Did you miss me?Â I have been spending the Christmas season with my family.Â Christmas Day passed off peacefully; everyone was good, everyone liked the presents offered by kind benevolent Santa Claus and generous relatives.
We drove down to Cork on the 27th.Â I haven’t driven that road in nearly 10 years.Â It’s improved a lot.Â True, the boom may be gone but they can’t take our roads away from us.Â Cork was peaceful and presentful.Â The children did not disgrace us in the presence of my relatives.
My father told a story of the joys of living in a small city.Â When my father was a little boy, a barber used to come to the house to trim his grandfather’s beardÂ (a man who was born during the famine, fancy that).Â My father emigrated to Britain and when he came back to Cork several years later, he went to the barber on the Western Road who had trimmed his grandfather’s beard.Â As he walked in the door, the barber instantlyÂ said, “Master Dan!”
As is traditional when we visit Cork at Christmas, we took the children to Fota wildlife park. Â As is equally traditional the parents enjoyed it and the children did not. Â Matters began inauspiciously with the Princess announcing that she hated animals.Â We ignored this unhelpful intervention and tried to jolly her along.Â Once we got there, Michael and Daniel joined in the revolt.Â About half way around, Daniel stopped moving and stood in the path with his arms folded. Â â€œWhatâ€™s the matter, sweetheart?â€ â€œI am displeased,â€ he said without further explanation. Â Anxious to avoid one of his spectacular temper tantrums (one night before Christmas he rampaged around the house naked â€“ he did not wish to put on his pyjamas – and screaming for a significant length of time; he is the most empathic of my children but when he loses his temper the consequences are terrifying)Â we carried him the rest of the way. Â Michael was far more articulate about his concerns.Â He started to cry in a nasty petulant kind of way. Â â€œWhatâ€™s wrong, sweetheart?â€Â He ticked his grievances off on his tiny fingers, â€œone, I am frozen, two I am tired, three I am sick, four I want to do a wee.â€ Â We carried him the rest of the way too.Â The Princess trailed along behind whining that nobody was carrying her and NO she did not want to see the cheetahs. Â At one point she leaned her head on a fence and a monkey ran over it. Â This piqued her interest for a moment and she asked me belligerently whether I had got a photo. Â Needless to say, I had not.Â Not 43 euros worth of unalloyed pleasure then.
We drove back to Dublin on New Yearâ€™s Eve, blithely informing the aghast Cork relatives that we would be back shortly. Â I went to the supermarket and bought some food and a half bottle of Tescoâ€™s special champagne to see in the new year. Â Oh yes, itâ€™s all glamour here.
We took the children to see Fossettâ€™s circus (founded 1888 apparently and certainly around when I was a little girl) which I enjoyed very much putting my hands over my eyes for the cage of death which Mr. Waffle and the children were very blasÃ© about.
Tomorrow is the last day of Christmas, alas.Â We have our memories and a picture of the children with Santa which we stuck on our calendar.
Me (indulgently): Look itâ€™s you and the boys with Santa.
Her: No, itâ€™s us with a random stranger.
Sometimes that child is too smart for her own good.
Happy new year.