The secret to a happy Christmas? Make a 'to don't' list – Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann is an Irish News columnist and writes a weekly radio review.

The curmudgeonly Grinch has been banned from the McCann household this Christmas
The curmudgeonly Grinch has been banned from the McCann household this Christmas

CHRISTMAS is coming and for once, I have kicked my inner Grinch out the door.

Think Father Ted giving Bishop Brennan a big boot up the fundament… ah, the satisfaction.

Remember those mean things I once said, like how I loved Christmas until I was Christmas? Remember the smell of singed martyr wafting from the kitchen on Christmas day?

Not this year. Baby, it’s cold outside and every day starts with a special Christmas song.

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This morning, it was Bing Crosby and Silver Bells. Bing had the voice but maybe not the looks. As ma used to say, we are passing through a vale of tears (as opposed to a winter wonderland) and you don’t get everything.

The other half considers it a little premature to embrace his inner Christmas elf.

“It’s November,” he sighed. So he requested Sixteen Tonnes – the original by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

“Sixteen tonnes and what do ya get? Another year older and deeper in debt…”

My sister rings. She reminds that I promised her youngest an Advent calendar.

I invested in a big fancy one and have 24 drawers to fill. So far I’ve got him a pair of cheap socks with a picture of Santa stuck in the chimney and enough sweetie tat to scandalise the dentist.

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I have also promised him a visit to see Santa. She wonders would I like to take him to the Fairytale of New York show as well.

This is, she assures me, a medley of come-all-yes and since I was the one who inspired his fervent fandom for The Dubliners, it is my duty to take him.

When he was six, her boy got into the song Salonika big time, treating visitors to the words: “They takes us out to Blarney, they lays us on the grass, they puts us in the family way and they leaves us on our ass.”

I do, indeed, have a debt to pay to society, I tell her. We shall go.

I’m enjoying Christmas much more since I stumbled upon having a “to don’t” list.

This year I'm embracing the Christmas spirit
This year I'm embracing the Christmas spirit

Don’t make your own cake, don’t send cards, don’t cook turkey because who likes turkey? The sheer liberation of the “to don’t” list is hard to beat.

So apart from hitting the supermarket shelves and buying wine for one and all including a bottle of 19 Crimes for a dear friend – I wonder what crimes he has in mind – I’m riding this Christmas out.

I’ve already Scrooged it – the men of the house have been put on a budget and told to cough up their lists and stick to the limit. Now it’s just about meeting old friends and having a laugh.

This week has had its moments. It involved some intricate dental surgery for implants that has left me with a mouthful of stitches.

“Does it hurt?” some kind soul asked. “Only in my pocket” I told her.

But it is a long term investment in my ability to eat a steak. The question is where the steak came from, says another friend.

We were having a lovely dinner, the three of us, friends for over 40 years. “This was definitely an Irish cow, I could taste 40 shades of green grass” I told her.

I was talking bull. She works with young people and is thinking more about the planet.

As I live with a guardian of the galaxy and the chief prosecutor for recycling – as in “Who put this half-washed tuna tin in the recycling?” – I know the score.

When I leave lights on, leave the TV on standby, sneak a bit of paper into the wrong bin, I feel bad. Now, I can’t watch a beached whale or a glacier melting without feeling a twinge of guilt.

Therefore, in this season of joy, I may also put wrapping presents on the “to don’t” list – for the love of trees, for the love of Greta and also to hell with the sheer faff of doing it… yo ho ho ho.