Thanks to those who carry the load of making Christmas magic

Kathriona Devereux reflects on the past week and the magic of Christmas
Thanks to those who carry the load of making Christmas magic

Katriona brings a box of Christmas themed books down from the attic with the decorations - they make for some lovely, albeit teary reading over the festivities. Pictures: Stock

WE have a box of Christmas themed books that are kept with the decorations in the attic and make an appearance in December when we put up the tree. Each illustrated book is greeted like an old friend and we all have our favourites. Granny Saves Christmas about a senior female mouse who constructs an elaborate slide for Santa to help him alight from her roof because she doesn’t have a chimney (must be an A-rated new build) is very cute. The moral tale of not fighting with your siblings over the trivial matter of a broken decoration is usefully conveyed in The Christmas Wish. And we all identify with the rabbit Moz in A Long Way From Home who tires of his family not giving him sufficient space but then misses them terribly when his solo adventure goes awry.

My favourite is called The Magic of Christmas featuring a very large mouse family discussing what it is that makes the magic of Christmas. Every mouse has an opinion - for some it’s the warm smell of baking and spices, for others it’s sitting in front of the fire, playing in the snow and building a snowman gets a mention, as do the presents. The ending always gets me teary (admittedly I’m usually very tired by the end of the year). Mummy Mouse cuddling Little Mouse saying “ The magic’s in all that we do! With loved ones and friends all together we share, a magic that lasts the year through”.

Funnily there is no book called The Twelve Days of Excessive Spending or Christmas Day - When Endless Washing-Up Was Born. I think we should acknowledge a bit more that the magic of Christmas takes a lot of effort, planning and work.

As well as Santa and the elves, I’d like to salute the army of retail workers, delivery drivers and frontline workers who work their socks off in December so Christmas can happen for others. For all those who carry the load of making Christmas magic - thank you and well done!

Winter illness

There are a lot of people who didn’t enjoy the big day on Sunday because they were rattled by the flu and up to their streaming eyeballs in Lemsips and Vicks Vaporub. It’s a bumper winter for germs. Kids with naive immune systems sheltered by the lockdowns of the last two years are being exposed to lots of new viral infections this winter. Many families find their kitchen counter transformed into a mini-pharmacy with bottles of paracetamol, ibuprofen and honey and lemon syrup jostling for space next to throat lozenges and humidifiers.

Doctors are talking about a tripledemic of flu, Covid and RSV along with the “normal” winter viral infections. Antibiotics are no help for viral infections and GPs are asking people to use paracetamol and time to help the recovery from viruses because inappropriate use of antibiotics is leading to a crisis of antimicrobial resistance - the drugs don’t work.

Our family ploughed through so many boxes of tissues in recent weeks I wondered if there is a way of turning our annual snot factories into something more constructive. Is it possible to monetise mucous? Or at least mine it for something beneficial. With microbiologists looking everywhere for new sources of antibiotics has anyone thought of sampling the snotty noses of toddlers for overlooked but valuable proteins in the latest blockbuster drug?

If you haven’t already had the flu it’s not too late to reduce your risk. My GP, with a premonition of how bad Winter 2022 was going to be, offered me the flu vaccine back in October when I attended for something entirely unrelated and when I read that in the recent flu season in Australia 60% of flu hospitalisations were in children I decided to get our two vaccinated. The nasal spray for administering the vaccine to kids is completely painless - the only “side effect” was one or two sneezes post administration.


Five years ago I filmed at Ballyvolane Fire Station telling a story about battery storage. The firestation’s solar panels and battery system meets a significant chunk of the station’s electricity needs. When I asked why they had decided to install the system the answer surprised me. It was because firefighters are leaders in the community and because climate action is urgently required, as leaders they were showing the way. Nice.

A recent study into why people install solar panels found that government policy, subsidies and geography were all important but the biggest factor was whether a neighbour already had them on their roof. Turns out solar panels are contagious. In a good way!

Next year we need ambitious and noble people in fire stations, hospitals, schools, community halls, other public institutions and private homes across the country to lead the way in getting carbon emissions down.

Last week the government launched the Climate Action Plan 2023 and there is a lot of talk about solar panels. We’re going to see a lot more of them in the next few years.

Thinking of solar panels in the depth of winter offers much hope. Hope that brighter days are coming, and when they do we will be utilising the power of the Sun instead of polluting fossil fuels.

If you’re one to make New Year’s resolutions consider making a promise for the planet in 2023. That promise could mean more insulation and less driving. Or more solar panels and less meat. Regenerating the way we live and our relationship with the planet would be the most magical present of all. And not just for Christmas.

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