Remembering family times in Belfast

I have always loved Christmas, especially as a boy growing up near Belfast, Northern Ireland. I recall the Christmas tree, the decorations, the large log-and-peat fire (and my red face as I sat beside it), and the aromas of burning turf, the turkey and stuffing cooking in the oven, and the mince pies. I can still picture the occasional dusting of snow outside—as kids we always prayed for snow—and the mound of presents under the tree. (If I was getting a bicycle, how could it be so small?)

My parents would go out around our area distributing packages of food and beautifully wrapped presents to people less fortunate than we were. Then, on Christmas eve, we would all go to church for carol singing. It was such a jolly time. Everyone seemed so happy.

A London celebration with a difference
December 20, 2004

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