Opinion

By the frost! We've decided not to curse for Christmas – Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

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

Nuala McCann
Nuala McCann Nuala McCann

WE are not cursing for Christmas.

An old friend, whom I hadn’t seen for a while, couldn’t believe my potty mouth when she met me. It’s the pandemic what dunnit, I told her.

We are clocking up the swear words rightly about here. All it takes is for Ronnie O’Sullivan to miss one shot and we’re all at it.

My mother is looking down from heaven and sighing: “Nuala Mary, if your father could hear you now…”

She used to say: “By the frost, Nuala, say ‘Oh, by the frost!’”

“By the effing frost, ma!” I’d reply.

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So I have started a family swear box and am using the old binary system to count up what each person owes. It’s like pencilling up little bundles of sticks – my favourite bit of maths.

It’s £1 for a bad word and 50p for one considered a lesser offence. That includes the “dickwit” I used when a driver cut in front of me the other day.

There was nearly a judicial review over the reduced fine. “It’s not really a word, I made it up so it’s a 50p,” I told him who swears blind he never used a bad word until I infected him.

Apart from that, the Christmas To Don’t list is going down a treat. I’ve just added not going to the post office in December. Seriously, what fresh hell lies there?

The true joy of the season lies in winter walks. Small dogs say hello in the park and tiger cats slip through our gates into the garden and pussyfoot across the top of our fence. They are high-wire walkers, heads in the air.

Our robin perches up close on a branch… it’s ma saying “Hello, stop cursing”.

Our robin perches up close on a branch… it’s ma saying “Hello, stop cursing”
Our robin perches up close on a branch… it’s ma saying “Hello, stop cursing” Our robin perches up close on a branch… it’s ma saying “Hello, stop cursing”

In the interests of getting over myself and my allergy to Christmas, I invested five dollars on the gift of a slow December.

Courtney is a declutterer of home, body and soul – her message is to be more with less. For my five dollars, on each day of December, Courtney sends me an email reminding me to treat myself to a cinnamon bun, stick to the To Don’t list (see visiting post office above) and listen to beautiful music.

This is where the “No Christmas songs, Christmas songs list” comes in. We’ve fallen in love with the Ink Spots – mellow music at its best.

“I don’t want to set the world on fire; I just want to light a flame in your heart,” they sing and we snuggle under the snowy white winter duvet and melt.

Then I get up, sit below my big white light to soak up the rays and reduce the urge to single-handedly demolish the Christmas box of Tunnock's marshmallows under the stairs.

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It’s a time when heart-warming stories lighten the mood. Take Geoffrey Holt – caretaker of a mobile home park in Hinsdale, New Hampshire.

He was, The Guardian reports, a man who wore threadbare clothes and rode his lawnmower around town. Later in life, he had given up driving cars, switched to a bicycle and finally the mower. Given the number of d***wits on the road, I may follow that same trajectory in my own life.

Geoffrey's mobile home had no TV or computer, and the legs of the bed went through the floor. His friend Edwin “Smokey” Smith said he didn’t want much.

His father was a professor but Geoffrey had dyslexia and that held him back. Still he studied investments and was a whizz only nobody knew. It was only when he died that folk discovered he was a secret millionaire.

He left his $3.8m fortune to the people of Hinsdale to be used for education, health, recreation and culture. It’s stories like these that give us that Christmas glow.

Making a festive garland is top of my 'To Don't' list this Christmas
Making a festive garland is top of my 'To Don't' list this Christmas Making a festive garland is top of my 'To Don't' list this Christmas

But must dash. Courtney’s email just dropped; she wants me to make a festive garland!

Seriously? Like by the frost, Courtney! That’s top of my “To Don’t” list.