Our mother loved Christmas.
She loved the tree, the decorations, the food, so much food! She loved the fairy on the top of the tree that never stayed on right but we still kept for as long as either me or Ross can remember.
She loved the long process of making the pudding, crafting our grandmother’s stuffing and meticulously decorating the tree.
And she loved giving presents. Watching us unwrap our gifts, our faces lighting up. She never cared what we bought her, just that we liked what she got us.
She also loved helping people. She would always tell me, ‘It’s nice to be nice’. And that’s how she lived. She loved helping people and making them smile.
I once mentioned to her about a winter hat I’d seen in a shop in Korea. It was nothing special. I had mentioned it along with many other things I’d seen and done that day. She took an interest in the hat though. What colour was it?
White, I said.
Then I tried to describe it.
‘It had a pom-pom on top, and the inside it was kinda fleecy and it had ear flaps, it will be good for the winter’, I said.
I went to bed after the call, not thinking much of it, and woke up the next morning to a picture in my inbox. It was the exact hat that I had described. White, pom-pom, fleece lining, ear flaps. It was accompanied by a simple email:
‘Is this the hat you saw? I made it for you, I’ll get it in the post today. Mam.’
She loved surprises. When I was at university, she once burst into a bar I was in the UK dressed head to toe as a leprechaun to surprise me for St. Patrick’s Day.
She loved to travel. Be it to London and Paris to support Ross while he ran marathons, Korea and Canada to see me. Over the years, mam and Ross got to fulfill life goals by travelling to Formula One races, Cheltenham and Barcelona. She walked the Great Wall of China and would regularly travel to Washington to visit Uncle Seamus.
But her greatest joy was always seeing other people happy. Her face would light up when she would get to give us things be it our favourite meal she has cooked out of the blue.
Or a My Little Pony Schoolhouse she flew to London on a day trip to get me for Christmas one year.
Or a lollipop she’d brought back us from the petrol station when she went in to pay. She got me one once when I was in my 20’s and was so giddy handing it to me!
And that’s who she was. She was fun-loving and adventurous. She believed in putting a smile on people’s faces. And she believed…
…no matter what…
…that it is nice to be nice.
Mam: Dec 15th 1957 – June 14th 2016