Christmas Eve, 2021
My sister sent me an advent calendar which she made herself with Christmas pictures from years past which I absolutely loved.
The last picture is a still from a video 10 years ago when the boys and I were walking through Temple Bar. Michael peered at it “Is that you? I can’t believe how young you look compared to now.” Telling it like it is, our Michael.
We drove down to Cork. In a genius move, Daniel had downloaded the “Muppet Christmas Carol” soundtrack which serenaded us part of the way. Herself was testing us on the Myles Na gCopaleen “Catechism of Cliche” where I was doing exceptionally well, I might add. “You know,” I said to her, “he was from Northern Ireland.” Daniel, busy listening to the Muppets said in considerable surprise, “What Kermit?” “Yes,” said Mr. Waffle, “that’s why he’s so green.” We’re hilarious.
The in-laws in London sent us a message that some Christmas pantomime had to be cancelled as Beauty and the Beast both got Covid.
Moving on from the Muppets we had general Christmas carols and played “Il est né le divin enfant” which was previously unknown to me but appears to occupy the space in French culture which “Away in a Manager” does here (mostly for the children’s Christmas nativity play but can be gussied up for more formal occasions). Mr. Waffle said that he had heard it on Lyric FM (yes, we are now Lyric listeners – your point?) earlier and the host said, “From my French, I think that means “he is not the divine infant.” So close. And as herself regularly says to me, slightly sardonically, “context clues.”
We had three hours in the car. It’s a long time. This interaction is not untypical.
Me: Michael, you need a new guitar string, don’t you?
Mr. Waffle: Which string?
Michael (tetchily – he’s the one in the boot): Give me a minute, I’m trying to think.
Herself (briefly removing her earphones): This is exactly what will happen during all Christmas interactions.
Me: I’m sure it’s not.
Her(sticking back in her earphones) : Yes it is. Cassandra out.
Things perked up when we got to Cork. My sister had spent weeks getting my parents’ house ready for our arrival and we all had beds (not a given) and I hadn’t seen it so pleasant and organised since before my mother got sick. And she had dinner ready for us. Delightful.
Over dinner, I mentioned my father calling him Daddy and the children thought I meant their father whom I also call Daddy (I know, I know, I try not to, it’s horrendous). Mr. Waffle pointed out that my family has too few names for too many people. “Look at Dan,” he suggested. “Well, my father is dead and my brother is in Tenerife, so in fact, there are no Dans,” I said tartly. “What am I?” asked my misfortunate son Daniel who was sitting beside me. Alas.
We walked up to midnight mass at 9 in the evening. It rained on us and the church was surpisingly empty. The priest galloped through it (he skipped the second reading which I didn’t approve of but I quite liked if you see what I mean) and even with a choir (which was a lovely surprise given Covid restrictions) we were out by 9.45 for our damp walk home.
Christmas Day, 2021
We were all up reasonably early but not as early as Daniel who woke at 3 in the morning and in his excitement couldn’t get back to sleep and spent the night watching Spiderman films. Good presents all round and my sister cooked an incredible Christmas dinner for all of us and for my aunt who came in from next door.
Mr. Waffle, the Princess and I went to visit my parents’ grave – the graveyard was full of people, who knew this was a thing? I probably wouldn’t have gone myself, if it hadn’t been my father’s anniversary.
Overall, a great success and the visit to the graveyard wasn’t even too bad – it’s an interesting graveyard – mock all you like.
St. Stephen’s Day, 2021
I had booked those who were willing (Michael and herself) in to the outdoor skating circuit in Fota. It was a bit of a pain finding the entrance (don’t ask) but actually great fun when we got there. The skating circuit was small (and I have no idea how they kept it frozen) but outdoors which was lovely. And while I wouldn’t call any of us star skaters (even though herself had been to Somerset House when she was in London – less glam than Cork, I’m sure but still good practice) we appeared better at it than the majority of people. There was a very slight downhill slope which meant that for half the circuit little effort was involved. At the very last minute, as we were getting off the ice, I fell over. The injury to my dignity was severe but otherwise no lasting harm done.
Herself sent the following message to the family group chat:
Have lost £100 in an unmarked envelope (save your laughter) so please look carefully before you recycle/burn anything!
The money was a present from her aunt and my sister and I found it by going through the large green bin outside. I feel my unmerited reputation for throwing out everything was, alas, reinforced by this episode. Yeah, it was me, of course, it was me, if you leave an unmarked envelope on the floor, I will throw it out. On the plus side sorting of rubbish for environmental reasons made this a more pleasant task than it would have been in times past.
Monday, December 27, 2021
Mr. Waffle and I went to Kinsale to visit a friend of his who was back from London. We would have taken the children for a walk as well but it was lashing so they were spared. She renovated her house extensively and it is, I must say, extremely swish.
When we got back to Cork, Mr. Waffle asked where the Irish Times was as he had succeeded in completing the prize crossword. Back to the recycling bin. Look, if you don’t want a three day old newspaper thrown out, you have to say something. I fear my reputation may be consolidated though.
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Herself and myself went for breakfast in the Crawford together. “I’m trying a look, don’t say anything,” she said slightly dauntingly before we went out. I did not say anything.
We had a look at the Rembrandt exhibition. It was grand but I am not a big Rembrandt fan, still interesting to have seen it.
Mr. Waffle and the children went back to Dublin, filling the car to the brim with loot. I stayed an extra night to meet a school friend who had come back from America for Christmas with her husband and four children.
My friend described her departure from America in such hair-raising terms (antigen test places closed due to Covid cases in the staff) that I have zero desire to do anything like this. However, she reckons that we could have Covid for ten years (she’s a doctor but a cardiologist, I really, really hope she’s wrong) and we had better start doing things. I don’t know. Contexts seem to be different in different countries.
It was interesting, the Princess was saying that in England, no one ever talks about NZ and it’s all about Sweden. We are all about NZ and their extremely successful strategies for dealing with Covid but I haven’t heard too much coverage of Sweden, a bit I mean but it isn’t the first country Irish media outlets seem to look at.
I finally (two years after my mother’s death) cleaned my stuff out of my childhood bedroom, something she had been asking me to do since 1993. To be fair there wasn’t much left – some college and school essays, old papers, a few pieces of jewellery. My sister was suitably impressed by my ability to chuck things but I think I had probably brought to Dublin years ago anything of value to me.
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
I went in to the market to get a poke bowl to bring to herself in Dublin because I am a saint. The wretched Cork bike stands weren’t working in two places so this delayed me. However, I must give credit to the people in TFI who I emailed in some irritation and who replied instantly to say call us and we can re-start the screen for you. Very gratifying. Nevertheless, I was slightly late for my sister who had promised to give me a lift back to Dublin. In my defence, my sister has become punctual and that put me off.
It was nice to be home all the same. Poor next door had had Christmas cancelled as their first born despite being double vaccinated had got Covid again. They had been going to host Christmas dinner so had to dole out supplies to relations from behind closed doors. The parents and younger child had been scheduled to go skiing and were antigen testing every day. They did get off but it’s all a bit stressful.
Thursday, December 30, 2021
A friend from work and his four children came to visit. I was able to deploy my Christmas ware and also the fruits of my Christmas hampers. I was delighted with myself. He said that my kitchen reminded him of Mr. Tumnus’s and I was thrilled as I suddenly realised that this was the look I had been going for all along.
New Year’s Eve, 2021
Our Irish Times did not come but there was the neighbours’ copy on their doorstep. Later, Mr. Waffle realised that the neighbours don’t get the IT during the week and they had obviously got our copy. When he went to retrieve it, it was gone. Who were we to begrudge the poor self-isolating one a paper?
Mr. Waffle and I went out for breakfast and when we came back, we began to dole out tasks to the children. Daniel said, “I knew when I heard you come in – clompity stromp (his own invention but I like it) – that it would be empty the dishwasher, put away clothes.” I am afraid it was. I am predictable that way.
We went off for a post-Christmas visit to the cousins. Very pleasant. “Had we any plans for this evening?” they asked. I looked blank, I had completely forgotten it was new year’s eve.
Herself had to bail a bit early as she was going to the theatre with a friend (Faith Healer – it was grand).
Everything closed at 8 so she was back by half past. We all went to bed but were awoken at midnight by the quite spectacular illegal firework display nearby. We had some champagne and wished the neighbours a happy new year including the Covid one who was waving from her front door at her friends standing by the gate.
It was fine, you know, but herself said to me that all her friends in England had put up on instragram, fireworks and meetings with friends and Dublin is just dead. “There’ll be other new years,” I said encouragingly. “Not when I am 18 and new year just isn’t the same when you’re 52.” I am afraid that is unanswerable. Although when I was cleaning out my room I found a third of a pound note which I had split with two friends on new year’s eve 1989 saying that we would meet again in 1999 and put it together. Reader, we did not. But I was reminded of that very dull evening in the rugby club in 1989 when we had been reduced to tearing up a pound note for a mild thrill. I suppose what I’m saying is that not all new year festivities are what they might be.
New Year’s Day, 2022
Mr. Waffle and I went for a lovely walk. Lovely walk was lovely. We avoided the traffic chaos on the way by taking our bikes. So my walk was accompanied by a side order of smug glow.
Sunday, 2 January, 2022
Fresh from the successful walk the previous day, I announced to the children that we were going to Howth for a walk. Herself said that she planned to dedicate her day to college work but the boys and Mr. Waffle, God love them, were resigned to their fate.
When I was in mass my phone rang which has never happened to me before. It was a friend. I did not answer or check the text messages she sent but spent all mass thinking that someone we both know must have died because what else could it be to require an actual phone call.
Anyhow, when I got out it was to find that she was suggesting a walk at 2.30 in the park with a third friend. I was delighted. The menfolk graciously agreed to defer their walk.
When I got home there was a message from my brother-in-law – whom we had met on Friday – that he had just got a positive antigen test (they were going out to meet friends and he had one to be on the safe side). Herself pulled out the stash of free, yes, free tests that she had brought home from England and I twirled away (v unpleasant it was too). Negative. I told my friends, they said come on the walk anyway. I did. I mean all three of us are triple vaccinated and we were meeting outside.
And it was brilliant. There is nothing like meeting people in person. I came home full of energy and enthusiasm and tackled the old receipts and guarantees box. In no way do I have form for throwing out necessary things.
My brother is home from Tenerife and he called to find out why both recycling bins in Cork are full. What can I say, I’m good at recycling.
I hope that your own Christmas was happy and Covid free.