By Catherine O’Donnell

For me, as an eight-year-old child growing up in East Donegal, Christmas was the culmination of months of excited anticipation. This was the early 1960s and all the children in my family, in the townland of Drumbuoy, eagerly awaited the magical season of goodwill.

As November sombreness eased into the expected joy, happiness, and plenty, of December, it was all systems go to prepare for the ‘big day.’

Cakes had long since been baked and stored in airtight tins, puddings well wrapped in foil, and the turkeys growing plumper in the yard. Chocolates, biscuits, Sandeman Port, and other goodies took their place among the array of gifts ready to give to family, friends, and neighbours. All was progressing nicely on the domestic front.

Santa in our house had always been a most generous visitor. Perhaps being the second-youngest of a large family, he opened his sack wide for me every Christmas. No complaints there then!

However, one particular Christmas, my mind was full of expectation. This arose from a trip to our nearest big town – Strabane. The window of Woolworth’s shop was truly a wonderland for us children. The equivalent of Brown Thomas’ Christmas window display…well almost.

Now, I always had a longing for a piano and the tin whistles and accordion in our home were poor substitutes indeed. I think I fancied that one day I would be a famous piano player – playing to packed audiences all over the world. The innocence of childhood!

However, without a piano this would not be an easy dream to realise. Still there it was, in the centre of the window, la piece de resistance! Tucked in among the dolls, jigsaws, cars and tractors, it was like a beacon drawing me towards it. I stood spellbound by the sheer beauty of the black, shiny mini grand piano. Perfection!

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own