Happy?? Christmas..

It’s that time of year…tinsel and tassels, baubles and balls, angels and well… lots of flashing lights!  I’m a bit of a traditionalist (one of the rare occasions in my life) when it comes to the colours on the tree – green, red with a little splash or gold or silver here and there.  There are a few (ahem!) Santa’s in varying levels of rotundness placed strategically around my kitchen…and hall…and living room!  I do have one stipulation however, there can be no Snowmen (or women) with carrot noses within 100 yards of me or my home!  I mean it…I’m completely serious!  Snowmen (or women) should only have “…a big top hat and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal…” as the lovely tune Frosty the Snowman goes.  Carrot’s are not noses…and when they are used as noses, they just look evil!  Hey… we all have quirks – that’s one of mine!

Isn’t it interesting though, how this sparkly, shiny, gift wrapped ‘season of joy’ brings out different sides to people?  Some people LOVE it, embrace it and immerse themselves in everything Christmas once December arrives.  Others are indifferent to whether it’s on the way, whether it comes or goes.  Then there are people who appear to hate this positivity laden, family-soaked, food and booze engorged period like a visit to the Dentist for root canal!  We all have varied experiences of the holiday season and indeed some of us don’t celebrate at all – whether by choice or religious orientation for example.  I consider myself very lucky to have had a childhood with mainly positive Christmas memories.  There were 6 kids to keep happy and fed so that was no easy thing for my parents and it’s beyond me how they did it.  My Dad told me about one Christmas during a really difficult time in the building trade (He was a builder having followed his own father to England to work in his early teens).  The weather was really awful and he was putting a roof on a house.  He had to get the job done to get paid, £10 an hour which was a fraction of his worth but it was work and he needed to earn.  The roof was so slippy that his boots wouldn’t grip and he kept sliding down the tiles as he worked on them so he took off his shoes and socks and worked in his bare feet to get the job done.  That was a tough, lean Christmas as he remembers it.  We, as kids, never knew.  We never knew the stress, the pressure, the demands that it placed on Mam and Dad.  So in that sense, they did a fantastic job.  Mind you, we didn’t write lists or letters for Santa in our house.  It really was a big surprise when you arrived down to the sitting room on Christmas morning to find what was waiting for you.  And we were never disappointed.

This is a wonderful time of year in many ways… but it’s also a really hard time for so many people.  Now more than ever, there is so much pressure on us as – the adults (and no…unfortunately there are no adultier adults to deal with this shit), the parents – to produce the goods!  I have to remind myself, over and over again, that it’s also my job to manage the expectations too!!  At the moment, it’s a tough time in this household – I’m the sole earner as my husband has been off work due to serious back surgeries that haven’t been successful.  This has impacted our lives as a family in many ways and at this time of year, the financial effect is clearer than ever.  What I do, though, when I start to worry about not fulfilling my boys expectations is think back to my childhood.  I barely remember a few of the gifts I received but more so I remember the feelings.  Feelings of warmth, happiness, love, fun, laughter – that’s why I still go home to my parent’s every Christmas Day for Christmas dinner because as long as I have them – I want my parent’s to feel those feelings now.  #CircleofLife  Those are the memories that I am making sure my children have – nothing lasts as long or feels as good as being happy in yourself.  So my point is…try not to stress and focus on the people instead xxx

Okay, it was never part of my blog concept that I would be talking so much about family so coming up soon… feminism, patriarchy and dealing with over-intimate bosses/workmates!  #ThisismyWorkspaceThatisyourWorkspace

Chat soon 🙂

20151129_114641 (3).jpg

 

 

 

Food Memories 1…Banana Milkshake with chocolate flakes

I was about four years and my first flavour memory is a rather simple one. My older sister Judy (who is ten years older than me) made all of us (six including herself and me) the most delicious banana milkshakes with flake crumbled on top. To this day, I remember the first sip; frothy, cold banana-cream sweetness on my lips trailed by chilled crumbs of milk chocolate. I was standing by the sink in the kitchen in our house in Raheny holding the chilled tumbler glass in both of my little hands like it was a sacred chalice. I savoured every mouthful, my heart getting heavier as my glass slowly emptied. This was an exotic texture and taste sensation – I mean, we had banana’s before of course but whizzed together with vanilla ice-cream and milk until thick, frothy and sumptuously sweet was a lip smacking eye-opener!

My Dad was, and still is, a very plain eater. If he saw an onion within 5 feet of his dinner plate, there may be picture and no sound for a week! It was potato, vegetables (as in cabbage, carrots, turnips, parsnips and little more) with meat at dinner times until I was at least 8 years old. We were one of those households where pasta and rice arrived later as we all grew older and Dad mellowed without realising what was actually happening. He still doesn’t eat onions… and don’t even mention the G word!! My first encounter with garlic is another distinct food memory I’ll share another time!! 😀 I digress… which will happen a lot with me! One of the things about food that I’m really interested in is how it becomes an integral part of our memories and how we relate to certain situations and people. I recognise now that my love of feeding people and cooking for others comes from my memories of Judy cooking special dishes and treats for us as kids and the feeling of love and care that enveloped me when she would do that. It also relates back to our family dinners in the evenings where we would all sit down together and eat while talking about whatever went on that day. Don’t be misled now – we were no Irish version of The Waltons by any stretch of the imagination!!! HaHaHaHa! There was a lot more agro than harmonious banter! But this was important for my Dad who only got to hear from us all at that point in the day – information overload!! My poor Mam, on the other hand, probably wanted to crawl into a corner and pull a blanket over her head!!! I can’t imagine dealing with six kids every day from morning until night #INSANITY #INSANITY #INSANITY  Anyhooooo, food can be so harmonious and loving and inclusive – that’s how I feel it.

Today my whole family are meeting up for dinner to celebrate with my Mum and Dad because they are married for 55 years since 26 November 2015.  55 YEARS!!!!! Holy Cannoli!!!!! :-O  That’s one hell of a ride and to be honest, I don’t know how my Mum hasn’t smothered my stubborn yolk of a Father somewhere along the way.  She’s a beautiful woman; in body, heart and soul.  And stubborn enough too, come to think of it.  I didn’t lick it off the stones, as the saying goes 😛  There are 23 of us between in-laws and grand children and I’m really looking forward to the banter and chat.  We’re only missing one, my brother Mike who lives in Canada – no doubt he’ll be skyped somewhere along the way.  Food is part of the cement that keeps us all stuck and talking to each other – alcohol, although enjoyable, is way way way too much trouble! 😉  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂