I spent the weekend ferrying my son Jerry up and down to Clonmel, where he was packing bags in Tesco for his charity drive. You can check out his progress here, http://www.mycharity.ie/event/raiseforcalcutta/ and he also has a blog on wordpress to track his fundraising and the trip to Calcutta. If you are feeling all Christmassy and want to give him something you can donate as little as €2 on the website, and genuinely, all donations are very much appreciated. OK, begging bowl away….
For those of you who don’t live in Ireland, the 8th of December is THE shopping day for Christmas. In the Catholic Calendar it is the feast of the immaculate conception. According to the church authorities in the middle ages, it was not enough that Jesus was born of an immaculate conception. The vessel of his birth, the womb of the Virgin Mary, had to be as pure as driven snow, so she was also accorded an immaculate conception. What this means for children in Ireland is……a day off school.
So traditionally Mammy packed the kids down to the drapery and fitted them out with new duds for Christmas on the 8th. The tree arrived in the house, the lights went up and everything started to feel a lot like Christmas.
In the city the relevance of the 8th has declined, but down here in rural Tipperary it remains the big day heralding the Christmas season. If you don’t buy your tree on the 8th you will be left with one of the lame, the asymmetrical, the mangy, the bald, the withered or the stunted specimens rejected by the early bird buyers.
And so it is that I was climing the ladder first thing this morning to festoon the front of the house with lights. The tree is up and dressed, the star is attached, the ultimate christmas album is in the CD player.
So it feels like a night for Frost. That would be Robert Frost rather than Jack Frost
Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.