Francesca's Party
Patricia’s Perfect Christmas Morning by Patricia Scanlan
2014/12/06  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Much as I love Christmas, it is very different now since my beloved mother is no longer with us.  But I have the most wonderful memories of childhood Christmas Mornings that were beyond perfect.

Patricia Scanlan

When I was a child there was no such thing as putting your tree up weeks in advance. Our crib, tree and decorations went up on Christmas Eve when we were all in bed. My parents worked like Trojans to create a magical wonderland for us. I had four brothers and a sister and we would be fizzing with anticipation of the magical day ahead of us. Exhausted from excitement we’d drift off to sleep half-fearful of waking and finding Santa in the bedroom, or hearing the reindeer’s hooves on the roof.

I can’t describe to you the heart in mouth experience of waking in the dark to feel a heavy weight on your feet. Has he come? You’d wonder and give an experimental wiggle. Yes definitely something heavy at your feet. Happiness, exhilaration and relief that I had been good enough to get a present from Santa would envelope me as I opened the gifts he had left at the end of my bed.

‘He’s come. He’s come,’ one of us would shout and we’d all race into our parents’ bedroom, exploring our stockings with their treasure throve of satsumas, toffee sweets in a round tin with a picture on the lid, and a shiny newly minted penny. We’d tumble downstairs and close our eyes until my father plugged in the lights of the Christmas tree and stand in awe and wonder at his creation. Dad took great pride in his tree and to this day all of us will try and find the fullest, firmest, most perfect tree we can find.

My mother’s crib was another source of joy and delight. Baby Jesus lay in his manger with straw on the floor and ivy trailing over black papier-mâché mountains that the Three Wise Men had just traversed. An old silver sheriff’s badge atop the crib shone more brightly than any star of Bethlehem. We still have that star and crib and all the figurines, although one of the sheep has lost a leg.

After breakfast we’d troop off to early Mass dressed in our new clothes, shoes gleaming from the polishing my dad had given them the previous night, our hands snug in new mittens.  Our freezing breath frosty white, made us hope it might snow.   The church would be full and even now, all these years later I still find on Christmas morning the air of innocence, and joy and excitement that I remember from my childhood.

The crib was enormous and we would clamber over one another at the altar rail to get the best view. To a child’s eye the large figurines of the Holy Family looked almost lifelike. We would be reduced to silence at the mystery and magic of the scene in front of us. After Mass, a visit to our aunt, uncle and cousins, for lemonade and mince pies before heading home, where the aromas wafting from the kitchen were indescribable, and our toys, books and annuals awaited us under the sparkling tree as another perfect Christmas morning promised more delights to come.

 Francesca's Party

Quick Fire Round:

Q: What is your favourite Christmas song?

A: Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.

 

Q: Baileys or Mulled Wine?

A: Baileys.

 

Q: Favourite ever Christmas present?

A: High heeled Cinderella glass slippers.

 

Q: Mince Pie or Yule Log?

A: Mince Pie

 

Q: What would you like to find in your Christmas stocking this year?

A: A voucher for a week in a Health Spa!

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