What a difference a generation can make on Christmas experiences. My mother’s memories of Christmas in Ireland from the end of WW2 up to the end of the ‘50s are quite different from mine growing up in Canada.
My mother’s family were what you might call the poor gentry—folks who knew about the finer graces of life, but didn’t have the finances to live them. There was no such thing as a Christmas tree in my grandparents’ farmhouse in Country Tyrone or later in their narrow, red-brick row-house in Belfast.
Nor did my mother or her siblings receive gifts when they were children. Only once, at a church Christmas Sunday School program, did my mother receive a small package of short, colored pencils. She never forgot the extravagance of that wonderful present.
Unlike my Christmas today which lasts an entire month of celebration--and which my mother is my right hand in preparations--my mother's childhood Christmas was one day, and most often included church.
The carol singing and the church dressed up with fresh holly painted memories for her, the gray ancient stones of the church, the dark green of the holly leaf, and the vibrant red of its berry. And coming outside the church she could look around at the Irish hills, dusted with a trace of snow, that resembled the sprinkling of icing sugar on a suet pudding.
Unlike a Dickensian Christmas, my mother’s poor family couldn’t afford plums. They made their puddings from suet, berries, and spices. I’ve tasted my grandmother’s recipe for suet pudding, and it’s so good it puts the plum pudding of fairytales to shame.
A goose was served instead of turkey. Or in the very early days after the war, my grandfather might shoot a rabbit and my grandmother would serve that for Christmas dinner. Cranberry is an American tradition, so my mother grew up having applesauce to compliment her portion of goose, along with roast potatoes and vegetables.
Later when my mother became a young adult, the family would polish off Christmas dinner with a glass of Sandyman’s Port in the front parlor.
My mother’s family may not have been rich, but they did the best they could to honor the day our Savior was born.
These days I have so much more than my mother. But the things that matter most to me are the same things my mother experienced—going to church, being together with family, friends, and loved ones, having a good meal in warmth and laughter. Rejoicing in the day our Savior came to this world.
The wealth of my mother's memories often go into my writing. Much of our Irish experience is found in my upcoming book Londonderry Dreaming due to be released February 2014.
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas.
About the Author:
Christine Lindsay is an Irish-born writer, proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that great ship.
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Here is a free excerpt from Christine's latest release, a short Christmas story. Excerpt from Heavenly Haven.
Available in full as an Ebook for only 99 cents.
It was stories of Christine's ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India that inspired her historical series Twilight of the British Raj of which Book 1 Shadowed in Silk has won several awards. Next is Book 2 Captured by Moonlight. Christine is currently writing the final installment of that series called Veiled at Midnight to be released August 2014.
Christine makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family.
Please drop by Christine’s website www.christinelindsay.com or her blog http://www.christinelindsay.org