A Christmas to remember
“Yeah Paddy, they’re all the rage now…and I can let you have a set for only two pounds”
“Janey Mac, I don’t know Gerry, two pounds is a lot of money. And anyway, what in God’s name would I do with them”
“Ah ha Paddy, that’s the beauty of em, you place them on your Christmas tree, starting from the top, down to the bottom, and there you have it, a mini version of the Blackpool illuminations, right there in the corner of the livin room…just think of it. You’ll be the envy of all your neighbours and relatives”
“They sound awfully complicated to me, I think I’ll just stick to the ordinary decorations…and anyway the last thing I bought from you, never bloody worked. Anyway, Maggie will go mental if I buy those yokes from you”
“Well Paddy, you’re the one that’ll miss out on a great bargain, their selling for six pounds in the shops, and just think what a great surprise it’ll be. The kids will remember this Christmas forever, not to mention, the satisfaction Maggie I’ll get, when that, stuck-up auld bitch of a sister in law of her’s, see’s those pretty little lights, flashing away in the corner…you’ll be the one, they’ll all look up, plus the fact, I’m throwing in a cardboard village to go with them as well”
It was the pride that overwhelmed Paddy Donnelly that day, the thought of being a hero to his kids, and their friends, and also the source of Marjorie’s displeasure, Maggie’s sister in-law, that finally sealed the deal.
This is what happened; Paddy presented the lights as a great surprise to his children and his wife Maggie one day before Christmas Eve. This was done so as not to arouse suspicion and scorn from Maggie in the form of sarcasm, or so Paddy thought…
“What are they Paddy? And where did you buy them?” These two questions were delivered in such a tone that could only mean one thing…trouble with a capital T.
Paddy had to think fast “before you say anything Maggie, they’re all the rage at the moment, and they’ll look fantastic around the Christmas tree” Paddy continued, the look on Maggie’s face compelled him too. “The lights consist of twenty strands in sets of eight bulbs wired in series, this is done, so that if one bulb fails, only one strand will go out…which of course they won’t go out, plus they come in three different colours, red, yellow and blue” Paddy paused to draw breath, he didn’t get a chance to continue.
“That’s double Dutch nonsense to me and well you know it” said Maggie, who was not in favour of this purchase, and was by this point beginning to lose it altogether
“All that information is on the box Maggie, and wait for it, you get a free cardboard village thrown in with these lights as well”
This last line is what saved Paddy, their youngest son Mark, was so excited about the card board village and the Christmas lights, that he could no longer contain his joy. “You’re just the best dad in the world; can we put the lights and the village on the tree now dad, oh please dad, can we?”
“I suppose so” said Maggie,” who was not a happy camper , before parting with her final barb “I hope for your sake Paddy, that you didn’t buy those yokes, from that feckin eejit, Gerry Stanley”
“What do you take me for, Maggie, a complete fool altogether, I’d never buy anything from that con man again”
It was with a wry sense of humour that Declan Donnelly, Paddy and Maggie’s eldest son looked back on the Christmas of sixty eight, as he was putting Christmas lights around his own tree. How could he ever forget it?
All was well in the Donnelly home, the Christmas lights were working perfectly on Christmas Eve, and Paddy was proud of himself, even Maggie was well pleased. He couldn’t wait for the following day, when the obnoxious Marjorie, her husband Phil and there three brats would come over for their annual visit. And so it happened…
Jealously and envy go hand in hand, while Marjorie and Phil could not contain themselves, their three children were ecstatic about the apparition in the corner of their Aunt and Uncle’s home. However, just when success seemed to be within reach of Paddy Donnelly, disaster struck. From the mouths of babes, are unpleasant truths spurned…”Some of the lights have gone out” said Mark.
“And some more have gone out as well” said Betty, one of the brats
“Not to worry said Paddy” as panic rose heavily in his chest.”It’s just a bulb gone, if one goes, a strand of eight go” said Paddy “It’s a safety precaution, a clever idea, don’t you think Phil?”
“I suppose so” said Phil, before continuing “They’re new, aren’t they, so they shouldn’t give any trouble?”
This was an accusation as well as an insult. But Paddy just kept the head down while muttering “Where did I leave those spare bulbs?” Of which he knew the answer to, there were none.
“I can smell something burning” said Marjorie, and so it was, the Christmas tree was now on fire. All pandemonium broke out, with everyone running in all directions. Eventually the fire was put out and although the front room was in a sorry state; no one was hurt only a few of the kids with blackened faces.
“Come on Phil, gather up the children, were getting out of this death trap” Marjorie said in a most melodramatic fashion. It was a remark that Maggie would never forgive her for. Maggie was disconsolate and red faced, with shame, as she glowered at Paddy.
That was a long time ago, dad might have got away with it, Declan thought, for Paddy did blame Marjorie for sabotaging the lights and Maggie believed him, that is until they both bumped into Gerry Stanley who innocently asked Paddy, “Did the Christmas lights I sold you, go down well”. But then again that is another story altogether.
Michael Mullins © 18th December 2012