Guest Post- Mary Anne Edwards

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.

Comments

  1. Growing up our family always went to a local tree lot. Walking around among the trees, smelling the fresh pine looking for just the right one. We'd return home to decorate, drink hot cocoa with the Christmas cookies we had baked. kat8762@aol.com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I wish I had some hot cocoa right now.

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  2. When I was growing up, my parents let my older sister and I decorate the tree (which was usually a fun activity). My parents would also have us wrap all the presents, and then had us to fill out and put the name tags on the gifts. Sometimes they would give us plain brown boxes to wrap, and then we would found out we had just wrapped our own gifts!
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. My mother let me wrap all the presents when I was kid. Love it!

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  3. Christmas Eve Day was spent doing a lot o baking! Most of our gifts to each other, were baked goods, as children. My 5 brothers and dad always asked for my brownies,,,I would be in the kitchen making batches!! And Granny would be making cookies. Christmas Eve we hung stockings on the mantle and went to midnight Mass...there still was no tree- as Santa brought it!!
    After we went to bed our parents put up the tree and all decorations!! We thought Santa did that!! Can you imagine? They did this until our little sister was 10 yrs old!!!!
    Christmas morning, we were'nt allowed downstairs until everyone had made their beds and were washed and dressed! My mom was smart in that!!! This way the kids were taken care of!!!
    We'd come down the stairs, oldest to youngest and Dad would open the door to the Living room-WOW!!! CHRISTMAS!!! And then the fun began!!!
    the3beersus@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today.How wonderful your Christmas is. I love to bake.

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  4. Good Morning! Thank you for having Marian on your blog. She was so happy to share to everyone her first Christmas with the McClung Clan. She loves your comments. Please keep them coming.

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  5. I decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. I have a collection of Santa's. I put them on the mantle and hearth and when that's full the overflow goes around the house. I don't put up a big tree anymore - just have a couple ceramic trees. I decorate the outside front window with a couple trees and lights. Love to have everything lit up at night. Christmas is a great time - learning new traditions will be exciting for Marian.

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love Christmas lights. I have a Santa that sits on our hearth.

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  6. Traditions are so great to have for holidays. Our family loves to take a ride around to see the various light displays. We also always have lasagna for our Christmas meal. robeader53@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love to drive around to see Christmas lights, too. So fun!

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  7. I fell in love with this little bit of story! I must try this series. One of my favorite Christmas tradition is on Christmas Eve. I bake cookies, then I snuggle up on the couch with my doggies and watch Christmas movies. Thank you very much for the chance to win!
    magicgirl2357@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love watching Christmas movies, too.

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  8. Every year would would cook latkes, a variety of salads, apple cake, brownies and have the family over and celebrate by lighting the menorah and giving gelt and gifts to the little ones. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. Can I come to your house for the holiday? LOL

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  9. We do Danish Christmas, which is celebrated on Christmas Eve, we sing carols around the tree, with real, lit candles, and you go from room to room holding hands running out the old bad luck, and bringing in the new. Dinner is a formal affair with roast Duck and Pork. Roasted new potatoes and small cold dishes. Then gifts are opened at midnight. It's a really beautiful tradition

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. Oh, my, it sounds so lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. We do Danish Christmas, which is celebrated on Christmas Eve, we sing carols around the tree, with real, lit candles, and you go from room to room holding hands running out the old bad luck, and bringing in the new. Dinner is a formal affair with roast Duck and Pork. Roasted new potatoes and small cold dishes. Then gifts are opened at midnight. It's a really beautiful tradition

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    1. Love the paragraph. Christmas is also my mom's birthday so we have a birthday party with a cake also on that day. We set up luminarias on Christmas Eve. The menu is normally some sort of meat (Steak, Ham or Turkey) and Crab legs. It is my mom's choice of menu since it is her day. It is normally my sister, my husband, son and I along with my mom on Christmas Day.

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  11. What a delightful post. We have an Italian Feast on Christmas Eve which is memorable and invite family and friends who enjoy this delectable repast. Storytelling and sun fills the evening. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love a good Italian Feast!

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  12. Very nice diary type story, Thank You.

    As for Xmas traditions, they died out when my father died. We use to all, kids.grandkids, etc., were required to be at his house with the bio-mom. We made taffy every year. And each person helped pulling, cutting, and packaging. All that is gone and my estranged siblings play one-up- manship to host the strained get-together.

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. W are trying to find new traditions now with our parents aging. I hope this Christmas will be special.

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  13. There's not many traditions since it's just me and the hubby and the furbabies----but the one we do have it to always decorate the house on the day after Thanksgiving.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  14. My favorite Holiday custom was finding our own Christmas tree. But the problem was we live on the prairie of South Dakota. Not too many Christmas trees to be found. But my parents came up with a solution. They bought a tree in town and Dad hid it on our farm. Somewhere on our acreage. Then on a Saturday before Christmas we were told to go find it. It was great. Sometimes we found it quickly, sometimes we trudged through quite a bit of snow before we found it. But we came home with our perfect tree!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love your holiday tradition. It brought a huge smile to my face. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. Two weeks before Christmas each year my three kids and I go visit my mom and help her decorate her tree, she has about 200 ornaments so it takes us about two hours lol. Very fun memorable times

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. We put up our tree two weeks before Christmas. I also put up an ornament tree. I lost count of how many ornaments I have.

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  16. This weekend we will be introducing our 6 year old granddaughter to a Dutch Christmas tradition which we did when our children were young. She is spending the night so before bed we will have her place wooden shoes by the door with carrots and sugar for Sinterklas' horse. During the night Sinterklas will come and bring a present for each sleeping girl or boy. We have the storybook to read to her as well. An old tradition for our family's youngest member.

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  17. Thank you for joining Marian and me today. I love this tradition! So sweet.

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  18. We always bake cookies for Santa, watch the original Miracle on 34th Street, open one gift each, and read Twas The Night Before Christmas.
    peggyhyndman(at)att(dot)net

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    1. Thank you for joining Marian and me. Love the original Miracle on 3th Street. We watch it every year.

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  19. I go home to visit my Mom

    kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

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