Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

As a child Christmas was always my favourite time of year. As an adult I think it still is… the lists, the planning, the choosing of gifts, the food, the lights, the parties…. and the tree. My husband seems to think that if I was left to my own devises our house would look like an exploded Christmas cracker! I will concede that Christmas may be a time for going a little over the top… from food and festivities to (over) decorating! For me Christmas is also about memories…. The recent ones, the distant ones, and the ones we have yet to make! One common feature in many of my own Christmas memories is the Christmas tree.

photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc

My very first memory contains a Christmas tree… it was my third birthday and I remember sitting by it, playing with a newly received present and turning my back on all my little party friends.

For many years as I grew up, Christmas day meant a big breakfast in my Nanny’s house. My Nanny was a wonderful woman with a very big heart and a very small house but she always filled it with family. She had 35 grandchildren and instead of buying each and every one a gift, she would let us pick something from her Christmas tree that she would fill with lots of little trinket. One year in particular stands out for me…. I picked a little satin purse with the image of a little girl on it. That little purse has stood the test of time and every year since has had a place on our Christmas tree. Even now as I am all grown up and have a tree of my own, I always take a moment, as I place it on the tree, to remember the wonderful woman who gave it to me.

Fast forward a few years and I got the chance to buy and decorate my very first Christmas tree. I was in my early twenties and sharing a house with two other student friends. We all decided we had to have a REAL tree to get the full effect and got a little carried away while choosing it (they DO all look a lot smaller when viewed outdoors!). We chose the biggest tree we could find but had to cut half of it away just to get it in the front door. Another few branches had to be trimmed to get it into our tiny sitting room and still more to stand it upright. We could hardly fit into the room with it but oh how we loved that tree. The closest we could come to Christmas carols was a Bing Crosby CD we found so we played it on a loop and danced around the house decorating every surface we could find. Perhaps inspired by my Nanny and her “TARDIS” like home, that little house held many a Christmas party, bursting at the seams with the number of people contained within… and always under the twinkling lights of an oversized, over decorated tree.

These days the student Christmas parties have been replaced with more family friendly celebrations. We love putting up the tree together – we are still getting a very large tree but at least the tree can actually fit in the door of our family home. As the boxes of decorations come down from the attic the excitement increases… a treasure trove of memories just waiting to be rediscovered.  We decorate and marvel at our carefully chosen tree, with Christmas carols blaring in the background and hot seasons drinks and treats to add to the festive fervour. Adding to the Christmas glow is the knowledge that we are creating new Christmas memories for us all.

Every year, as we decorate the tree, myself and my husband chuckle away as we recall a Christmas memory our first born son created for us. When he was one he became truly fascinated with the big tree with the sparkly lights that his parents placed in the corner of the room. Whenever he could escape he would sit under the tree and placing a Christmas light in his mouth. We would turn around to see a little boy sitting quietly, his two cheeks glowing from the bulb.  He used to have such a serene and contented look on his face.

This Sunday we will all go together to pick our tree and spend the afternoon decorating, admiring and remembering. We will prepare for the big event by making our own new decorations to add to the tree, a fairly new tradition we have kept up over the past few years.

Homemade Crystal decorations
Homemade Crystal decorations

Perhaps this Christmas, we will create another new memory or two to carry fondly with us into future Christmases, yet to arrive. Memories are great stories to share so that is why I am inviting you all to share some of your Christmas memories with me. If you want to join in this seasonal linky just write your post and click on the blue button below to add it to the list. There is even a badge (below… just click, save and use) you can include in your post. Of course you don’t need a blog to get involved, feel free to add your memories to the comments below!

If sharing these linky posts on social media please use the hash tag #christmasmemories.


Add the linky badge to your blog post
Add the linky badge to your blog post

I hope you all get to make many happy new memories this Christmas too!

Looking back over early memories lead to a whole set of new ones

Looking back over early memories lead to a whole set of new ones

Last Thursday an article I wrote about earliest memories, appeared in The Journal. A lovely bonus to the last day of what was already a great holiday. The next day I reluctantly took my attention off articles and holidays and sunshine (sigh) and turned it instead to packing! All else was forgotten as I scoured a big house full of 17 people, trying to work out what belonged to who, and visa versa.

photo credit: homelesshub via photopin cc
photo credit: homelesshub via photopin cc

Needless to say I didn’t need any encouragement when a coffee break was offered an hour into the task. As I settled into the break I retrieved my phone and was surprised to see it full of messages, texts and emails. It turned out my article on The Journal was receiving a bit of interest from the land of radio.

One message (thanks Lorna 😉  ) informed me that the article was being discussed on the Ryan Tubridy show. Woohoo! Here is the link if you want to listen…

Ryan Tubridy, 2FM (Friday 8th August, 2014discussion starts 1 hour 7 minutes into the program)

The subject of earliest memories became a topic of the show, with people sharing their own earliest memories.

Then I opened my email to find a message from Spin radio 103.8 looking to interview me on the article. Double woohoo (and a bit of nerves to boot!). Suddenly all thoughts of packing were forgotten and we all ran around like headless chickens trying to find a spot with WiFi and phone signal. We didn’t have much luck! Eventually I found a quiet corner at the top of the house and arrangements were made. I had just enough time for a quick swim to calm my nerves before the interview (I may have just thrown that one in there to make you all jealous 😉  ).

Swim over I found myself talking to the lovely Lauren and Gordon from The Spin… me hanging out a window in Mallorca and them, I imagine, sitting a little more comfortably in a studio in Dublin. That’s modern technology for you! Despite the nerves I really enjoyed the short interview, I was surprised how much fun it was. Unfortunately I don’t have an audio link for the interview.

A lovely end to a great holiday, and I am sure I will remember these events for a long time to come… just by writing about memories I created a few more. It was hard to get my mind back into the packing but we managed and took the long journey back home. The holiday was full of inspiration, l have lots to blog about over the next few weeks…even on holidays I’m still a scientist at heart!



Parenting moments gone by – overcoming the denial

Parenting moments gone by – overcoming the denial

The other night I was lying with my youngest son at bed time, chatting about whatever came into his head at any random moment.

“Mammy, I’m going to big school now, its time for you to have another baby!”



“Yes, in fact I want two more babies!”

No pressure then!

The fingers came out and he started to count…

“Yes, I want two more babies, then there will be five children!”

“Five children and two adults so we would be a family of…”

A bit more counting…

“Seven! We would be a family of seven. that’s what I want!”

I was impressed with his mathematical abilities… but less so with his sibling generating demands!

My baby
My baby

To be honest the conversation made me a little sad. In theory I would love to oblige him but in reality I know my baby making days are over. I know that stage of my life has passed, but, in an act of sheer denial, I am clinging to my four year old “baby” with everything I have got. He, in response, is defiantly growing up before my eyes.

He sees what his older siblings are doing and he rushes to match them. I look on  with pride and admiration and while I delight in all his achievements I am painfully aware that we are saying goodbye to another stage of life with children. The pride is mixed with a pang of longing for what will be no more. I am afraid to look back, to dwell on any of those baby moments because I think I will feel the loss too greatly.

When I read this wonderful post on The Busy Mama blog I knew it was time to end my blatant denial and face the truth. I nodded in recognition to all the points that Helen made as she recounted her tales of parenting moments gone by. I felt like many of those words could be mine. As the blog post was an invitation to all to participate and share too, I knew that by joining in the linky I would be forced to look back and acknowledge that my baby days are over – a therapeutic way to overcome the denial within.

I have been blessed with three wonderful children. Each one a unique character, each so different but so complimentary to the other. There are so many little things that I miss but here is just one that is so obvious to me at the moment…. my two older children are correcting their brother in his misuse and mispronunciation of certain words. They do it kindly and I know that he must learn but I wait quietly in the background, wanting to tell them to stop. I love all these little errors, I find them so cute and unique and I want them to last forever. But I know they can’t.

So this is what I will miss…

misappear (for disappear)… a lot of things “misappear” with the little mischief maker around!

incept (for except)… he loves using this word… and I love hearing it!

turch (for church)… I smiled when his brother corrected him on this and he said “some people just say things differently”!!

meleeeze (for please)… it is very hard to say no to a meleeze, especially when there is a pair of big blue eyes and a cheeky grin behind it!

“if magine if” (for “imagine if”)… he says this a lot!

Dee-dee (for Culann) … this was his first word, his name for his older brother; I am not surprised he spoke his name first, it was a beautiful reward for such a loving, devoted brother, who fell in love with him the moment he first set eyes on him; this name lasted years, but is long gone now; it will always stay in the momory of his loving and devoted brother though!

“instructable” (for indestructible)… which is what most things need to be to withstand the “enthusiasm” of the young boy who uses it!

“I love you mammy!”…. no corrections to make there, I just hope he always says it!


Click here to check out all the posts in the linky
Click here to check out all the posts in the linky

I think I am ready now to read all the other posts in the linky, with a box of tissues beside me of course. I am beginning  to realise that it is okay to remember but it is also wonderful to celebrate how much my baby has achieved, how well he is growing and how mush delight he gets as he reaches each new goal. I will accept that life with him in my future will be as wonderful as it has been with him in my past, and deep down, in some small way, he will always be my baby!



Thought of the day – what is your earliest memory?

Thought of the day – what is your earliest memory?

What is your earliest memory?  Mine is my third birthday party!  I remember getting a xylophone –  it was bright, colourful and made a lot of noise!  I sat beside the Christmas tree playing with this great new toy, my back to all my little party guests!

photo credit: fred_v via photopin cc
photo credit: fred_v via photopin cc


If you think back to your earliest memory you might come up with something similar to mine… well maybe minus the xylophone, the noise and the antisocial behaviour…. but you might find your earliest memories start about the same age.  Is this when we first start to form memories?  Do we need to reach a sufficient level of cognitive and language skills to do so?  Apparently not!

Studies have shown that we do form memories from a much younger age, however, these memories can be lost as we age, so, effectively our earliest memory milestone keeps moving.  Children as young as two or three may give valid events as their earliest memories but they may not be able to recall these memories if asked again a few years later.  So when do our set of early memories settle down to what we carry into adulthood?  Usually by the age of ten!

Why do most of us have our earliest memory from an event around the age of three….

  • by this age children tend to have a sufficient vocabulary to allow them express and detail their memory
  • this is usually the age where the sense of “self” develops
  • the hypocampus (the area of the brain associated with memory) has matured enough to adequately retain memories for long periods of time


Studies are ongoing with regard to what factors may influence our earliest memories but some interesting facts have emerged such as suggestions that females tend to have earlier memories than males and that there does not seem to be any bias towards positive or negative memories.  Also, we are as likely to report our earliest memory being of a mundane nature (like me and my xylophone) as of a significant event.  Some research that I found particularly interesting was the influence of culture on the age of earliest memory.  In cultures that promote discussion with children from a young age about themselves and their feelings and thought, earlier memories are more likely to be reported.  This is particularly true for cultures that put a strong emphasis on the past (such as New Zealand Maori).  Asian cultures tend to put less influence on a child as an individual and more on a group or national mentality, and these cultures tended to report an older age for first memories.

…just a thought!


What is your earliest memory?  I would love to hear your earliest memory and what age you were when the event took place!