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Alleluia for Christmas

Off the fence
Alleluia for Christmas! Here’s to 2013

Áine Ryan

IF you are reading The Mayo News today (December 27) it is possible that you resemble a beached whale. Or to put a seasonal flavour on it, one of Santa Claus’s more rotund little helpers. Bet you still have those brand new fluffy pyjamas on and are prostrate on the couch. 
Well, that is where I am.  Hot port in one hand, and the Christmas edition of the RTE Guide in the other. Alleluia for Christmas, that is all I can say. Could we really have withstood another day of Grinch Reaper scrooge-filled doom and gloom. Who in their right minds would want to be a politician? Particularly at present, when the daily dirge is recession and depression, austerity measures and cutbacks.
Shame the wonderful reality of the world has been constricted into planet economy where the robotic inhabitants check their bank balances every hour, forage in the discount supermarket for the best bargains and turn off their radios for fear there will be more bad news.
In so many ways it is bizarre. I mean, in the greater scheme of things, we are still relatively rich here in Ireland. I know, I know, there are very vulnerable and peripheral people out there, some of whom are abandoned and homeless, some of whom are living each week from hand-to-mouth. Clearly, I know also what it is like to worry about the next electricity bill, the price of the next fill of oil, the spare cash for that forgotten present.
But we are not living in the shanty towns of Karachi or Cape Town. Neither are we living in war-torn Syria where for almost two years president Bashar al-Assad has repressed the populist ‘Arab Spring’ movement for democratic rights by its people. And neither are we living in a country – the Ireland of our forefathers – where dependence on the potato meant that half the population was decimated by repeated famine. Nor are we living in the onetime ghettoes of Dublin where just a century ago large malnourished and disease-ridden families lived in one-room tenements with no proper sanitation.         
Christmas gives us a chance to stand back from our busy, stressful lives and count our blessings. This ancient festival of renewal and rebirth affords us the opportunity to count our many blessings. To reignite our sense of wonderment; to reawaken innate abilities to be joyful; to rekindle the infectiousness of laughter; to live life to the full.
Of all the poetry written about this season, for me Patrick Kavanagh captures its metaphysical magic in ‘A Christmas Childhood’.
“One side of the potato-pits was white with frost/ How wonderful that was, how wonderful!/ And when we put our ears to the paling post/ The music that came out was magical.”
Ho! Ho! Ho!

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