Christmas Morning

‘Angels from the realms of glory..’
Crackle of morning kitchen,
smell of burnt toast, spoon chink.
“Hurry up Dad, hurry, you’re so slow!”
Clatter of plates, cold sink,
smooth Christmas linen, wood scrape on lino.
“Hurry, Dad, hurry up, come on!”

‘ Not in that poor lowly stable…’
Through the glass-stained hall we tread.
Elastic minutes roll and bounce and spring.
Slow handle turns, deliberate.
“Fred, stop teasing!”

Silver star, angels, reflect red
flick’ring on dark fir, tinsel, balls of glass.
And gifts, brown paper, labels.
“Sit down now girls.”
Breathless we sit, gazing at the trove,
waiting for the names, the names
to be read in turn, an end to Father’s games.
“Patience is a virtue, as you all know.”

‘ Silent night, holy night…’
Lavender waxed surrounds,
rugs scattered with ribbons, paper, string.
Fire sparks, smoke sifts up, wood scented.
Father smiles. “Peace………..heavenly peace.”

Gráinne Smith


Christmas morning when I was a child – electric radio on mantelpiece above the kitchen range, playing carols – my father teasing us, insisting that everyone had to eat a sitting-down breakfast at the kitchen table before we were allowed to follow behind him and our mother through the hall in order-of-height procession into the sitting room where the fire was lit – and where all the presents (many sent by relations who lived abroad) had appeared by magic overnight under our Christmas tree.

Christmas in the days before modern technology…