I had great plans this year to be totally organised for Christmas by December 1. The date has come and gone and I’m no further ahead than I was in October!
Of all the chores to tackle in the run up to Christmas, I particularly dislike the Christmas card task. Because of postage deadlines, those that you are sending abroad have to be taken care of first and sent this week in fact. I could of course opt for an e-card and send it from my computer, but there is something nice and traditional about something landing on the mat through the letterbox.
It says that you took the trouble to choose, write, stamp and take the card to a post box. I never take much notice of the image on the cards I receive, I’m just glad someone took the trouble to send one but when it comes to choosing cards I will send out, I dither. Something Christian or something secular? Which charity should I support, local or international? The list goes on.
This year I have found something ideal for those abroad. Instead of a Christmas card I’m sending them a soft cover book of poetry called ‘Lying Awake’ written by local man Paddy Cusack. It ticks all the right boxes in that a percentage of the proceeds are going to the local hospice organisation, so that’s the charity angle sorted out.
The poems are all based on actual events or experiences and are a mix of reflective, humorous, observational and Christian storytelling, so there is something there for everyone regardless of faith. With a cover price of just €5, it’s affordable as I only have a half dozen or so friends abroad. It is also more of a gift than a card and definitely something people can keep and dip in and out of all year round.
Paddy is a retired farmer from Kilrossanty, County Waterford and writes poetry in his spare time. He has a gentle wit that infuses his writing and makes the poems very easy to read. Some make you smile, others make you think and the fact that Paddy spent his life as a farmer, it is easy to see the simple joy he finds in nature; something we could all do with finding and remembering every now and then.
Although based in County Waterford the poems are universal in theme and not geographically based. They celebrate life in various months, the joy of the spring coming after a long winter, the simple pleasure of a log fire on a cold night. They reflect on modern life, for example, the financial cost of having a simple head cold or places that Paddy has visited, abroad and around Ireland.
It is a very unpretentious book and definitely reflects the writer’s personality. It is hard to choose one that will give a flavour of the book but I kept coming back to one title ‘Losing Your Mind’, a light humorous reflection on aging, which is something we will all have to contend with one day.
Losing Your Mind
Every night I have so much to do
Before I go to bed
It’s not like days gone by
When I could jump in and rest my weary head.
I have a bedside locker
Four drawers down the side
In those secret little spaces
My bits I try to hide.
The top drawer has my wig
I lost my hair years ago
I couldn’t bear the rain on my head
My ego was very low
The next drawer holds my glasses
Also my hearing aid
God knows I must be careful
A princely sum for them I’ve paid
I have rubbers to support the arches in my feet
And an elastic bandage for my knee
They all go together
In drawer number three.
I rest my walking stick against the press
Almost the last thing I do
I open the bottom drawer
Loosen my timber leg, it fits me like a shoe.
Now it has stuck again
This is the hardest thing I find
Am I going to bed or getting up?
I’m losing my bloody mind!
There are sixty different poems in ‘Lying Awake. It is a slim soft cover A5 size book that is easy and inexpensive to post.
It is also only available locally and therefore something that will be different than New York, Sydney, the UK or any other part of the globe where someone is spending Christmas and would love a little piece of home through the post.