I'M SPENDING SOME DOWN TIME regretting that Ruth and I didn't save Christmas cards from the six different homes we've had through the 22 Christmas holidays we've shared. Instead, I scrolled back through Flickr to find images from Christmases past, starting with a candle flickering in our home in Kilkenny from 2004. I need to find snaps I think I've saved inside traditional photo albums buried in our attic.
It's Manta Claus forom Yahoo Photos on 22 Dec 05: A South African diver sporting a Santa Claus outfit feeds fish at Africa's largest marine theme park the UShaka Marine World in Durban. (AFP/Rajesh Jantilal). We had just moved into our new home in Cashel, County Tipperary.
Our first Christmas candle of 2006. It's been years since we bought new Christmas ornaments for the house, mainly because we've moved into smaller homes and there's less space to decorate. But we have outdoor space now and if you check back on my blog next year, you'll see interesting illuminated spaces.
Christmas in our bay window of Caiseal na Ri in 2007. I miss our large bay window and wonder if we can set up a balcony in our new home. If you click the images, you can explore a time capsule of shots taken just before or after each of these photos. I've done that and can see from old photos that I had much more discretionary income before the Irish economy crashed in 2010.
The Cashel Town Plaza turns blue every Christmas like it did for us in 2008. During COVID, the plaza is an outdoor dining area.
I remember buying these holly sprigs from George Francis in 2009 because the vendor's name is the same as my father's. When I decorated places with a Christmas theme alongside my dad and grandfather, we used fresh cut holly. This shot, with its soft focus, showcases the power of the Satio phone.
Christmas candles are the most-viewed Christmas images I have shared on Flickr. We haven't purchased large Christmas candles in the 10 years from when I snapped these two flickering in Cashel. I think these candles mark the last time I bought a new phone every year.
My Kindle delivered a story of the best Christmas letter I've seen written in Ireland. It's 100 years old this year, written by Hannah “Annie” Howard, to Santa.
From the Irish Times:
"The slightly scorched missive, dating from Christmas Eve 1911, when Hannah was 10 years old, was discovered up a chimney in a house in Terenure, Dublin.
"Sitting at home in Bangor, Co Down, while his wife read out details of the story, Mr Bartlem initially failed to make any connection between himself and the young girl in the story. Even when the address on the letter – Oaklands Terrace, Terenure – was mentioned, he put it down to coincidence.
"It was only when he heard the name Hannah that he realised the girl in the letter was his mother.
"His mother’s carefully crafted Christmas wishlist, topped with a good luck message for Santa, was discovered in the chimney by the house’s current occupant, John Byrne, when he was installing central heating in 1992. He kept the letter as a memento of times past, deciding only to publicise its existence this year to mark its 100th anniversary.
"In her letter, Hannah, like many 10-year-olds, is quite explicit about what she wants from Santa."
She wrote, "I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.” Because the letter was signed “A or H Howard”, it was initially thought to be jointly from Hannah and her younger brother, Alfred
. But as the Irish Times discovered, "Hannah went by the name 'Annie', hence the 'A or H Howard' on the letter, a clever insurance policy in case Santa got confused.
"Hannah was born on Christmas Day 1900. The excitement of having her birthday on the same day as Santa’s arrival must have been considerable. "Mr Bartlem said his mother attended the Zion Church of Ireland school in Rathgar before going on to marry Alfred Bartlem in 1931, with whom she had two sons, Howard and Victor. She and Alfred moved to a house on Lomond Avenue, Fairview, shortly after they married, where she died in 1978.
"Mr Bartlem said his mother had been extremely creative, excelling at various forms of needlework and later at woodwork. She was also an expert baker of cakes and other confectionery, which may go some way to explaining her toffee-themed letter to Mr Claus.
"Hannah’s niece, Iris Murphy, who lives in Stillorgan, Dublin, was also alerted to the letter’s existence only yesterday, when her daughter in Tasmania read about it on irishtimes.com.
Mia (5) using the Xoom tablet to view every Disney movie ever released. The Xoom tablet was light enough for one year old Dylan.
Mia (6) writing her Christmas cards in 2013. As a junior infant, Mia used to page through my art books.
Christmas selfie with Mia (7) and Dylan (3) taken during the height of Frozen.
On the steps of St Mary's altar after the Mass when Mia (8) carried the Jesus up the aisle during Mass.
We drove 200 km in the rain from County Tipperary to County Louth on Christmas Dat 2016 without windscreen wipers. Mia (9) cleared the rain by pulling a yellow strap we attached to the broken wiper motor assembly.
One of the last things we do every December is ride the train to Waterford and to Limerick to see the Christmas lights.
Christmas lights in Clonmel have become more enchanting year after year. These blue lights illuminated Mitchell Street in December 2018.
With Mia (12) before we took down the Christmas tree.
Season's Greetings to you and yours from Dylan (9) and Mia (13) in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.
[See 100 images of Christmas in one of Bernie Goldbach's albums on Flickr.]