Why just last night, as I was drifting off to sleep I was thinking back with fond memories to the days when I was a wee child and Christmas was full of magic, when I believed in Santa Claus and that's when the memories of my Grandad surfaced.
This is my Grandad and Great-Grandad pictured here. Now aren't they the pair? And they were, always getting up to no good and almost always in trouble for something..
One Christmas, my Grandmother for inexplicable reasons, left us kids alone with Gandad on the eve of Christmas. Oh and it was a wonderful time it was. He let us have sweets and sat us down in front of the fire and told us the story of Santa Claus.
Grandad was the one to talk, he was. And he told the story so well, we could picture Santa comin' down the chinmney with his red pants and shiny black boots. "Don't move," he said, putting on his coat and boots. "I've a surprise for Santa. I'm headed out ta the barn, but I'll be right back." Well we knew Grandad kept poteen out there, so we thought maybe he's goin' ta leave a bit of brew for Santa, to entice him to leave us better presents. Oh, but we were hopeful. Then the door flew open and in came Grandad and he was holding something shiny in his hands.
It was an animal trap. "I'll put this in the fireplace and when Santy comes down, SNAP, we'll have him." Well five children started screaming and crying and Grandad was shouting at us to settle down. We sat there sniffling and hiccuping while he explained his grand plan to us "When I trap Santy in this, I'll go up ta his sleigh and give you kids all the toys. See?" he said. We didn't see, but Grandmother did, because after she came home the only thing I remember was the sound of her yelling at him and him trying to calm her down. It was a great Christmas.
And there was another year that really stands out in my memories. I was just old enough to begin to doubt the existence of Santa, but still young enough to want to hang onto the fantasy. We kids were spending the eve of Christmas with our Grandparents as was our custom and had been put to bed. Well, you know how children are. The five of us lay there, fighting sleep when suddenly up on the roof we heard an amazing sound.
It was the sound of heavy boots stomping around and a loud ringing of sleigh bells. "Oh it can't be. Santa is real, he's really real." I remember thinking. I was so happy at that moment. And then....
The sound of gunfire. I screamed, we all screamed, grandmother screamed everyone expect Grandad was screaming. He was outside holding a shotgun in his hands. And laying at his feet was my Uncle Sean, piss drunk, face down in the snow holding heavy sleigh bells in his hands. "Jesus Christ, ye've killed Santy Claus!" was the only thing I remember anyone saying. Apparently my Uncle and Grandad had made plans earlier in the week to surprise us kids with the sound of Santa on the roof. But somehow my Grandad forgot, thought it was a robber, grabbed a gun and shot it up into the air, causing my drunk Uncle to topple to the ground. The rest of the night was filled with the sound of children crying, my Grandmother screaming and my Grandad apologizing. Another O'Leary Christmas come and gone. It was grand I'm tellin' ya.
Now I'm reminding you again that I'm leaving to go home for the holidays on Thursday. My last post before Christmas will be Wednesday.