Dear Everyone at Home and Coming Home on Christmas Eve
Thank you very much for the Christmas Cards and the Packages. I am hiding the packages in my Housemate’s room until Christmas morning, just like you asked, and the cards I am opening, “with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye”.
I promise you all, I am keeping warm, thank you for the many reminders. Genuinely, there is no need. It is always cold enough that if I were to step outside without the proper attire, I will immediately run back inside.-17 will do that. You often ask what I actually wear. Well, for skiing, it is warm sports leggings, ski socks, thermal long sleeved t-shirt and a ski jacket and trousers with hat and gloves. I will invest in a face warmer shortly. Walking about, to work say, I wear thermal leggings or tights usually and either my thermal t-shirt and long grey jacket or my utterly fantastic ski jacket that has a warmth of 15,000 somethings. Most are only 10,000 somethings. Add in a pair of black boots or hiking boots and the usual hat/scarf/gloves combo and I am all set.
I still eat porridge for breakfast or eggs on particularly hungry mornings. Dinner is usually pasta, I don’t really cook here, I’m not sure why, and lunch is soup and bread or salad.
For Christmas Day, a hardy but dedicated team will be helping me cook a traditional Christmas. We will have turkey and stuffing but our carrots are to be coated in butter and our broccoli in cheese. Also, there are to be 4 different types of potato. They say it is because I am Irish, but it is because we all want our own kind: candied yams (sweet potato grilled with brown sugar and butter), mashed potato (my choice), roast potatoes and potatoes that are to be cooked in cream. There has been no request for Brussel Sprouts and that is fine by me.
My housemate and I, and whoever else wants to, are going to Christmas Eve Mass at 7pm. It is a little early as the store closes at 6.30, but we will just walk straight there and see them getting set up and see who is doing what. The choir there are usually very good, and get this people, the congregation sings along, even I give it a go! I always sit behind an older couple, he is very tall, she is shorter than I am, and now they seem to nod in familiarity at me when it comes to shaking hands. Shaking hands is very big here, they love it, no fear of catching germs whatever the weather. Sometimes people hold hands during the Our Father, which I find quite touching, pardon the pun.
I really appreciate your letters and pictures from my nieces and photos of my nephews and the Christmas Tree and e-mails from Santa. It is not selfish to talk about yourself in letters. That’s what letters are about. So keep them coming, I do like the knowledge/ insight into the little details of your life, just like when we sit around eating breakfast on Sunday mornings.
Yes, Mum, I am still in love with Banff. It is like living in Ards Forest Park and you know how I loved it there. Well this place has snow too, and deers everywhere and you know, a village inside it. I promise though, I do love you more, and I will come home.
Who knows what the future will bring: I never imagined last Christmas that I would be e-mailing you all from staff accommodation in a winter wonderland thousands of miles away.
We’ve had a good year folks, remember to thank God for that. Just like we used to wash and dress all our dolls for Santa to see how well we cared for our gifts, we should take out all the gifts we were Blessed with this year and say thank you to God for them. 3 graduations, starting school, learning to walk, learning to say my name, growing and thriving, finding jobs, travelling and planning to travel, losing weight, working, praying, making it onto BBC, going back to work, staying healthy and happy…..
I hear it will be Christmas Eve when those away will arrive home. No doubt the fire will be roaring in the range and dinner will be ready and Mum and Dad will be delighted to see you all. I hope the usual O Holy Night is sung at Mass, and no doubt the usual drinks will be had after. I will Skype you all on Christmas morning, your time. My lovely nephew will have you all awake early.
In the wise words of my sister, even if there are tears in your eyes, let there be smiles on your faces. We are all well, we are all happy, and despite the miles, we are all together.
Love, now and always