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I know this is after the new year began, but it’s still January, and the Christmas season is very recent. I think I’m like my dad, Tom. He used to love Christmas. In fact, we often had a hard time persuading him to let us take the tree down.

My favourite part of Christmas is Christmas Day and the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day because most people are relaxing. I feel this time is most important since the invention of the computer and the internet because, at any other time of year, people want immediate responses to emails. But, during the Christmas season, for most of us (at least in the western world), a blanket of peace falls over houses and the families within them. I thought I might use this opportunity to share of few memories of Christmases past. It would be, if you like, a belated Christmas card to you all.

The first Christmas I remember was in 1976 with snow drifts going all the way up to the window sills. I did not know what the white stuff was but it looked magical. At that time I couldn’t really speak, having only a few words because of hydrocephalus (water in the brain) which was yet to be diagnosed. My mother Pat broke the silence, “This is for you,” she said, as she handed me a doll that was the same size as me—if not a little taller. For the next five or six years that doll was to be my favourite doll. After my shunt operation to treat the water on the brain, a whole new world opened to me. 1976 was my first Christmas in America. Mark, my brother, and Bonnie, my sister, said that it was one of the best Christmases, if not the best ever, because they got most if not all they wanted.

In 1979 we moved to Ireland to live there permanently and some of my best Christmas memories took place in Ireland even though we didn’t have are extended family to celebrate with us.

The major event of Christmas in Dublin was to go see the Christmas lights in the city centre. There was one major department store which had a different display window every Christmas. I especially remember seeing this when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I went to a special school, the Central Remedial Clinic, and every Christmas the shop with the changing display window would open its big toy department to children from special schools and under-privileged children children to see all the toys and to meet Santa.

It was great because normally the shop was very busy, especially around Christmas. Sadly, when the shop was taken over by another company, the magical Christmas display ended after one year.

During my primary school years at the C.R.C we did not have much money but my family in the USA always sent us Christmas money gifts which enabled mom and dad to buy gifts and help out with Christmas generally. The great thing about mom and dad was that the gifts we got were practical and educational.

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