My Dad was 33 when I was born. When my son Patrick was born, I was 33. So I can stand back at times and look at Patrick and think: “This is how my Dad saw and sees me through his eyes.”
Hopefully, in time, we will reach the day together when Dad will be 99, I will be 66 and Patrick will be 33. The genes are excellent on Dad’s side so it is a reasonable expectation.
Patrick is now 14 (you are now doing the maths working out the ages of Dad and I). When I was his age, I was waking up on Christmas morning in my Granny’s house in Ballyjamesduff. She lived to the ripe old age of 99, by the way. A day or two after getting off school for Christmas, I would stand at the bus stop on the Navan Road across from Brady’s garage (good Cavan people, too, of course), for the Streamline bus to Virginia.
After breakfast on Christmas morning in these pre-smartphone or internet days of the 1980s, the farm took a half day
There, my uncle Philip would be waiting to pick me up for the beginning of my Christmas holidays on the farm. On Christmas morning I’d get up and put on my old clothes. And then it was out to fodder the cattle with barrow loads of silage. Back then, it was a pit rather than round bales. It was harder work with the pit. There were cows in the bier and cattle in the big shed to be fed. Then, it was time to scrape out the dung with a scraper through flaps at the end of the shed into the slurry tank. That was sweaty work. Breakfast followed. Mass had been gotten to the night before.
After “midnight” mass (at 9pm) the night before, it was into the pub for a barrel of Cavan Cola. The bar was full. About seven men. All farmers. Only one of them married. After breakfast on Christmas morning in these pre-smartphone or internet days of the 1980s, the farm took a half day. Philip would do a few more jobs out and about while Granny and I would watch whatever was on TV, The Two Ronnies or Morcame and Wise. Or maybe Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Christmas Day TV hasn’t really changed that much over the years, has it?
All dressed up
Granny would be sitting all dressed up; hair perfect with her coat on and handbag in her lap as Philip would be coming back in from the farm to wash and get ready. I would have my new crisp clothes on. Patrick will struggle to ditch the tracksuit and wear a pair of socks like most 14-year-olds today.
When I was 14, I was a bit of a fashionista. In 1987, my “Christmas clothes” was probably made up of a white grandfather (collarless) shirt, black and white chessboard jumper, black trousers, white socks and black suede shoes with the laces on the side. Off to my aunty Kathleen and Uncle Michael in Cavan town for Christmas dinner. Sitting amongst all the adults, and visitors coming and going and me spoiled with money and presents. That was my Christmas Day for about ten years. It wasn’t until St Stephen’s Day when Mam and Dad and my siblings came to Cavan that I got my Santa Claus present. I didn’t mind. Those Christmas Days remain etched into me as great and happy times.
I am looking at Patrick this Christmas; thinking about when I was his age, retracing exactly how my day was going along in Cavan back in the day and smiling. Happy Christmas! CL
Dear Santa. All I want for Christmas is the desire to keep running. It is always a challenge this time of year! #hangover #chocolate