Christmas is coming, and the turkey and ham are ordered from our local butchers, Osborne’s, in Blarney. We will make a trip to the English Market for a lump of Dan McCarthy’s spiced beef, along with other scrumptious items. That was it for preparations in this house up to last weekend.

All our energies have gone into getting Diarmuid over his kidney transplant surgery. His anti-rejection drugs have to be taken every twelve hours and at the same time for the rest of his life. Nine out of 10 times, Diarmuid will remember himself. We can’t afford for that one time to be missed, so one of us has to be paying attention, always.

We’ve had two trips back to hospital, two weeks in CUH and an overnight to Beaumont, for removal of a stent. Diarmuid has not been out and about, otherwise, and we haven’t had people in to visit. Over Christmas we plan to relax a bit, with a view to Diarmuid resuming his normal activities in the new year.

On the practical side, I hope to make three 10” cakes (one for us and two for gifts) and a few puddings. At least one will be gluten free.

We love mince pies. I always mix the minced meat with some cooking apples – one medium apple,grated, to one jar of mince – to make it less concentrated. These are the little things that make Christmas at home special. Each homemaker puts his or her own stamp on Christmas. Each mammy, granny or carer does it differently. In fact, several menus are often served within any Christmas dinner.

Why make Christmas difficult on yourself or on your loved ones?

I have one gluten-free dinner, one who prefers ham to turkey, one who prefers turkey to ham, brown meat over white and others that like it in equal parts. One with no gravy and one who just wants dinner with cranberry sauce.

The point is that Christmas in every home is quite different and that’s what makes it so nice to be at home. Yet, it is important to remember that it is only a dinner.

Let decisions flow

So, will we be doing all these menus along with an option for three-year-old Ricky? I’m not sure yet.

I’d love to have all the family, but I’m utterly realistic about this. There was a letter in last week’s Irish Country Living on this very topic. It prompted me to think about our reactions. Christmas at home is wonderful, but oftentimes there are two homes involved (or even two countries). When children come along, there could be a third home involved. Why make Christmas difficult on yourself or on your loved ones?

I remember being lonely when I couldn’t go home for Christmas. I also loved Christmas dinner with Tim’s family. Then, when four children were just too many to drag to someone else’s house, we stayed at home – and those were magical years.

Those memories are beautiful and real. Time moves on, situations change and our adult childrens’ first commitment is to their husbands and wives. Where they decide to spend Christmas day is up to them. I make sure they all know they’re welcome and that I understand if they choose to go elsewhere. We will get together for a dinner over Christmas on another day and that will be a special day. There are times when you have to decide to be happy.

Have the chat

Children get a lot of stuff for Christmas and Santa brings presents. Parents allow children to write to Santa for big items, forgetting that Santa has to pay the elves and get all the toys made. Materials cost a lot of money. Santa will do his best but expectations have to be realistic. If meeting the Christmas bills is difficult for you, have the discussion with the children and the rest of the family.

We’ve done our Kris Kringle draw and it takes all the pressure out of buying presents. We have a limit of €100 so the burden isn’t too much for anyone. Being the only grandchild, Ricky scores as each couple buys for him.

So be kind to yourself this Christmas. Accept the adult childrens’ decisions. Then, make some decisions for yourself. Set a time for when you can get together for a glass of mulled wine and a chat. It really is all about the chat.

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