A Christmas Story 1955

by Carmel Sheeran, Galway

National Museum of Ireland

I hadn’t been home for Christmas for nigh on fifteen years

The fragrance of Christmas pudding still lingers in the warm kitchen. The fire glowed in the black, shining range. Dad in his armchair on one side of it, and Mam opposite him. My brothers and myself sat at the large kitchen table.  I hadn’t been home for Christmas for nigh on fifteen years, and I was so happy to be with the family.

Dad said to Oliver, “ give us a few tunes on your mouth organ. Ollie always has his mouth-organ near at hand, so he started off the singsong with “Jingle Bells”. We all sang lustily “ away in a manger” and “ home on the range”, and other favourites. Then Eddie went upstairs and returned with his guitar. He strummed in tune with Oliver. We had a rest from all the singing and listened to the lads play jigs and reels. I saw Dad reach for the old tin tea caddy, which he placed between his knees. He played drums on it, with two spoons.

“Its made Christmas for all of us, to have you home..”

When the recital ended, Dad looked across at me and said “ Give us a bar of “Silent night” Carmel.  I was blessed with a sweet singing voice, so i started to sing. As I got to the second verse, I looked across at Dad, to see tears running down his weather beaten  face. When I finished singing that much loved carol, He said “ Your gifted agirl”, and  its made Christmas for all of us, to have you home”. Mam decided to ease Dads emotions by saying “We’ll have a nice cup of tea after all that singing”. She lifted the big black kettle neared the heat, and soon had it singing it own song.

Its over fifty years since that wonderful Christmas day, when we were all together and I’ve never forgotten it.

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