By far the most beautiful reason to live in an Irish village at Christmas is watching people come home for the holidays. This week in particular, the sons and daughters of Ballyduff are returning home. You’ll see them on the beach, in the shop, the butchers, walking into the graveyard, at Mass, why even in the pub. They’re easy to spot, they’re on holidays, always have lovely coats (!) and if you’re lucky have a gorgeous child by their side with a lovely accent and eyes open wide in wonder at the rest of us.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll overhear the conversation as one of the shiny returning sons or daughters are paraded up the street by way of getting out from under her feet or on the pretext of buying bread for an already overloaded freezer. Really, Mom is sending you up the village because she wants everyone to see you’re home, to rekindle that connection of your homeplace in you, for you to be admired and for her to hear in the dark days of January when you’ve gone, how well you looked and how great you were to come home.
The conversations, once captured, normally go as follows;
‘Look you’re home, you look great, Mom/Dad must be delighted.’
‘Isn’t it great to be home for the Christmas!’
‘Is this your little one? He/she is pure (insert local name of choice) Brosnan, O’Sullivan, Connor.’ (Coincidentally, it doesn’t matter if the party inquiring has ever met your spouse, they will undoubtedly find some family trait in your offspring).
‘How are you getting on over? Are you home for long?’
They are the shiny trophy on display in the community hall, the polished class picture on the school wall, becoming more and more like their father and they’re so welcome home.
May your Christmas bring joy to your household, peace to your nights sleep and luxury to your stockings.
Nollaig Shona from all in Hearthill,
Anne, Dan, Philip, Daniel and Anthony x