Marie Louise McConville: Self-awareness is crucial this festive season

Controversial American DJ, Howard Stern took aim at 68-year-old Oprah Winfrey this week, claiming she "loves showing off" her wealth
Controversial American DJ, Howard Stern took aim at 68-year-old Oprah Winfrey this week, claiming she "loves showing off" her wealth

So, December has arrived and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun.

I've always loved the build-up to Christmas - especially Christmas Eve - as opposed to the actual day itself.

I love the kids' excitement, the tree going up and the present shopping.

Of course, things are a little different and tighter this year for many of us given the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

I've heard many people tell of how there have been cutbacks this year and how even Santa will be delivering less than usual.

I've always been a firm believer in cutting your cloth to fit, living within your budget, whatever its size, and getting into debt simply to buy a non-essential item has always been a big no-no for me.

Many families who are usually among those donating to food banks and toy drives now find themselves in the position of needing support themselves and so, Christmas may look a little different this year.

Of course, it doesn't help that some people have little self-awareness of the world around them and can indulge in what can be viewed as flaunting their wealth.

This week, US TV queen Oprah Winfrey found herself in the firing line for just such a reason.

Controversial American DJ Howard Stern took aim at the 68-year-old former talk show host, claiming she 'loves showing off' her wealth and is 'not embarrassed' by it.

Speaking to his co-host, Robin Quivers, during The Howard Stern Show, the DJ, referring to Oprah's Instagram content, said: "Oprah's not embarrassed by her wealth at all".

He went on: "You gotta be a little self-aware and know that there are people struggling out there.

"She's got servants and like people cooking...

"You gotta kind of think about people ... You know what I’m saying? I mean, come on. You gotta be a little bit aware of this".

And I have to say I agree up to a point.

I've never been one to boast about owning things or having this, that or the other because none of us know what is going on in the homes of others.

Over the years, I have seen some heartbreaking sights and it's left me feeling very thankful for everyone I have in my life and all that I have.

Many people will feel Oprah is entitled to live as she wishes - after all, she worked hard for it.

She is well known for her charity work and becoming one of the richest self-made women in America - with a net worth of $2.5 billion, according to Forbes - didn't happen easily,

But maybe everyone should ensure they are exercising a bit more self-awareness and reading the room, so to speak.

When it comes down to it, Christmas is about being with the ones we love, not what they buy us and certainly not about posting endless photos of whatever it is on social media.

Let's think of others and do what we can.

Happy December.


Jake Gyllenhaal has announced he has wrapped filming a remake of classic Patrick Swayze movie `Road House'.

Speaking about the new version, the 41-year-old said he had "big shoes to fill".

In the original movie, Dalton (played by Swayze,) is hired as a bouncer in a Missouri bar, but runs into trouble.

Now, Gyllenhaal will take on the lead role.

He said: "Patrick was a friend when he was here.

"He was always so loving and lovely to me.......and there are some things I take from him, but generally we made a whole new movie, and I’m really excited about it".



Who's in the mood for an '"undeniably haunting love story"?

A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford has been described as "desperately romantic'".

Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his family estate in the wilds of Scotland.

Stuck caring for their baby and trying to avoid her inscrutable mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift and alone.

But while sorting through old papers, she stumbles across a family secret which changes everything.

There is one Gillan bride who has disappeared from history.

As Caroline unearths a story of love and adventure, her curiosity about the missing bride turns into an obsession.

And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, Caroline begins an investigation which could alter the course of her life forever.

I have five copies of A Woman Made of Snow to give away.

If you would like the chance to win a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday December 6.

(Q) Who wrote A Woman Made of Snow?

Normal Irish News rules apply.


The winners of The Satsuma Complex competition are Sarah Morris, from Saintfield, Frank Donaghy, from Tallaght, and Gabrielle Daly, from Armagh