Sympathies are extended to Ita Mullane and family on the death of her uncle Mick Fitzgerald, Ballyhahill on Monday last. May he rest in peace.

 I know it is all bad news with the budget these days but I am not sure how bad things are. I was in Dundrum shopping centre on Saturday and was impressed by the crowds of people that were there. Now, I am not sure if much shopping was being done but it looked busy. As I am not a shopaholic I occupied myself minding my little grand-daughter Lily while her Mammy was shopping so I was happy.  I could not help noticing all the babies, bumps and buggies around the centre. I thought to myself that we may be in recession but the population is booming and that is surely a sign of hope in our world. ‘We will not be beaten’ seems to be the unspoken motto.

Best wishes to Kay McDonnell, originally from Knockdown,  who is launching her book “The Matter of Life” in the Scribes in Listowel on Thursday night December 8th at 6.30 pm. MC on the night is Billy Keane. I am sure she would love to see you there.

I present you with another poem to get you into the mood for Christmas.

 On Going Home For Christmas  by Edgar Guest

He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant chair;
He never guessed they’d miss him, or he’d surely have been there;
He couldn’t see his mother or the lump that filled her throat,
Or the tears that started falling as she read his hasty note;
And he couldn’t see his father, sitting sorrowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written that he thought he couldn’t come.

He little knew the gladness that his presence would have made,
And the joy it would have given, or he never would have stayed.
He didn’t know how hungry had the little mother grown
Once again to see her baby and to claim him for her own.
He didn’t guess the meaning of his visit Christmas Day
Or he never would have written that he couldn’t get away.

He couldn’t see the fading of the cheeks that once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn’t stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next Christmas it might be
There would be no home to visit and no mother dear to see.
He didn’t think about it — I’ll not say he didn’t care.
He was heedless and forgetful or he’d surely have been there.

Are you going home for Christmas? Have you written you’ll be there?
Going home to kiss the mother and to show her that you care?
Going home to greet the father in a way to make him glad?
If you’re not I hope there’ll never come a time you’ll wish you had.

Just sit down and write a letter — it will make their heartstrings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness — if you’ll tell them that you’ll come.