My Ireland Trip
Share with me my trip to Ireland. It started when a friend asked me if I'd accompany her.
Ireland is the land of lakes, standing stone circles, myths, and sheep. Because we went in the spring, there were plenty of lambs. The sheep are often sprayed with paint as a form of identification. Soon after the lambs are born they get a dab of color, too.
The fields are usually divided by hedge groves or ancient stone fences. There are a few wood and wire fences to keep both lambs and cows contained.
Lamb meat while expensive in the United States is an affordable dish in Ireland. Woolen stores are everywhere and sell the most beautifully woven merino wool scarves.
Ireland contains 60% of all megalithic stone circles in the European Union and the UK. Most are on private property, but are still open for tourists/locals to visit.
This is a Hawthorne tree and is considered a fairy tree. Roads and building projects have been planned around in such trees in Ireland. Our guide told us a story where a road was either built around or cut down the Hawthorne tree and wrecks kept happening there. They eventually changed the road and offered an apology to the fairies.
Ireland is an island surrounded by the Alantic ocean, but inside the mountains, you have magnificent lakes. A good part of Ireland is National Parks land including the lakes. The parks are open for all to visit. Boats and kayaks are available for rent. We chose a boat tour with a guide who not only had a motor on his boat, but knew all the tales that go along with the magnicient, scenery.
One of our day trips was to Innisfallen Island, which is now deserted, except for the deer. It had been once a monastery. In ancient times, it was believed to be a place of learning for both men and women. There's a possibility it could have served as a leper colony, too. Now it is a park belonging to Killarney. People often picnic on this peaceful place while exploring the ruins. It is only acessible by boat.
There was a whimisical atmosphere about my Irish sojurn. There were swings everywhere and I did stop for a few pumps of the legs. Some of the swings were over water testing my resolve. I tried out those swings, too and didn't end up in the chilly water.
Here I am crawling out of OWEYNAGAT , which is sometimes called the entrance to the Irish Underworld or the Cave of Cats. It is dark, muddy, and amazing. It gets bigger once you get inside. I You'll have to try it out for yourself.
Find out more about Irish Caves.
It is fitting we end our visit to Ireland with sunset over the Killarney countryside.
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A Call from Santa by Robin
I think I believed in Santa longer than most children. The reason is that he called me! This was in the early 1950s, before kids were disillusioned through modern technology. Mom answered the phone and, after listening a minute, held the handset out saying, "It's for you."
Probably the first time that had happened to me. I tentatively said, "Hello?" and a gravelly voice replied, "Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, Robin!"
I could hear jingle bells and Santa turned away from the phone to call one of the reindeer from wandering off. Then he told me that he was calling the children on his "Nice" list to check what they wanted for Christmas. We had a lovely, but short, discussion (he had a lot of children to check on) and then, with more jingle bells and commands to elves and reindeer, he hung up.
I found out years later that it was "Uncle" Charlie Brophy, a friend of my parents'. They had been as surprised as I was when he called. It was just something he had decided to do for the younger kids of his friends and neighbors.
Morgan here. What a sweet thing for Uncle Charlie to do.
COMPASSION CHRISTMAS COOKIES BY SHELBY
My favorite Christmas memory is from when I was a lot younger. My mom wanted to bake sugar cookies with us and we needed a few ingredients from the store (flour, sugar, salt, etc). She sent me into the store with a sandwich baggy full of loose coins.
Thinking back… she was probably embarrassed to do it herself. I faithfully grabbed all of the ingredients on the list she had given me and set them on the conveyer belt to check out. When the cashier rang everything up and I counted out each coin from my bag, I didn’t have enough. The cashier asked me to choose an item to put back. I tried telling her that my mom had sent me into the store to buy all of the necessary ingredients we needed to make cookies for Santa and I needed it all. I was devastated. Everything was vital to making the cookies.
Finally, I chose the salt. The woman in line behind me told the cashier that she would take the salt. My young pride was upset. How dare she take MY salt. The salt that I couldn’t pay for. I slowly walked out of the store to my mom, who was waiting in the car for me. How was I going to tell her that I couldn’t get everything she’d asked for? I failed the job she had given me. Now, we wouldn’t be able to make cookies.
As I was just about to exit the store, the woman who was behind me in line called out to me. I turned around and she had the salt container in her outstretched hands. She told me that she wanted me to have it. She remembered being a struggling single mom and that she wanted me to tell my mom Merry Christmas. Through my tears, I thanked her and gave her a hug.
When I got back into the car with my mom, I told her everything. How I didn’t have enough money for everything and that I had to return an item and I’d chosen the salt. How the woman behind me in line said that she would buy the salt and how upset I was. Then, I told her what that same woman had done, she’d purchased the salt for us and that she’d asked me to tell my mom that she was doing great and to have a Merry Christmas. My mom and I sat in our car crying for a few minutes before she turned to me and said, “That is the true meaning of Christmas.”
Now that I’m older and have a family of my own, I still cannot make sugar cookies without thinking of that nameless woman and silently thanking her for her kindness.
What an incredible tale of compassion. Thanks for sharing it, Shelby.
An Unexpected Trip by Kathy
One of my favorite Christmas’s took place in 1975. My father was in the U.S. Air Force and we had recently returned to the United States from living abroad in West Germany. In December of 1975 my father decided he would drive the family to Washington State so my mother could visit with her Uncle Bob and her grandparents.
It was quite an experience for us. We had our school work to do but we also visited so many new historical places .
We participated in a Christmas Boat Parade. We went to Mount Rainier and Northwest Trek. We went up in the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
It was so much fun.
It sounds like a wonderful time. Happy memories.
Christmas Love Delivered
The Christmas I remembered best was when my father had just hired on as a welder at Jeff Boat. A fall at work caused him to break his arm and miss work when a strike happened. Despite being part of the union, he was on sick leave when they chose to strike and was denied strike pay. This was the death knell for our Christmas. Living on a farm provided us with staples such as chicken, eggs, milk, and everything my mother had canned. My mother tried to prepare us telling us Santa might not be able to bring us much this year. I’m not sure if this made much of an impression because everyone knew Santa was magical.
Our old dolls vanished and my mother became very interested in creating tiny doll clothes she insisted were for my cousin’s doll. My father took advantage of scrap lumber and hammered together tiny doll cradles and dollhouses when he wasn’t helping neighbors who repaid my father with livestock feed, dog food, and occasionally, venison. The dog food came in handy because we had four large Germans Shepherds, the result of my mother’s attempt to get into the dog breeding business without success.
That Christmas Eve we could stay up late and watch It’s A Wonderful Life and munch on an oversized box of cheap chocolates a neighbor passed on. Could be my parents knew this was the most they could offer us. We trooped off to bed sleepy, but hopeful that Santa would come through for us.
I remember standing at the window and peering outside at the moonlit snow hoping to spot in the distance a sleigh and reindeer without luck. Eventually cold drove us under the covers dreaming of what might be. Sometime later, a cacophony of dogs barking mingled with a woman’s shriek had us kids sprintng to the window only to see a car reversing down our driveway chaperoned by German Shepherds, who raced the unknown driver back to the road.
My father ran outside barefoot, clutching his rifle. From our second-floor window, we watched him pick up a stocking out of the snow. Mother joined him and carried in wrapped packages that had been abandoned in the driveway when the dogs came charging out of the barn. Without saying a word, the three of us knew not to mention what we had seen.
The next day we were pleasantly surprised with stockings and gifts. Even my mother and father received a gift and the dogs got a large can of dog bones. For years, we never knew who our generous visitors were and in some ways, that served us. Anyone we met, from neighbors to church members, could be our secret givers. Believing anyone was capable of this kindness made my world a better place.
Those familiar with The Christmas Story might recognize the lamp.
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