressing… back to that bad habit Christmas has of creeping up on you.

In October when all the hype started I paid it little heed. There were literally months left before Christmas — no need to panic! The months turned into weeks, then days, and almost without warning it was time to put up the tree and fetch the decorations from the attic.

Every year we get a real tree from the girls’ cousins who have a fine selection growing on their farm near Drimoleague in West Cork. There’s nothing like a real tree, but the spiky needles are a nightmare both for small hands hanging decorations and when they inevitably shed all over the floor, the couch and anything else within a twelve foot radius of the tree, so when the girls’ Nana got a new artificial tree this year, and offered us her old one, we decided to break with tradition and give the fake tree a try.

At first the girls weren’t convinced. How could a fake tree possibly compare with the real thing? It never could, of course, but I have to say that, now it’s up and decorated, I’m surprised at how well it looks.

The other thing we have to decide this week is what we’ll be eating for Christmas dinner. The girls have asked if we can have turkey "for a change". Generally I’ll get something a bit different at Christmas — goose, duck and venison have all made an appearance in recent years — but if they want turkey for Christmas, I guess we’ll have turkey for Christmas, and turkey leftovers for the rest of the holidays.

Christmas may have crept up on us again this year, but it can’t come quickly enough for the girls; the little one in particular is so excited I swear she’ll burst before Christmas morning. Their excitement is contagious, and while the commercial circus that surrounds Christmas can be a bit tedious, the day itself is a wonderfully special one for all the family. Truth be told, now it’s nearly here, I can’t wait for it to arrive either. Merry Christmas.

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