2 December 2011

My Favourite Christmas... by Sheila O'Flanagan

Welcome back to my Christmas 2011 feature! As you know, I've asked lots of authors to write something about their favourite Christmas, and I've been lucky to have a great response. Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the lovely Sheila O'Flanagan

When I was younger my parents owned a small grocery store. One year my dad bought a discounted consignment of stocking fillers (mainly small puzzles, like Rubik cubes). His plan was to make up Christmas crackers with the stocking fillers and sell them to our customers.

So for weeks before Christmas my two sisters and I had to spend our evenings making up the Christmas crackers! It took forever and the pay was derisory (actually I don’t think we got paid at all) but it always felt like Christmas when we started making them.

Every year I used to ask for the same things – a book, a Selection Box and a surprise. As my parents used to buy the surprise from the wholesaler sometime in September, they would go crazy every time I’d change my mind about what I’d like the surprise to be. However I always ended up happy with what I got. On Christmas day I would be found tucked into a chair beside the fire with my nose in the book and eating the chocolate. Or Lemons sweets – my dad would bring home a big box of those from the shop on Christmas Eve.

Those Christmases are like fairy tales now – I get very nostalgic when I think about them because they really were wonderful family times.

My favourite thing about Christmas is the carols. I’m not a religious person at all, but I love the music and the words of the best known ones. The carol I like best is Adeste Fideles, I always well up when I hear that. I also love Once In Royal David’s City and Silent Night. On another note entirely, though, I’ve been known to sing Santa Baby a la Kylie when I’ve had a mulled wine too many….

The last couple of Christmases, with all the snow, were magical (even if we were sick of snow by then). To me Christmas is about memories and feelings rather than actual things. I’m still happy once I find a book and some chocolate under the tree!

I've reviewed Sheila's latest book All For You, and also her seasonal short story collection A Season To Remember on the website. You can buy All For You in paperback and as an eBook, and also A Season To Remember in paperback and eBook also.

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