"On this, the holiest and special of days, Sheila and I wish all our family, neighbours and Facebook friends a very Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I approach the end of 2017 a happier and healthier person than I began it. Having been born in the 'Year of the Horse' in the Chinese calendar, I am able to say that my wife has kept me well fed and warmly stabled since she rounded me up on Main Street during December 2010 and corralled me for the wild stallion I was. She has been and shall always remain the greatest of treasures I have discovered in my life. I'm so glad now that she shut the stable door and harnessed me to her affections before I broke into familiar gait and bolted for the wild beyond.
Today is a good day to share your happiness with others and to thank the Lord for all the good things in life that surround us. It is, after all, that day of the year which is capable of melting the hardest of hearts and fulfilling the promise of the Christmas star. I recall one Christmas as a young child growing up the eldest of seven in a materially poor family. It was snowing deep outside and the only pair of footwear I possessed was holed in the sole, inside which, dad had placed a piece of stiff card to stop the damp coming through as quickly as it otherwise would have. This was seemingly a common practice used by many working-class families during the war years, and up until the late 1950's.
As I looked at my shoddy shoes I felt sorry for myself and shed a tear. Mum saw me cry and she said, 'Cheer up, Billy, and thank God that you and your family are all safe and well.' Then she reminded me that as a child in Southern Ireland, she had often gone without the benefit of sound footwear. She also said that her mother used to wear an apron which had been fashioned and stitched from a flour sack. As the oldest child in her large family, her mother frequently told her that it was her duty to show a proper example to her younger brothers and sisters by not whingeing over slight discomfort. Then mum told me in her matter of fact way,' I cried when I had no shoes, Billy, but I never knew how lucky I was until I met a man with no feet!'
My dear mother was one of the most generous people I ever knew. She would give her last penny to any tramp for the mere asking and her precious time to anyone who wanted it. She never gave less of herself than was asked for, or ever expected more from another that could be given. My mother gave her respect to everyone she met, not because they had earned it, but because she thought they deserved it. When I questioned her boundless generosity to people outside the family, citing that we needed all we could muster together for Christmas presents and food for the table. she would tell me, 'Billy, look to your heart for the presence of Christmas. You'll never find it under a tree.'
God bless you Mum and Dad for your wise guidance and all of the Forde and Fanning family who now occupy a place in that other life which requires no shoes.
Christmas is the road home to your family, friends, neighbours, and your God. It is that special time of year when there exists the will to right past wrongs, heal old wounds that have festered for far too long and make peace with oneself. Christmas stirs a natural wish to renew contact with all those people who mean so much to us.
Sheila and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. May happiness and generosity of spirit come to you all in abundance: and those, for whom this festive season still holds a tinge of sadness because of the loss of a dearly departed whose anniversary occurs around this time, may you find the strength to experience this special day in peaceful reflection and loving remembrance, and may your God go with you.
My very first task before preparing today's post was to send birthday greetings to my Facebook contacts whose birthday is today. In particular, I wish a very happy birthday to Rose Pradeep from Dubai. What a wonderful day to be born. What a special day to celebrate one's birthday and to be a part of. Please enjoy my favourite Christmas song. Merry Christmas all. Love and peace from Sheila and I xxx" William Forde: December 25th, 2017.