Nollaig Shona Duit

Nollaig Shona Duit

I wrote this blog some years ago when I first started blogging.  I enjoyed sharing my story with my followers, so it is only appropriate that I roll it out again.  After all it is DECEMBER and we can officially talk about CHRISTMAS.  I hope you enjoy my story about my traditions at Christmas.

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Yes, it’s that time of year.  I love it.  Once December comes most of the DJ’s on the radio stations start playing  the old Christmas favorites like Fairy Tale in New York, Driving home for Christmas and such like.  My granddaughters asked for Christmas FM to be put on in the car the other day and had a sing along.   Once I hear these songs, it’s official – Christmas has begun.  Sometimes I get out my Christmas CD’s and put them on repeat.  The tune ‘Walking in the air’ from the ‘Snowman’  send chills down my back every time I hear it.

christmas-snowmen

Preparations are under way; the ingredients are bought for the pudding and the cake.  There is something nostalgic about mixing the pudding and before putting it into the bowls to steam, THE WISH.  Yes, I can still remember as a kid this tradition and the smell of the pudding mix and the all important WISH.  Three stirs with the wooden spoon and if you were the last to stir, you got to lick the spoon …yum.   And the smell of the ham cooking on Christmas Eve is a lovely comforting smell in a way.  When it is done you just have to have a small taste with a slice of fresh bread.  There is nothing nicer than coming down the stairs as a kid on Christmas morning and the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven. 

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Christmas is all about seeing. smelling, tasting, listening and touch.  All the senses are given a treat this month.  Another memory as a kid was coming back from a visit to the grandparents or a shopping trip in early December and wishing to be the one to spot the first house with the Christmas tree up.  It would be just getting dark and the curtains in the front room ‘the good room’ would still be open to show off the tree all lit up.   

Christmas shopping has started,  the party season has begun, and the tree will be put up soon.  I enjoy trimming the tree.  I always put on Christmas music and then walk to the local shops to pick out a real tree.  I love the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house.  For years when the kids were small we would all go and carry it back together, now they are making their own memories with their families.  

christmas-tree-and-pressies

My favorite part of Christmas is just before midnight on Christmas Eve, having finished preparations for the big day ahead when I sit down with carols playing softly in the background, only the tree lights are on, a glass of wine, my ham sandwich and the smell of cooking in the air.  If you could bottle this and sell it, the magic of Christmas could be with you whenever you need it.

There has been a change in the Christmas morning traditions over the years as I left the family home and started my own family of three children.  Some of the traditions are consistent such as meeting up with my siblings and their families after Mass at my parents home to exchange gifts, have a few nibbles and wish each other well.  The grandchildren have increased over the years and they all love to throw the gift wrapping paper in a pile in the middle of the room as soon as they receive a gift.  Now there are great-grandchildren enjoying the fun.  The pile gets higher and higher and when all the presents have been given among the family all the kids jump into the paper for a photo.  There have been some great ones over the years, some very young babies lying among Christmas wrapping paper with their cousins.  Before the clean up, there is the Christmas kiss under the tree.  Nanny and Granddad, now Great Nanny and Great Granddad also kissed a long time ago one Christmas morning and this has been the case ever since.  Another photo for the memories.  Everyone goes their own way after that with some of the family staying for dinner with my parents.

turkey

It does not matter who goes to dinner on Christmas day.  We have taken turns over the years; I was the lucky one for a number of years as my children were the first grandchildren, my siblings now take it in turns to join Mam and Dad at their dinner table.  On St. Stephens Day we all, yes all of us again to back to our parent’s house late in the afternoon.  This is considered the highlight of the Christmas by all of the grandchildren and now great-grandchildren look forward to it also.  We all tuck into a great feast on tables that are joined together so nobody is left out.  Stories are told, jokes are shared and then when dessert is finished the younger children put on their show.  They have been practicing for the week before and it is lovely to see.  The old sing-song follows after that and we all do a turn.  It gets way past the young children’s bedtime and soon everyone must go to their own homes.

Memories are made at this time of year and even those as young as 5,6, 7 and 8 are beginning to recognize family traditions at Christmas time.  This Christmas morning will be a quiet one when we wake up as  no one else will be running down the stairs to see what is under the tree for them except just the two of us.  Another stage in life and a new memory and a new tradition will be born no doubt.  This is a special time for family and may there be many many more to come.

nollaig

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JANUARY BLUES

JANUARY BLUES

January,  the month of new resolutions, new starts, new promises, new, new, new.

Christmas has come and gone for another year.  All the partying is over. A busy couple of weeks from the 8th December when the city centre is crowded with shoppers to the 6th January when little Christmas is celebrated.   Over the past 6 years, I have celebrated the 6th January with my girlfriends in  recognition of Nollaig na mBna.  This is when the menfolk look after the house and the family so that  the women can have a party among themselves.  The excuse was to use up all the left over pudding and cake and drink.  It was traditionally celebrated in the country more so that in the big smoke.  We thought it was a good idea to start our own Nollaig na mBna in my house and it has been great so far.  There isn’t a better way to start off the month of January than having a group of female friends over for a bite to eat, a drink or two and a good old chat.

The Christmas decorations are put away and the place looks bare.  It takes a while to get used to normality again in the house.  Great plans are made for the weeks and months ahead.  The weather is cold and damp but there is an expectancy in the air.  2017 here we come.  January is a great month to start something new, to give it a go, even if you tried the same thing last January and failed.  I love to see all the walkers out in force, determined to lose those pounds that stuck to them while they enjoyed the festive season.  It is like an army on the move.  The supermarkets are full of people buying healthy options and lots and lots of fruit and veg.  Spirits are high, recipes are swapped and we get through these first few weeks that can sometimes be tough on us.   Those who are lucky enough can escape to sunnier climates for a few weeks to get over the hurdle and into the spring.  The rest of us scan the travel websites, or look through the glossy brochures planning the holiday in the sun in 5 or 6 months time.

happy-new-year-sparkles

January can be as good as you make it.  Enjoy the newness of it and make it count.

parade-healthy-new-years-resolutions

HSE may extend ‘home from home’ for elderly

HSE may extend ‘home from home’ for elderly

I was browsing the internet and came across this article. Very interesting and is already in operation in some towns in Ireland.

By Claire O’Sullivan  of the Irish Examiner Reporter on Monday, November 14, 2016

The expansion of a little- known scheme where families are paid to take in elderly people so they can live their lives in a ‘home away from home’ is being considered by the HSE.

The scheme ‘can be of great benefit to the host family and the older person’, said Mervyn Taylor of Sage.

Under the existing ‘boarding out’ scheme, the HSE pays the homeowner an amount of not more than half the weekly rate of the State pension. In addition, the older person pays an additional sum agreed with the HSE and the house owner.

The scheme operates in Donegal, Mayo, Longford/Westmeath, Louth, and Meath and approximately 50 older people avail of it every year. Last year, up to 15 households took part in the scheme at a cost of €320,000.

The householder must “provide suitable and sufficient care, nutritious and varied food, and adequate attendance, having regard to the needs of the person”.

Under its 2016 service plan, the HSE has set up a working group to review the scheme and make recommendations “on the potential for developing and extending the scheme nationally as an additional option of care services for older people”.

The working group will look at international best practice in the area and look at identifying a best model of care for an expanded service.

Mervyn Taylor, manager of Sage, the support and advocacy service for older people, said the ‘home from home’ scheme offers “choice and flexibility and has very many positives for older people and for families”.

“We need a wider range of options for older people and this is one innovative scheme that already exists and should be nurtured,” said Mr Taylor.

“It’s an option that keeps elderly people who do not have a high level of care needs in the community. Once it has light, but sensitive oversight, it can be of great benefit to the family and the older person.”

The working group will also review the 1993 boarding out regulations, identify the scope to expand the scheme to other Community Health Organisation areas, identify the requirements and costs of an expanded scheme.

It is anticipated that the working group will submit its recommendations to the HSE Head of Operations & Service Improvement Services for Older People before end of the year.