I met Annette at Carousel Creates. She hadn’t written for a while ( or if she had, she hadn’t had a chance to share it) but boy when she got going… amazing stuff. She’s had a story published in The Tallaght Echo and got a new Writer’s Group started in Ballyroan Library. She’s a great friend and I love her stories.
Here’s her Christmas one…
Christmas in Crumlin by Annette Bryan
The disco lights were flashing to the beat of the music and the party was in full swing. Someone had fallen against the big Christmas tree in the corner and the angel at the top looked like it had one too many. Everyone from the youth club was enjoying the festive season.
“Anyone around on Christmas eve, who would be willing to help out with the old folk’s hampers” the D.J. announced.
“Yea right!” Anto shouted up from the dance floor.
Everyone was giving it loads to the sound of Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody”
I was in the middle of the floor shaking the head and playing the imaginary guitar with the rest of the gang letting it all hang out. We were having the craic. There was lots of food laid on and someone had managed to sneak in a bottle of Club Orange laced with Vodka. So everyone was having a good time. The mere idea of knocking on doors handing out hampers just didn’t seem cool and it could ruin the image.
You couldn’t get into the ladies cloakroom after a quick set. All the jumping around and imitating Slade was better than a workout in the gym. So, the makeup had to be put back in place, the hair fluffed back into the afro, and the teeth checked so that there was no lipstick on them. The smell of deodorant engulfed the air you would need a gas mask at times. Then everyone was back out on the dance floor and ready for the slow set.
“Which of yis’ would like to dance?” a voice came from behind where I was standing.
Next thing I knew I was being gently pushed around the floor locked in the arms of a six footer. As we lurched around the dance floor arms locked around each other.
Sr. Rap’er gather’s voice came into my head.
“Always leave room for the Holy Spirit otherwise boys will think your free and easy,” she would say in her well tuned Dalkey accent.
Well I wonder what she would say if she saw me now I thought, with a grin on my face! It would definitely warrant confession from Fr O’Hanlon.
“What are you grinning at?” asked Mike. His eyes dancing in his head. I couldn’t make out what colour they were. Were they green or were they brown?
“That DJ is gas. Who from this lot will help out with Christmas hampers?” I said.
He got very serious and tilted his head to the side and gave me a look that would cut you in two. His head jolted in my face as he eyeballed me.
“Well I’m dong it and I couldn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.” he said and stormed off.
Something told me he wasn’t impressed.
“What happened?” asked Jacinta when I walked back to the girls in the corner of dance hall.
“Don’t know! He mustn’t like me,” I replied with a laugh.
“Odd Ball,” said Jacinta rolling her eyes up to heaven.
“Very appropriate Jessie,” said I laughing my head off. It had just dawned on me he had two different coloured eyes.
We went into a fit of laughter and continued on dancing.
Christmas Eve was boring as usual. All the presents were wrapped and we were all waiting on the day to arrive. Da was moaning about not being able to hear his programme on the radio. Mam was busy hoovering the house. “Better get out of here,” I thought, “or I will be spending the rest of the day with my sleeves rolled up.” Whenever I appeared I seemed to trigger a must-do list in Mam’s head. Will you do this or that needs to be done. Domestic Goddess. Not me.
When I arrived at the Youth Club it surprised me how many had turned up. Everyone was handed a Santa hat on the way in. Then it was all go, wrapping sugar, tea, butter, Christmas cake, Pudding and a Chicken. They were placed in the middle of the Christmas paper that had green holly and red berries repeated all over the sheet. It looked lovely and the red ribbon tied in a bow held it all together. I rolled up my sleeves and got dug in. Odd Ball was the man in charge and he gave me a wink when he seen me come into the hall.
“Deck the hall with trawls of holly fa la la la la la la la la” could be heard all over the place.
“Stuff the turkey’s h…,”and before it was continued Mike let a playful roar.
“Now, now boys be nice we have ladies in our company,” and so the morning went.
Everyone was in great form and the atmosphere was electrifying. The craic was ninety.
The smile that greeted us from the elderly people did my heart good. Marcella lived on her own. When she opened the door of her one-roomed flat she directed us to the table in the middle of the room. She wiped a tear from her eye with the corner of her apron that was once white with holly printed all over it. Through the years it had faded and was now a greyish colour. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas was crackling away on her tiny gramophone. The smile grew bigger on her face, as she tried hard to hold back the tears. She was so grateful for her hamper and she thanked God out loud for the Youth of Crumlin.
The sound of Christmas carols could be heard echoing all over the flats complex, groups of teenagers congregated outside each block singing one carol after the other. While others knocked on the door to deliver the hamper.
The snow was falling as each of us made our way back home to warm and comfort that awaited us.
It was such a joy to bring some happiness to those who were less fortunate than us. It gave me the most fantastic feeling in the world. One that has remained with me all my days and I will keep with me forever.