I am so delighted to have my sweet friend and author Mary Anne Edwards here today. Come spend Christmas with Marian and the who McClung gang. You won't want to miss it.
A McClung Family Irish Christmas
Hello, my name is Marian Frances McClung. It’s early Christmas morning and I’ve not slept a wink since yesterday morning. Even with my husband, Charlie, nestled in bed beside me, his arm comfortably over my chest, and his warm breath bathing my neck, I find it hard to fall asleep. My mind is buzzing after Christmas Eve dinner and Midnight Mass; my first Irish Christmas with the McClung Clan.
Well, it really all started on December 8, when I flew here alone to Virginia to help Charlie’s parents, Ma and Da, decorate and prepare for Christmas. Charlie couldn’t get away from work until the day before yesterday. I missed him terribly but his family, my family I should say, has made me feel as if I was born a McClung.
Decorating began the day I arrived. Ma had me place a solitary candle in the window closest to the front door. It’s a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travel looking for shelter. Ma hung a simple wreath of fresh holly heavy with bright red berries on the door. Later, Da fastened a nest in the wreath and filled it with bird seed. He said all of God’s creatures should feast during this blessed season.
The whole McClung family, minus Charlie, gathered for dinner that night. We sat around the table recounting Christmas stories of the past. After supper, the men brought down boxes from the attic. That’s when the real fun began. Da poured out TK Red Lemonade for everyone. Those over twenty-one received a generous splash of whiskey in their glass. Ma and the girls opened the boxes full of angels, snowflakes, elves, fairies, and Santas. Ma left one small box unopened. We must have decorated every inch of the house.
It took all the men to hang mistletoe. While Da hung the mistletoe, Charlie’s brother, Sean, held Da’s legs. Luke and Dylan, Charlie’s brother-in-laws, held the ladder. All of them laughing, trying to steady each other. After Da almost brought down the whole gang, Ma took away the whiskey and replaced it with strong coffee.
When Ma was satisfied with our decorating, she opened the remaining box. In it was the most elegant Christmas crib I have ever seen. It has been in the McClung family since great grandmama
inherited it from her ladyship. Under Ma’s guidance, the youngest grandchildren were given the honor of setting up the crib. With decorating completed, the family settled down to watch The Sound of Music. Everyone sang along, even those who couldn’t carry a tune. I won’t name names.
Two weeks before Christmas, we put up the Christmas tree. The next day, Ma and my new sisters, Emma, Rachel, and Sarah, Sean’s wife, went on a shopping frenzy and returned with mounds of gifts under the tree. When Charlie arrived, he added more to the collection.
And yesterday, the 24th, Ma and I put the finest linens on the table for our Christmas Eve feast. Ma placed a huge white candle surrounded by holly in the center of the table. The meal was simple, yet elegant. It consisted of salmon with a basil cream sauce, creamed peas, scalloped potatoes with leeks, and brown bread. The Christmas cake that Da had been “feeding” whiskey to for eight weeks, was cut, signaling the beginning of Christmas proper. Then the whole clan, twenty-one in all, attended Midnight Mass, filling up three pews. After mass, everyone went to their own homes to wait for the arrival of Santa. Aunt Ella is spending the night here. She and Ma laid out biscuits, whiskey, a mince pie and a bottle of Guinness for Santa. Even after brushing his teeth, Charlie’s breath smells like whiskey. I bet Da’s smells like beer. Santa’s little helpers.
I should really try to get some rest because when Ma gets up, we all get up, and it’ll be non-stop. I’m so excited at the thought. Ma and Da will get the Christmas goose and the ham into the ovens, while Aunt Ella and I will do a proper fry-up. After breakfast, Charlie will peel tons of potatoes. Some will be roasted, some mashed, and some boiled. Yes, three kinds of potatoes. Da will make dressing and gravy and Ma will bake the soda bread and make cranberry sauce. Aunt Ella and I will cook the Brussels sprouts, carrots, and peas; I think that covers everything on the menu.
For dessert, we’ll enjoy the Christmas Pudding that Ma prepared before Thanksgiving, served with brandy sauce and fresh cream. Aunt Ella will bake apples with raisins, nuts, brown sugar, and spices. Rachel and Emma are bringing pumpkin pie and a Bailey’s Chocolate Truffle. Sarah made Irish Potato Candy and Ma soaked porage oats in scalded milk before we went to bed. She’ll use them to make a Raspberry Donegal Oatmeal Cream.
We’ll begin to open presents after our Christmas feast. Thank goodness we’ll be sitting while the youngest grandchildren play Santa’s elves. I don’t think I’ll be able to move. Yep, I’m going to be one
happy, chunky monkey, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Giveaway: Leave a comment about your Christmas Traditions and one lucky reader will receive winner's choice of Brilliant Disguise, A Good Girl, or Criminal Kind? Winner will be chosen on December 5th and will have three days to respond.
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