Celebrating Christmas

One of our older members, Joe Coffey, is known as something of a 'scribe', and in 2020 he was commissioned to write a story for our children.

Here it is:

Little Christmas

In our country Christmas comes in the summer; on the other side of the world Christmas comes in the winter time.

On one particular winter in Ireland it was so cold the lakes were frozen and the fields were covered over in deep snow.

The worst of all places was the Island of Aran. The snow was so deep even Father Christmas' reindeer couldn't pull the sled which had all the presents for the fifty children on the Island.

Poor Father Christmas was stranded. His poor reindeer tried as hard as they could but the snow was too deep, and it was still falling.

It was so dark and cold. Father Christmas rang his bells as loud as he could in the hope that someone would hear and hopefully help would come.

It was late when a very old dog started barking, which woke the neighbours. They knew the old dog was very clever and it only barked like that when it knew something was very wrong. Soon the farmer lit his lantern and set off through the deep snow followed by his youthful old dog called Woolly. They eventually found poor Father Christmas and his cold and hungry reindeer.

The farmer told Father Christmas to hold on while he went for help. Being a small Island people's houses were close together, and very soon most of the people on the Island were out with their lanterns and dogs. It was decided the only way to get Father Christmas' sled full of presents for the children was to get all the strong dogs and tie them to the sled with ropes to help the reindeer pull the sled. It took twenty dogs pulling as hard as they could to drag the sled through the deep snow. Old Woolly was too old to pull but he lead the way, barking with excitement.

Eventually they reached the farmhouse where Father Christmas was given a cup of warm milk and a piece of Christmas cake. The reindeer were put into a barn and given some hay to eat. The Christmas presents were tied to the collars of the dogs to be taken to the children who were still asleep in their beds.

After a wonderful Christmas dinner the people of the Island realised if it wasn't for the youthful dogs Christmas would not have been the same. It was decided to do something special for them.

As you know we have lots of food left over after Christmas dinner so they thought "Let's give those wonderful dogs a special treat; after all they have made it a very happy Christmas! Not only for the children but for everyone on the Island!"

Ever since, on the Island, the dogs, together with all the neighbours and the children celebrate another Christmas, called Little Christmas. This custom is is carried out throughout the whole of Ireland on the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Holy Family.

So if you have a little dog or cat, give them something special for Christmas. They can be your best friend in time of need.

Joe Coffey