Dymphna Nugent is one of our journalists here at Waterford News & Star. The daughter of Kay and Noel Power, she lives in Tramore with her very patient husband Andrew, and their daughter Willow (9). An avid reader from a young age, Dymphna now reviews books for The Irish Examiner and had her first flash fiction published in The Waxed Lemon this month. For the entire Christmas season, Dymphna will have a book in her hand beside the Christmas tree, and a new book beside her waiting to go.
My Christmas Day
My Christmas morning starts at around 5.30am when we get up to see what Santa has brought. Before the dawn has even broken, we jump into the car, pyjama-clad, and go to my Mum and Dad’s house as Santa makes a little visit there for us also. My sister and brother and I always had a tradition growing up of having our photos taken, bleary-eyed coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. This tradition has never lapsed, and with my sister in Wales, my brother and I keep the tradition going. Back home once we are all cleaned, dressed, and the plastic mountain of packaging is someway cleared from the sitting room floor, we spend the day in my parents’ house eating, drinking, and playing games. There’s always a glass of cold Bailey’s for Christmas in my mother-in-law’s house, my order is in every year.
- What is your earliest Christmas memory?
When we were growing up, my extended family all came together for a night of food and drinks every Christmas Eve in our house. This was when we exchanged family gifts as Santa would come the following day. One particular year when I was about 4 or 5, my uncle Paddy gave me a present of a beautiful doll with golden hair. I handed her to him to help remove the plastic surrounds and her head came off and rolled across the floor, like a tumbleweed of blonde hair towards the fireplace. I was left holding the torso. I was traumatised.
- What was the best present that Santa Claus ever brought you?
Hands down, the best gift I ever received was a furry brown puppet monkey with a squeaker in his mouth. I called him Jiggy, and he still lives with me, as fresh as the day Santa brought him. For some unknown reason, we made him speak with a Dublin accent. If my house was burning down, he is still what I would run back for. I also received a portable tape-recorder with a microphone attached, I spent all year interviewing my family, reporting from imaginary crime scenes.
- What’s the worst Christmas present you ever received?
This is difficult actually, because I honestly love unwrapping a gift no matter what it is. But maybe the year Santa brought me the Turk from Tarzan talking teddy. His voice mechanism refused to die and as a teenager walking home from school, my mother would hang him out the window and he would shout down at me, ‘Hello oh weird one, I come in peace’. The voice carried a lot down a very large hill. This still happens.
- What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?
My traditions have changed as I’ve grown older and now it’s all about making things special for Willow. I love going down on the Prom in Tramore on St. Stephen’s Day as a family. Everyone has new bikes or scooters or roller skates, parents wear Christmas hats, everyone is bundled up and waving hello and the world is just happy.
- What will be on your plate this Christmas Day?
I’m a vegetarian so usually I will have a nut roast or similar slathered with cranberry sauce, surrounded by a mound of stuffing, roasties, mashed carrot and parsnip topped with wholegrain mustard, and a sea of gravy. I am a fiend for sauces and condiments so there won’t be a dry item on the plate. It’s my favourite dinner of the year.
- What are your favourite Christmas songs?
Sinéad O’Connor’s version of Silent Night is my favourite, it’s haunting and timeless and sends chills when I hear it. For Christmas car karaoke, it has to be Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, and Wizzard ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday’. God help the neighbours.
- What are your favourite Christmas movies?
I am a creature of habit. Every single year once December 1 hits, I start watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Holiday, Four Christmases, Deck the Halls, Elf, Home Alone, and The Santa Claus. Once they are watched, I’ll move onto more recent ones like Christmas with the Kranks. You will not see me watching Die Hard.
- If you were seven again, what would you ask Santa for?
Teddy Ruxpin. My brother and sister gave me the book when I was little and all I ever wanted after that was the teddy, they were incredibly hard to get. I saw him re-released a few years ago and the nostalgia nearly finished me in the middle of Smyths.
- What kind of Christmas shopper are you?
I am shocking, disastrous, my time management is woeful. I gift big, I always have, but the trouble is, I also gift very last minute and my blood pressure sky rockets with the stress of it. I’ll never understand these people who happily sit and wrap under the tree listening to Christmas songs, because I am sweating under a mound of bags and paper on December 23.
- Who will you be missing this Christmas?
This year, there will be some empty chairs around the Christmas dinner table. My beloved Uncle who has always spent Christmas with us won’t be able to do so this year, and my sister and her family are in Wales. We will dearly miss Willow’s great-grandad Sid who was a larger than life character and a wonderful man. The past two years have been extraordinarily difficult for so many and every face around our table is a genuine blessing this year. It’s a cliché but this year, presents have taken second place because to be able to be together is a gift so many don’t have this year.