by Nuala Ní Loinsigh © 2012
Christmas was a special time in my childhood, full of excitement and activity. In early December, the writing of letters and cards involved us children, as my mother gathered ideas from us. This task was done on a Sunday night, when Dad went for a scoráiocht (visiting the neighbours) and we had Mom to ourselves. The two most important letters were sent to Sr. Patricia in Manchester and Sr. Cecilia in Glasgow, my father's sisters. Her letters were not very long but conveyed the most recent news of the family. Each letter had a postal order for ten shillings enclosed, a generous sum from a family who had little to spare.
The letter contained a comment on the price of cattle, pigs, milk and eggs. The weather of the previous summer and fall was described, in so far as it affected us, in saving the main crops of hay, turf and corn. Our stage in school was related and a comment on our diligence - or lack of diligence - with our lessons. We, as children, made suggestions and, as we got older and more mature, corrected my mother regarding commas and full stops. Mom had an idea that full stops were to be used sparingly and she would respond to our criticisms with "I have a full stop up there and that's enough".