It seems the note this week for all those who write, those who listen and those who talk is one of hope.
We have not just one vaccine but three vaccines, all competing, it seems, to be the first out of the traps, fully regulated and ready to go. That is such good news. I was very, very heartened to read that they will first of all target the health workers, and then the elderly and vulnerable. So all in all, the early advent of vaccines is good, good news.
Then we have the lifting of restrictions and a reversal back to Level 3, with some changes. Now I know the pubs are really devastated at not being included in the easing of restrictions, and it is hoped, if we can keep up our resistance, that in time that will come.
What I find really great, and it so tantalising to imagine it happening, is that we will be able to spend Christmas Day with our families. It is truly terrific, and I am so looking forward to going to Aengus and Lisa and their four children on the Roscommon Road for Christmas Day. We are allowed three families. I’ll be one family, Lisa and Aengus and the children will be another family, and Lisa’s sister and husband and children are coming, and that is the three families allowable.
Yes, even in that heightened, delightful atmosphere, it is important that we remain socially distant, with constant handwashing and air ventilation, all of which have been proven to be antidotes to coronavirus. Yes of course there are headlines saying that we will go into a January lockdown when the delights of Christmas are over. I don’t know how true that is, and even if it is, we will be all angling to get the vaccine and lining up, so that in itself will leaven out any fear of a third wave of the virus.
During the last few days, I thought the most delightful episode I read or watched was the one where Simon Coveney sought to reassure young people that yes, Santa Claus is coming to Ireland. He, Simon Coveney, as Foreign Minister, had given him permission to come; he did not have to quarantine and he had the freedom to roam all over Ireland at whatever speed he wanted, so that young children could be assured that yes, Santa was coming to them.
Imagine, he said it in the Dáil, which I thought was truly delightful, and I am so happy that he brought that reassurance to young children. Well done Simon: I thought that you were always sober and restrained in your comments and in your language, but you are a father yourself of three young girls, who I’m sure are eagerly watching for Santa also, so that brought a note of reality to your Dáil statement.
Another note of real hope is that, finally, Donald Trump has begun to realise that he did not win the US presidential election. He hasn’t said so openly, but Joe Biden has been given all the necessary access to information he will need as he prepares for his presidency. Of course, Donald Trump is still constantly saying the whole election was a fraud and that he will continue his studies and legal challenges well past January 20, which is the formal date of the new presidency.
I am sure so many of the readers of this column, with their families, will have looked at The Late Late Toy Show. I so thoroughly enjoyed it that I watched parts of it again on the Saturday. I particularly loved six-year-old Adam King from Cork. You will remember him as the little boy who wanted to be an astronaut when he grows up, but knew because of his health difficulties that it might not happen. He was so engaging, so honest and so courageous that I am sure he won over the hearts of so many in Ireland. I also loved Saoirse, the County Galway girl with the prosthetic leg, who again was so brave and valiant as she told her tale.
It was really good that so much was raised for children’s charities. I hope that that money will be properly husbanded and later given out to many deserving causes. One way or another, the whole Toy Show event evoked such a joyful feeling, somehow catching on to other notes of hope of which we’ve spoken above. In particular, I noted in one of today’s newspapers that the Space Centre had got in touch with young Adam and told him they would be ready and waiting for him, and that there are lots of jobs they know he could do so well, and that for Adam must have seemed like a voice from heaven.
So, hopeful notes: Simon Coveney, lifting of restrictions, The Late Late Toy Show, and the coming of the vaccines. That’s a great menu of hope with which to enter December and to think about Christmas.
I mentioned last week the lovely Christmas ads which are on the TV every night. The one I have picked as my favourite, and I’m sure other people will have their own individual favourites, is where the little boy keeps asking “Are you sure he’s coming?” He asks his Mam and Dad and his friend, and they all say “Oh yes, he’s coming, he’s coming.” You are brought along to believe he is referring to Santa, but then the little boy goes to bed, wakes up of a sudden when he hears the front door, runs down the stairs, and it is his Grandad, and he says “Grandad, I knew you would come.” A lovely, heart-warming story.
I know the ad well, and yet every time I see it, I’m drawn again to it. There are indeed some very fine Christmas ads on the TV, but it struck me that that one, about the boy loving his Grandad coming, was in tune with the times when we will be allowed, as grandparents, to meet our grandchildren again. Of course there can be no hugging, but we can have such fun with them. So it’s something to look forward to as well as Christmas.
In tune with the note of hope throughout this column, I got a lovely early Christmas present of the new book written by President Barack Obama about the first three years of his time in office as president of the USA. Imagine, it is 700 pages and contains some fantastic photographs as well. I am trying to keep it for the quiet days around Christmas when the festive day is over and I will be on my own again, so I can delve into that wonderful book which is awaiting me.
No time left in the column for a review of games this week, but hopefully we’ll return to it next week.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, hoping you can stay at home and stay safe and mind yourself. After all, Christmas is coming.
Slán go fóill.