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A different kind of Christmas


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

Despite being only four weeks old, our little Frankie was a busy girl at Christmas. After a visit to Santa and receiving her first Selection Box, which Mammy and Daddy were only too happy with, she went and did her own shopping. She got her mother a lovely personalised Christmas mug with her own little mug on it and picked out Paul O’Connell’s autobiography for Daddy.
How she knew it was exactly the book I was looking for I’ll never know.
Her arrival, of course, was the best Christmas present of all for us, but on Christmas Day she gave us another present we were not expecting.
We went to Aisling’s sister’s just down the road for Christmas dinner and we’d prepared to take turns eating the dinner whilst the other tended to Frankie. Christmas dinner is one of my favourite parts of the whole Christmas, but I was resigned to the fact this was going to be different and altogether less relaxing.
So we arrived at 2pm, and after the short journey in the car, Frankie was asleep on arrival.
However, with eight adults, three teenagers and three other children in the house, we were not holding out much hope for the sleep lasting too much longer. Just imagine, if you can, the noise that three girls aged ten, eight and five can make a few hours after being visited by Santa and you will have an idea of the volume.
Frankie did wake up alright, but, incredibly, not until a little after 6pm. She slept through the starter, the turkey and ham, the after-dinner drinks and chat, and even the dessert.
Maybe she was worn out from all her shopping. It’s a long trip from Achill to Westport on your own to do the Christmas shopping when you’re less than a month old after all.
We were back down there for a New Year’s Eve dinner the following week and, again, Frankie slept right through it all. Everyone there thought we had a dream baby.
And she is. Most of the time.
On New Year’s Day we were able to show a different side to her. All eleven of the grandchildren in Aisling’s family were in Achill that day, so a picture of the lot was in order.
Well rested, Frankie was wide awake … and when the din started, she was more than happy to add to it, showing off her own impressive set of lungs. It was a much shorter visit that day!
Ringing in the New Year was done back at base. It was the first time I wasn’t out for New Year’s since 1998. Our group made a thing for years of going away for New Year’s. From humble beginnings – Ballyvary – we spread our wings taking in Killarney, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool and even Sydney. Weddings have been the location for three of the last four New Year’s Eves, but this year was altogether more sedate. The three of us at home watching RTÉ 1.
Next year, Frankie can get me a pair of slippers and pyjamas to complete the transformation.

In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  chart the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.