The cottage was rather cozy that Christmas morning after the O’Connell family came back from walking to midnight Mass. The candle guiding the holy family had been placed in the window earlier and the milk and bread was set out on the kitchen table near a larger lit candle as tradition dictated. Once their three children were sent upstairs to sleep, Doro and Patrick set about readying the cottage for Father Christmas. Doro put the turkey in the oven and then the deserts, including the Christmas pudding, while Pat took a small nap in the living room. He went out when it was daybreak to fetch some peat blocks for the fireplace, the musky woody darkness still clinging to his shoes as he came into the living room. From the nearby kitchen, the rich spiciness of cinnamon and apple reached Pat as he was lighting the fire, Doro’s pie was almost ready to cool now. Pat couldn’t wait for the moist goodness to reach his tongue!
The week before had been busy and hectic and now the little family was looking forward to a quiet Christmas with only Doro’s brother Daniel and his young family coming to visit. Her older brother Connor and his family would be spending Christmas with his wife Peggy’s family in England this year. Their gifts of homemade sweets and special toys were in each child’s stocking after Pat worked the fire into a crackling roar and Father Christmas’s two gifts placed under the tree. It looked to be the beginning of a lovely Christmas.
In lieu of working outside the home this year, Doro had done paintings and sold them at Peggy’s shop in Dublin, on top of the ones she made as early gifts to everyone. That did bring in a nice amount of money, but most of it after taxes went to bills since Pat’s construction work cut his workdays yet again. Their car was also in the shop and was due to be picked up the day after Christmas, so that was more money spent. Despite all this, they did get their traditional two gifts apiece for everyone, and a big fat turkey this time. Doro wanted a fine dinner with all the trimmings to welcome Daniel and his young family. After an engagement of four years, he had married Bridget in March and they decided to try for a baby. So along came Aidan Patrick, two weeks earlier, and the newest little treasure had made off with a handmade cradle from his uncle Patrick and a hand knitted blanket from auntie Doro. Now, the cottage was quite still, with only the quiet murmurs of two parents scurrying about and the deep breathing of three sleeping children upstairs.
The rich spices of the apple pie and Christmas pudding wafted through the cottage and the turkey’s gamey aroma titillated everyone’s taste buds throughout the morning as the family began to waken. Four-year-old Aoife Louise was the first to come bounding downstairs at 6am sharp, followed by seven-year-old Daniel Patrick and ten-year-old Liam Charles, still tousle headed and groggy in their striped pajamas. All three raced giggling to their stockings, for that was first thing to do that morning. Despite not usually letting them do so, Doro let them eat a light breakfast of hot cereal and a small piece of Christmas spice cake in the living room while they sifted through their stockings. Aoife let out a delighted squeak when she went through hers. Not only did she get Aunt Peggy’s candy, her uncle Connor sent her a wood carved German baby doll from the Krahmer doll company. It was a beauty, with painted blond hair and bright blue eyes, and a cute little purple outfit with matching blanket. At just six inches long, it was perfect for her little hands to hold. Daniel got a travel art set that included professional quality supplies with his candy while Liam got a handmade mini chess set from Connor and his family. All three children got little trinkets and a mini-Christmas cracker in their stockings as well.
As for the parents, Pat enjoyed his Swiss army knife and the mini radio from his stocking while Doro gasped when she saw her gifts. She had no clue how he had managed to get her a real pearl necklace and earring set with the money troubles they had. Doro loved them though and said that they would be just the right thing to go with her dinner outfit later on that day. Pat just blushed and giggled when she then coyly said his ‘other‘gift would be saved for later! Liam saw all this and just rolled his emerald eyes and groaned, then playfully teased his parents with the admonition that he wasn’t ready for another brother or sister just yet. Doro nearly spit out the tea she had been drinking at that and the three of them enjoyed roaring laughter before cleaning up the living room.
Two hours later, at 9am, the family all had their baths and was dressed in their finest clothes, watching a movie on the television when a knock on the front door was heard. Knowing their guests had arrived, Pat answered the door and helped Bridget and the baby in while Liam scampered out to help Daniel bring in gifts from the car. Doro immediately had everyone sit down once everything was brought in, and at the dinner table, the family pulled Christmas crackers and chatted while the table was set for dinner. At 10am, the table was set, with all the trimmings, and Pat brought out the golden brown turkey. What a bird it was too! Dripping with tender juiciness and with meat falling off the bones, everyone heartily agreed that this was Doro’s finest achievement yet as far as dinners went. Once each plate was filled to the brim, Pat led the blessing before the family savored their meal. It was a very happy Christmas indeed.
Bio: Leila Smith lives in a small town in Tennessee but hails originally from Indiana. She loves to write, read, and listen to music along with spoiling her feline muse Lovebug. Leila hopes to be a published writer one day, however she realizes that would require actually completing a novel of some sort so she knows she has a way to go. Either way, she wishes everyone a safe and warm holiday season and Merry Christmas!