Well, isn’t it a great feeling to see the Valentine’s Day cards appearing and the Cadbury’s Crème Eggs are in store and ready to make their annual appearance on the supermarket’s shelves on Christmas Eve.
I was downtown Gorey doing Christmas shopping and joining the frenzied hordes grappling for turkeys and veggies.
We went into our supermarket to browse and shop. There were two shoppers immediately ahead of us as we started. They got quite agitated when they saw that the mushy peas and some other absolutely must have grocery item have temporarily gone from the shelf. Christmas will not be the same without them. A minor panic attack ensues until they find someone who assures them that plenty more of them are in the storeroom. A sigh of relief follows and off they jaunt happily looking for Apricot jam to paste on the almond icing on the cake but alas they only had the sugar free version left which they were not going to use. They had another stress moment. I learn something new every year in my lifelong learning curve.
I picked up the sugar free marmalade as I had been requested and left my problem shoppers behind me.
I witnessed a lady taking 10×4 packs of cooking apples and was asking for more as she wanted to make apple crumble for the family. She was going to be busy, but she was such a sweet lady.
Two more ladies were giving out gusto because they couldn’t find Colman’s English mustard, they were not going to have ham sandwiches with that Dijon stuff.
Another man was looking for sides of salmon and just could not understand why there was not a supply ready for him. A very nice shop assistant politely told him that there would be lots more in the morning, but his indignation knew no bounds and off he stormed in a major huff. He was such a fishy character.
There is another great event that happens at this time of year. It’s the annual voyage of retail discovery for many husbands who are brought along to push the trolley for the big Christmas shop. They are easily recognisable as they shuffle along self-consciously with a tight death like grip on the trolley’s handle. Occasionally they stop and might handle a pan loaf and gingerly place it in the trolley. That’s about the most daring thing they will do on their annual shopping adventure.
Some people seem to lose the run of themselves at this time of year buying to excess. There is lots of fancy cheese being bought to eat with teeth breaking crackers and ensuring a visit to a dentist and causing a major rise in cholesterol levels.
There is enough chocolate being bought to drive the blood sugar levels off the Richter scale and ensure that every child will be hyperactive for the festive season.
The wine lake will be diminished severely and the livers of many will be tested to the maximum when the extraordinary number of bottles of wine and spirits sold are consumed.
There won’t be a bird left in the country with all the chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese being consumed for the Christmas dinner.
And the poor old porkies are served up too with many full Irish breakfasts and then we have ham for dinner and the ham sandwiches in the evening with the YR sauce and mustard but as the song goes ‘It’s the season to be jolly’.
In homes around the country with little children waiting for Santa, parents are at their wits ends trying to find new misdemeanours for those nasty elves. Christmas can’t come quickly enough until the red pests are banished into exile in the attic for another 12 months. The toilet rolls will no longer be rolled downstairs. The elves are now serving a short prison sentence behind bars in the elf prison in many houses for being so bold during the run up to Christmas.
Santa will still come and bring all the presents that were requested. Children and the child within us all will be happy and play with the new toys.
People will party and have a good time and then Christmas 2022 will be over before we know it
The sale signs will be screened on our television screens on Christmas Day and somehow the frenzied shopping reaches a new level of anxiety and stress as people queue and vie with each other to be first in line for a fleece lined dry robe so that they can be best dressed for the New Year’s Day swim.
But sure, life is for living and enjoyment. We must all enjoy our own Christmas as best we can depending on our own individual circumstances.
While the tills jingle, and the presents, hampers, vouchers, and groceries will flood out the doors of stores it is also timely to stop and do a reality check.
If you are fortunate enough to be healthy and happy at this festive time of year, think about those who will be queuing up for food parcels or those among us who may not have the financial wherewithal to buy a Christmas present or dinner.
We think of those who have loved ones who are ill at home or in hospital and those families who have lost a cherished loved one since last Christmas and there will be an empty chair in the house.
Yes, Christmas is the season to be jolly but it also a time to stop, think, reflect, and look around us and share our wealth and time with others because it is in giving that we receive and feel better in ourselves.
Have a lovely Christmas and may the incoming New Year of 2023 be a good one for everyone.
Le gach dea-ghuí I gcomhair na Nollag agus na hAthbhliana
Mick O Callaghan
Gorey, Wexford, Ireland
How to get to Gorey