Heartiest congratulations to John & Nora O’Connell, Gortnagross who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their family recently

Heartiest congratulations to John & Nora O’Connell, Gortnagross who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their family recently

Last issue of the year will be published on Tuesday, December 22nd We ask that all notes be with us by Sunday, 20th please for inclusion.

Athea Bingo

The last Bingo session of the year will take place on this Friday, December 18th in the Hall. Loads of spot prizes on the night. So come along for a great and the chance to win something for Christmas. The committee would like to wish all their patrons a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

Going Strong Christmas Party

A big thank you to all the people who attended the Going Strong Christmas Party on Wednesday last in the Top of the Town. Thanks also to each of the following, the caterers, Ann’s Diner for the lovely meal, Colleen Reidy for the afternoon tea, Mary Kelly, Kitt O’Connor & Anne O’Keeffe for the beautiful desserts, Betty & Johnny Cotter for the use of the premises, Blue Rhythm for providing the music and Robert Kelly and his team of dancers who gave a lovely display of step dancing and sean nós dancing.  Sincere thanks also to the people and businesses who sponsored the many spot prizes and to the wonderful voluntary workers who did Trojan work on the day. Everybody had a really enjoyable time.

The Cost of Christmas

Christmas is upon us once again, which comes as no surprise since the shops have been full of Christmas fare since the end of the summer. Call me old fashioned but I don’t like it. Time was when the shopping began on December 8th, which was a holiday. On that day shoppers would descend on the main stores and begin the annual waste of money. Maybe that is a bit  Scrooge-like but people regularly go into debt to buy unwanted presents for friends and families. It has gone to the stage now that you could be in danger of being sent to Coventry if you didn’t come up with the required gift. Children are absolutely spoiled at this time of year. I was looking at a few of the Santa letters from young hopefuls recently. Many of them had lap tops and i-phones at the top of some very long lists. These items do not come cheap and will put parents under enormous pressure because “everyone else in the class is getting them”. I suppose Christmas presents have to be a bit out of the ordinary since the treats we used to get are now everyday events. I remember a nephew of mine getting a big electrically operated truck from Santa one Christmas. He played with it for a while but in the end he got a way more pleasure from the big box it came in. He turned it into an army tank, a space ship and several more devices of his imagination while the expensive truck sat idle in the corner.

And what about the Christmas cards? I can understand sending cards to people who live away from home but is it necessary to have to spend a couple of Euro on a card plus the price of a stamp for the next door neighbours, people we see every day? Again, we may feel under pressure to do so because “they sent us one last year”. On all sides we are bombarded by advertisements on radio, TV, papers and pamphlets coming through the letter box. The people who make these ads are very good at what they do and by the look of things they are very successful. I have no problem with people who have plenty of money spending as much as they like but I feel sorry for those who are pressurised into buying items they can’t really afford and ending up in debt at the start of the new year. A little bit of understanding and commonsense would go a long way to towards making Christmas more affordable. A few years ago, our family members came up with an idea. We put all our names in a hat and a draw was made for two partners who would then exchange gifts with each other. There was one stipulation; no gift was to exceed €5. The gifts were exchanged at a get-together and everyone was happy. Incidentally, it is amazing what you can come up with for a fiver if you put your mind to it.

Then there is the food.  In the days leading up to Christmas people go into a shopping frenzy. Shopping trolleys are overloaded with all kinds of food. One would think there was a famine approaching and we were storing up for a long period. The reality is that much of this food will end up in the waste bins after the holidays. I suppose it is all good for trade and people get employment out of it but it doesn’t feel right when there are so many deprived in the world.

The good side of all this is the change that comes over people during the festive season. Goodwill prevails and there is a lot of genuine love around. Families get together and there is something magical about sharing the Christmas dinner with our nearest and dearest. We wish each a Merry Christmas and, for once, we mean what we say.

There is also a lot of giving to charity at this time. It is good to remember those who are not as fortunate as ourselves. There are many families who were in their own homes last year and are now living on the streets, through no fault of their own. They don’t have much to look forward to. We can help by donating a little to any of the charities that look after them. We should remember the real reason for Christmas; the story of another homeless family who had to make do with a corner of a stable for the birth of Jesus.  We have much to be thankful for in this part of the country. We have avoided the great flooding that is affecting the people living along the banks of the Shannon and those in Cork and Kerry. Let us hope the weather changes and they can get back to some form of normality before Christmas. They also deserve our help and we should be forthcoming. If there was a disaster abroad we would readily contribute. Now it is time to look after our own who are in deep trouble so, instead of going overboard on expensive presents, please cut back a little and give that bit extra to those who really need it. That is the true spirit of Christmas, sharing what we have with those who have not. “It is better to give than to receive.”

Domhnall de Barra