19 December 2014

Three wise men arrive a little early
at the front door and at Farmleigh

‘O Star of wonder, star of night / Star with royal beauty bright …’ night fall at the Boathouse in Farmleigh this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

I have not sent any Christmas cards … yet.

I know the last posting day for Christmas to most parts of the world, to even most parts of Ireland, has probably passed. But I still have not sent any Christmas cards.

There is a well-respected tradition in Ireland – or so I am told (and this shall be my excuse) – that families do not send Christmas cards in the Christmas season after the death of a close family member.

I decided at the last moment to take out my list, and start writing cards and envelopes. They had piled up on the floor around me when the plumber arrived this morning, not one but three plumbers, on three separate occasions, like three wise men one after another.

I’m glad they came and created havoc … the havoc would have been even greater by Christmas Day, because after the first visit the drip had turned to a drizzle, and by this afternoon it could have been a downpour.

Whatever about three plumbers coming at Christmas-time, I know Santa is coming. I saw him everywhere in Woodie’s in Lucan this afternoon.

Fixed figures in a crib in Woodie’s in Lucan (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

I left the pile of unfinished Christmas cards and went shopping for a few hours this afternoon. There were Santas all over the shop, some as large as life, some with 40% off, some with even 70% off.

And there were cribs everywhere too. One was a fixed crib. Or at least the figures were fixed. If I bought it this afternoon, Mary and Joseph would have arrived in the house today too … along with the Christ Child, a shepherd, and the three Wise Men.

If the three Magi had arrived home with me in one of those fixed cribs they would have had no time to go shopping for their gold, frankincense and myrrh … and there are still 18 more days to Epiphany.

Perhaps they were called in to fix the plumbing.

Instead of buying a Santa or a crib, I bought six espresso cups and saucers ... double espressos for three wise men, should they call, and, well, I get through a lot of coffee anyway.

Rudolph and his friends waiting for Santa in the Phoenix Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Later in the afternoon, it was obvious that Santa is coming, and that his preparations are in the final stages. From Woodie’s, two of us made our way through Palmerstown and Chapelizod to the Phoenix Park, where there were a lot more deer in the park than Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph and Olive (you remember Olive the other reindeer, don’t you?).

There were hundreds of them in the Phoenix Park this afternoon, some dashing, some dancing, some prancing too, but none at all afraid of the people who came close to them. That’s probably because at this time of the year they are used to Santa and the elves coming along and picking and choosing which among them is going to pull the sleigh this year.

The Wise Men have arrived at the crib in Farmleigh … long before the Child in the Manger (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

By the time we got to Farmleigh, the park was almost covered in darkness.

The crib by the house in Farmleigh already has Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the animals – and the three Wise Men, but no Christ Child. Well that’s what the Magi get for arriving too early … not a wise call at all.

They shall just have to wait a while now … unless there was another plumbing job they need to see to.

Meanwhile, there was time for two double espressos and two scones at the Boathouse, looking out at the decking and the boating lake that was once the privileged preserve of the Guinness family.

Outside, as we left, we could catch a glimpse of the city lights below the Phoenix Park, looking seasonal and warm and welcoming.

I ought to get down to writing the rest of those Christmas cards … before the child or the Magi arrive.

Hopefully there is no need for plumbers between now and Epiphany.

Christmas light as darkness envelops Farmeligh this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

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