Christmas Day, Friday, 25 December 2009
I am writing this journal entry at 22.00 on St. Stephen’s Day and from memory alone. I wrote no notes last night because Aisling, Rosanna and I sat in the livingroom until midnight and swapped some home truths about the Joyce family; Aisling’s predicament; mental illness; Paul’s seamy, clichéd tactics (he discussed Aisling earlier with her mother on the phone); Fernando; etc. I pointed out that while Rosanna overvalued Sean Og and Eamonn she undervalued Aisling and shifted blame and guilt on to her. "Aisling has a problem," Rosanna is inclined to chorus along with Paul. Aisling is depressed and that is the cause of her anger, Professor Rosanna diagnosed. Aisling had slammed doors when Rosanna was on the phone with Paul and the bottom right hand pane in the WEL connecting door cracked under the strain.
Anyway I slept well last night and rose at 7.55 in the dark on a very cold frosty morning. Ate corn flakes and milk and turned on the heat. Then I washed (my face only) and dressed. Underclothes, Le Coq Sportif white T-shirt, cream long-sleeved poplin shirt, red gansy that Leah gave me a few Christmases ago, black 44" slacks, black FootJoy golf socks, tan John Evan boots. Cleaned out and lit the livingroom fire. Wore my navy long Bugati overcoat to mass and my black woolly Greenore cap on my noggin. Carried in my pocket the small bottle of Bailey’s for Ann Murphy. Walked over in the cold crisp frost leaving the house at 8.55. Chapel deserted and securely locked. Walked round the church and had a chat with John Finnegan on the other side. Despite my Thinsulate gloves the cold was creeping in to my little fingers. Walked round the front again and Vera Rice pulled up. She had not seen Eva either. So I went down to Bellurgan with her in her car and we tried rapping the door and the windows of Eva’s cabin. Eventually I got my head slightly in the window of her bedroom. The bed was empty and neatly dressed. So I thought something might have happened Eva last night.
Vera walked ahead of me into the open church. "She’s here in the vestry!" Vera called back to me. Most of the choir was in place already by this time but my usual space inside Sean Caraher was open. I walked around to Ann Murphy and stood beside her. "Have you a bag, Anne?" I asked. She did not react so I repeated the question. Then she turned around and reached for a bag from under the seat at the wall behind her. "That’s the bag I keep the sheets in," she remarked. I slipped the bottle of Bailey’s in to the bag and circled away to my seat. Someone saw what I did and there was a little kee-hoe.
The children sang a few hymns before mass but the adult choir was not called in to action as it usually has been on other Christmases.
· Adeste Fideles
· Silent Night
· When We Eat This Bread and Drink This Cup
· O Holy Night. Mary’s Boy-Child
· Joy to the World
The singing was quite adequate. My teeth almost projected out of my mouth on the first chorus in Mary’s Boy Child which the men alone sang. This was the only real bad faux-pas throughout. O Holy Night was lively and true. I came in fast at the start of the chorus each time so things did not lag. There was a children’s pageant during mass and Christine sang When A Child Is Born from the centre of the church up near the altar. The choir hummed but I did not join in. I thought it was a bit obtrusive. I think the church was not as full as last year. There was a good deal of noise with children crying. I was not as keyed up as usual and but for one mistake and a little unsteady high note in Silent Night I thought I did well. Fr. Padraig Murphy celebrated and he preached a longish sermon which no-one was listening to. He termed the nativity "a shabby scene" i.e. if one interpreted his remarks in a certain way. A brand new crib – built I think by Frankie Duffy’s son – dead centre at the front wall of the church. I gave €10 in a buff envelope marked "My Gift to the Priests" taken from the weekly envelope box.
I relaxed beside the fire and tried to forget the humiliation of the incident with my teeth. Teresa B rang from work in quite good form. Teddy rang, too. Gerardine was working. He told me Claire went in to hospital last night. He seemed to think matters more serious than the impression Teresa B conveyed to me. I tried to ring Jimmy’s house at least once later in the day but did not get through. Aisling rang around 13.00 and said she would be here in less than an hour. I took the call and told her I was delighted but went ahead and ate my dinner alone in the livingroom. Rosanna waited to have hers with Aisling. Soup; turkey, ham, gravy, mash, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. I used a lot of cranberry sauce but I could get very little taste off the turkey which I thought was dry and a little stringy. Anyway I had eaten after mass while Rosanna was at 11.30 mass in Ravensdale the remainder of yesterday’s round roast with salt and I followed it down with a little Gorgonzola. Piled the remainder of the brandy whipped cream on a bowl of trifle. Shortly before dark Rosanna drove to Greenore. I brought the packet of 6 oranges I bought yesterday in Tesco. I cut it open with the Spanish scissors before we left Jenkinstown. I ate a Lindt chocolate sweet in Greenore and a Magnum icecream on a stick. Also peeled and ate one of my own oranges. Rosanna drank Baileys. Lisa gave me two framed pictures, one a photo of Gavin, another a traced drawing by Gavin of his own hands and fingers. She also gave me a navy Regatta fleece. I noticed there were no animals with the crib on the table in the hall. It looked elegant but spare. I felt Veritas had ripped me off when I bought it and wondered if it was worth my while to ring them. Text after I got home from Lisa thanking me for the socks I sent down with Rosanna yesterday. I replied concluding, "Love and regards." Rang Og a little later and told him Brian Farrell who rang me this morning had told me to wish him a happy Christmas. I rang Anne from the sittingroom in Greenore. She and Patrick were looking at my picture gallery on a new lap-top I think. I think I ate another bowl of trifle and whipped cream when we came home from Greenore. I think Aisling gained a little courage and insight from my conversation tonight and I felt a degree of self-satisfaction. Rosanna was livid. She threatened to leave. Then she went out and banged doors and brought the new Rossa putter I had given her for Christmas complete with red and yellow head cover in from the boot of her car to the livingroom and returned it ostentatiously to me. She threatened to fling it in to my room and maybe she was going to do that but she crashed painfully into a heavy diningroom chair in the dark in the hallway on her way to bed. I did not enquire if she was all right. In fact I did not open my mouth. It was warm in the bed – much milder than last night – and overstimulated I did not get to sleep until the wee small hours. I washed my teeth before I went to bed. I did no exercise today. Felt a little overweight, stiff and out of condition. Lisa got a new coffee making machine for Christmas and she showed it to me before we left Greenore this evening. Took no siesta today. Sent an e-mail to Joe Crudden before lunch today.