You have never experienced anything like a North Kerry storm. The same Atlantic that invites us to dip our toes in it in June asks for payment come December. There she is, blasting her salts at our windows and banging at the door as the whole house shakes with the roaring from the Atlantic’s latest gale. And outside there is black but for the light in the shed over the cows. The cows are in their winter home chewing away at the silage before them mostly oblivious to the storm overhead.

With his tractor parked up for the evening, our farmer crawls around after young boys on the sitting room floor. Relieved with the break, I potter about the kitchen preparing the place for the holiday season ahead. There are lists to be written, mince pies for the freezer, the odd wall to be washed. There is much to be done for the arrival of Christmas and I’m glad of it. Winter I think can be hard in the country and find it perhaps little coincidence that such festivities (although theologists may disagree) take place during the darkest times in the year to remind us that there is light.

‘Light the candle’ the middle boy says as his head peeks over the counter top at me. ‘Burn another day.’ We burn the candle further down on its wick until it reaches number five telling us where we are in our preparations. We’ll have to go for the Christmas tree soon and the crib will go up. All the activities to keep us busy in our home until the light comes back and the heavy work begins again. All the activities that bring us together reminding us of the good, of how it is being together hibernating in the winter, of all the light we have in our lives.

Twenty one more sleeps.

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