Saturday, 24 December 2011

Oiche Nollaig

As we endure December's frenzy of obligations and expenses, I find it important to take time off with the reason for the activity – my daughter. So the other day we took a long bus ride to Dublin, to see a panto. 

We never had pantos in the USA – certainly my spell-check keeps underlining the word as I write this – but they are a major event in every Irish childhood. A panto is a vaudeville-style play for children, short for pantomime, filled with songs, broad comedy for children, and double entendres and political jabs aimed over their heads at the parents.  

The typical panto takes a fairy tale or other well-known story – Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, even Robinson Crusoe. The story is adapted for the panto’s stock ingredients: a cute young couple in love, a bumbling old king or father, a man dressed as a middle-aged woman, a cackling villain and a group of backup singers. The villains are the real stars of any panto, singing the best songs and played by well-known media personalities here.

My daughter and a few hundred other children laughed at the slapstick, held hands at the scary parts, sang along with the songs and cheered at the end -- and when they asked for volunteers from the audience to come up and dance with the cast, I went up on stage at my daughter’s urging. 

It was 4 pm and night when we emerged into Dublin again. We listened to the streetside musicians play whistles and spoons, and stopped in Temple Bar for fish and chips. As we walked under strings of lights that read, “Nollaig Shona Duit” (Merry Christmas), and she held my hand tightly. 

“This is the best Christmas ever,” she said. “Don’t you think, Daddy?”

“So far,” I said. “But just wait.”

Photo: The River Liffey in Dublin at afternoon sunset. Oiche Nollaig = "Christmas Eve" in Irish.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I've been reading your blog for about a year. I find it thoughtful and well written. Merry Christmas to you, your wife and the girl.
Pat from Irondequoit, NY

Brian Kaller said...


Thank you very much; that's great to hear. Write anytime.


Andy Brown said...

Merry Christmas! May each one be the best.

Brian Kaller said...

You too, Andy.