Fr Colum Wright this morning in his sermon, with a congregation ranging in age from four to eighty plus years, recounted how he had just returned from visiting Santa in Daisy Hill Hospital. Really? No, really? Was he ill?
It was all the children ‘nyamming’ that put him there, he said, and it wasn’t at all certain that he’d recover soon enough to do his essential rounds this year.
What was required was a common resolution that children would display less selfishness and enter into the proper spirit of Christmas – peace, goodwill, selflessness, helpfulness, gratitude towards parents and adults for all they do.
Would the children present give this resolve?
Of course they did.
But Father Colum’s words had more effect than he could have imagined!
One Christmas morning fifty years ago I burst into uncontrollable floods of tears at Santa’s meanness towards me. Besides the inevitable tube of sweets and the mini-oranges stuffed into stockings, he had left me just one ‘Annual’.
I could assess what he had left for my four older, and my four younger siblings and my suspicions that I alone had been penalised were confirmed. My selfish reaction caused great consternation and frantic efforts on the part of my elder sisters to talk up my presents. Could I not see that the ‘Annual’ included puzzles, cartoons and games I could play?
I cannot be certain how great my faith then was in Father Christmas – but I know that I still believed, if only a little. Within a very short time, I was put to rights.
Realization of my parents’ dilemma and difficulties dawned.
A few short years later, my wonderful father died.
Though not the wage-earner, I was expected to fill his position in the home for the following four years, at least.
How I have suffered for my temper tantrum, I cannot recount; as a youth, as a father myself and now even as a grandfather.
And my father never knew how much I have grieved as an adult for my early selfishness.
He surely would have forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.
And now Father Wright too has departed our parish. But the lesson is clear!
Don’t be nyamming.
It doesn’t pay!!