A day to remember

 

Ever left all your Christmas presents on the bus? Has a fox ever eaten your turkey? Michael Kellytalks to a few revellers about their Christmas memories and traditions

SOPHIE DAHL, MODEL AND AUTHOR

Happiest memory?Being with my immediate family two years ago in New York, all of them visiting me from England, and making a delicious Christmas breakfast brunch thing. We then watched old movies and laughed a lot. It took the pressure off from an average Christmas; hectic - hundreds of relations - everyone trying desperately to be nice to each other. Bliss. I'm going to start a tradition of that.

Biggest Christmas disaster?My smallest brother, Ned, locking himself in the bathroom, aged three, with everyone's presents. He couldn't take the wait. There was a symphony of smashing sounds, followed by the Postman Pat theme tune at top volume, followed by a final, gleeful roar of "No more presents!" We all stood outside trying to coax him out but to no avail, and eventually the fire brigade had to come. He was removed, stark naked and covered in shaving foam, wrapping paper, and bubble bath. Happy though.

Presents- Kris Kindle or the full monty?My family tend to go a bit overboard with the whole present thing. And there's so many of them, being that they're all divorced and badly behaved.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite Christmas carol is Silent Night. It makes me cry.

The one Christmas tradition that you can't do without?Tradition to me is midnight Mass and stockings. We still get them for our sins!

BEN SCHOTT, AUTHOR - SCHOTT'S ALMANAC

Happiest memory?Meccano. Christmas 1984 building a replica of the Eiffel Tower. It took all day and most of the next and I even got the lift to work!

Biggest Christmas disaster?The year a fox ate the turkey on Christmas Eve and my brother forgot to bring the brandy butter. That was also the year I burned my thumb on the inside of a Christmas cracker.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Full monty - no holds barred. Too many presents - but I love opening each one!

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?I really dislike Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody, especially:

"Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you've got the room to spare inside?
Does your Granny always tell you
That the old songs are the best,
Then she's up and rock 'n' rollin' with the rest."

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Walking over a frosty Hampstead Heath to my parents' house for dinner. It's actually an essential tradition - otherwise there'd be no dinner!

DAVID COFFEY, ACTOR (DAN IN DAN & BECS)

Happiest memory?The first Christmas Eve after I finished working in a pub and every Christmas Eve since. Best night out of the year in Dalkey.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Spent many a Christmas Eve serving pints to all my mates in Dalkey. I would have rather been on the other side of the bar.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Every year we say "next year we're doing Kris Kindle" but we're still doing the full monty. Everyone loves getting loads of presents at Christmas.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite carol is O Holy Night. Even Celine Dion's version. Favourite Christmas party song is Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade. "It's Chriiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaas!" Worst is Cliff Richard's Millennium Prayer. The only time I was happy to see Westlife get a number one was when they knocked this song off the top spot. Favourite movie is It's A Wonderful Life, only a recent discovery for me. Worst movie is The Santa Clause. A divorced, toy-company executive accidentally kills Santa and has to take his place.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?We have a big session and a sing-song with loads of friends and family every year on Christmas night. This year my family is going away for Christmas but our next door neighbours are going to take over and keep the tradition going.

LEO VARADKAR, FINE GAEL TD

Happiest memory?Pulling Santa's beard off in Quinnsworth when I was five years old.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Having to drive from Waterford to Dublin and back when my dad locked his car keys in the boot of his car. Working in A&E on Christmas Day for two years in a row in Blanchardstown and Beaumont doesn't bring back good memories.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Definitely the full monty. Much easier with a small family. Although, buying presents for two sisters who already have everything isn't easy.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ad?Favourite song is Fairytale of New York. Worst is It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - had to listen to the plastic Santa in Crumlin Children's Hospital singing it for a whole month. Damn you, Santa. Best movie is Love, Actually - not sure if Hugh Grant would be a good prime minister but he would get into a lot less trouble if he had a driver. The Hudsucker Proxy is a great movie, too. Least favourite is A Christmas Carol - Tiny Tim should get a job. Favourite ad has to be the Budweiser ad with the horses. It's a pity the horses make the beer too. Coca Cola does great ads. Really like the one with the polar bears, and Holidays are Coming is a classic.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Mistletoe - usually does the trick.

PADRAIG O'CEIDIGH, FOUNDER AND MD OF AER ARANN

Happiest memory?The germ of an idea to buy Aer Arann came to me on Christmas Day. I was walking on a half-finished runway in Connemara and I remember thinking, what a fantastic idea it would be to buy this struggling airline.

Biggest Christmas disaster?When I was very young I was meant to be serving Mass in Spiddal church on Christmas morning but I was so busy playing with toys I forgot about it. I ran into the church as the priest was turning around on the altar. It was a big disaster for me at the time.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?We buy for everyone but it's something small for everyone. We try to think that Christmas is not about presents and gifts.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?My favourite songs would have to be Fairy Tale of New York and Oíche Chiúin, which is Silent Night in Irish. I don't really have a worst one although Merry Christmas Everyone is really overplayed and too commercial for me. That Willy Wonka film used to really annoy me because it was on every year.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Dinner with family is the one thing that I couldn't do without. Christmas Mass is also very important to me - I love attending midnight Mass, though it wasn't an option when the kids were young.

TRENT JOHNSTON, IRELAND CRICKET CAPTAIN

Happiest memory?It's actually last Christmas - both of our kids are now old enough to enjoy it.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Getting a GMX girls' motor cross push bike instead of a BMX boys' motor cross bike at the age of 11. Not good for a guy growing up in the tough part of town! The biggest Christmas disaster was in 2004 - I'll say no more as my mother-in-law will be reading this.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Kris Kindle in Ireland and the full monty in Oz.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite Christmas song is White Christmas from Bing Crosby. Worst Christmas song is definitely Ronan Keating's version of Fairytale of New York.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?The Boxing Day test in Melbourne.

CAROLINE MORAHAN, TV PRESENTER, SOON TO APPEAR IN I KEANO

Happiest memory?It's a toss-up between finding pink high heels under the Christmas tree when I was three which were a gift from my Nan or one magical Christmas where Santa, aka Uncle Ronnie, popped in to say hello.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Biggest disaster happened on Christmas Eve when I left all my presents on the bus. Moral of the story, don't leave your shopping till the day before.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?It traditionally takes us four hours to open our presents on Christmas morning. There are six of us involved - work it out.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Marilyn Monroe's Santa Baby has got to be up there. I also love Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas. That Slade song - please God make it stop. In terms of ads, you've got to love that little blonde nipper in the pink baby grow eating her corn flakes. Also love to sing along to the Budweiser Clydesdales. Love Will Ferrell in Elf and never tire of Gone with the Wind.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?I'm a Christmassy person. I dive in on December 1st with the tree and Christmas music in the car. I wear a lot of red and always have a Santa hat on the go. I'd hate to miss out on any of it.

MICHAEL KIELY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHILDFUND IRELAND

Happiest memory?The Christmas morning Santa brought me my "Action Man" suit or the nearest thing to it in those days - jacket only of course. I later joined the Army to get the trousers!

Biggest Christmas disaster?Being the 24-hour Army Barracks Duty Officer on Christmas Day just after being married. On the more serious side, the tsunami of Christmas 2004 is the obvious one.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Full monty for the ones I like! Now the others know who they are!

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite is Fairytale of New York. Worst is Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard. I don't watch Christmas movies other than White Christmas, every year! Worst ads are the ones that start with "sale begins 26th December".

The one Christmas tradition that you can't do without?Roast beef!

ALISON CURTIS, TODAY FM DJ

Happiest memory?Okay it's corny . . . getting a tape recorder when I was about 10 and interviewing all of my family on their thoughts about the holidays. You can hear the background noise of people laughing and cooking.

Biggest Christmas disaster?My father was ill one year and we couldn't travel to our aunts where we always spent Christmas. It was just the four of us: mom, dad, my sister and myself. At first it felt a little lonely without everyone else but it turned out to be a really special day. We stayed in our pyjamas, and watched old films for the entire day.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?We used to exchange gifts with everyone until we realised that we would spend an entire morning doing it and getting hungrier and hungrier in the process. Now we do Kris Kindle and it's great! Cuts down on shopping time, too.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?I love the Peanuts Christmas Special and Rudolph.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?We don't really adhere to traditions, we have our own. We each get a new tree ornament every year with the date engraved. Swedish pancakes in the morning, and we get to open a gift each on the 24th.

DAN BOYLE, GREEN PARTY SENATOR

Happiest memory?Playing in three feet of snow, as a three-foot-high five-year-old in Chicago.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Nothing too soul-destroying. Some ruefulness at missed Christmases when my father worked as a merchant seaman.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?I go for the frustration of looking for something different and better for my loved ones each year. Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad? As a melody, although it has bitter lyrics, I like I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake. As a carol I find Once In Royal David's City suitably anthemic. Last Christmas by Wham is a song I could gladly do without listening to again. As for the movie, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without sitting through the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory . . . again.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?It has to my mother's Christmas cake. I'd be disowned otherwise.

RORY NOLAN, ACTOR WHO PLAYED ROSS O'CARROLL-KELLY IN THE OLYMPIA

Happiest memory?My brother proposing to his wife one Christmas morning. That was lovely. Or He-Man's Castle Greyskull Tent thing that Santy brought when I was four.

Biggest Christmas disaster?We bought the perfect Christmas tree one year. We put it up and decorated it. It looked stunning. Then the pine worm came out to play. The tree was infected with hundreds of them. They were all over the carpet, the sofa, everywhere. They almost ruined everything.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?This year we're going for Kris Kindle. It's like a trial run - we've always gone the whole hog. There are seven of us in my family so the wallets will take less of a hammering.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite Christmas song has to be Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. It's hard to get away from it at this time of year but it's still a great spine-chiller. O Holy Night is a great carol but to tell the truth, I was a bit put off the carols after doing a Christmas show a couple of years back. Singing Good King Wenceslas up till February will do that. I like movies like Back to the Future, It's A Wonderful Life and anything with Santy are up there. I loved that Penneys ad, remember the one with the cartoon kid in it with that tune "gotta whole lotta things for Christmas" - you knew it was closing in when that was on.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?My extended family all get together the last Sunday before Christmas for a big shin-dig. It's been going on for about 20 years and has become a staple fixture of the year. There must be nigh on 40 of us at this stage! It's a great night and it wouldn't be Christmas without it.

JULIA KELLY, AUTHOR - WITH MY LAZY EYE

Happiest memory?The year I got a toy farm which was exactly the one I'd been dreaming about, down to the very last pig. Santa had a habit of getting things slightly wrong - an albino-coloured Monchichi monkey, when it should have been brown, and a red Chopper - also the wrong colour - but my toy farm was just perfect.

Biggest Christmas disaster?The Christmas I lost my job, boyfriend and the suitcase containing all my clothes on a flight home from London. Meanwhile, my best friend was being dined around Dublin's finest restaurants by the head of an opposing airline who delighted in her stories of my decline.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?We began doing Kris Kindle last year as our family is ever-expanding. I know it makes financial sense but I do miss the excitement of lots of presents, especially that one you'd been fondling for weeks and were allowed to open, if you nagged enough, before breakfast on Christmas morning.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?O Holy Night, especially when sung by a boy soprano, is so beautiful. Fairytale of New York is my all-time favourite song and even if I don't sit through them any more, The Sound of Music, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and It's a Wonderful Life are all magical to me. I used to count the adverts on TV that were Christmassy, starting some time in November, and could hardly contain my excitement when every single one was selling Christmas things.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?A high-energy coming together of eccentric grown-ups and their children, the young people. An overly hot house, the pop and pour of champagne, winter coats balancing on the banisters. New babies, barnacled old aunts, something burning in the perfumed air.

SHELLEY CORKERY, HEAD OF FASHION DIRECTION AT BROWN THOMAS

Happiest memory?My absolute happiest Christmas memory is of the time I got engaged on Christmas morning. A beautiful diamond engagement ring certainly added a bit of sparkle to that Christmas!

Biggest Christmas disaster?One year, after hours of preparation I put the turkey into the oven and we went out for some festive drinks with friends. We were surprised on our return to find that I had forgotten to turn on the oven! We ended up having all of the trimmings first, followed by turkey in the evening.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?To be honest I prefer getting something for everyone. I enjoy choosing Christmas gifts and get great pleasure out of it.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?I adore old Christmas movies. I spend so much time travelling, I love chilling out and watching movies. I love all Christmas carols as they really get me into the festive spirit.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Spending time with family at Christmas is so special and one of the major highlights of the festive season. Of course the unveiling of the Brown Thomas Christmas windows always ignites the festive feeling for me.

FIACH MAC CONGHAIL, DIRECTOR, ABBEY THEATRE

Happiest memory?I'm a sucker for the sloppy romance of Christmas so my happiest memory is my first Christmas with my wife Bríd in New York when she was on Broadway. It was magical.

Biggest Christmas disaster?Myself and my brother were barred from the Christmas table one year as truculent teenagers for fighting and we spoiled everyone's Christmas.

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?The full monty. It was a bit of a bone of contention this year but we are staying with the full monty for now.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite carol is anything sung by Doris Day and I love Fairytale of New York, obviously. It's very evocative. Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is my favourite movie. There's nothing I don't like about Christmas so no Christmas songs or movies annoy me.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Leaving a glass of Black Bush out for Santa.

AMY HUBERMAN, ACTOR - THE CLINIC

Happiest memory?Decorating the Christmas cake with my Dad when I was very small. I remember that I got a reversible jumper from Dunnes for Christmas and I was being allowed to make marzipan decorations for the cake. I was in my element.

Biggest Christmas disaster?I was sick one Christmas and I gave the winter vomiting bug to half my family. I was better by Christmas day but everyone else was sick. They weren't happy. Sorry about that!

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?I do Kris Kindle with my girlfriends and the full monty with family. I have brothers and boys are notoriously hard to buy for.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?I'm one of those people who love Christmas, so I love most Christmas songs and movies. My favourite song is Silent Night - it's just so beautiful. The move Annie always reminds me of Christmas for some reason. I love It's a Wonderful Life and recently I've got really into Elf with Will Ferrell - absolutely brilliant. I can't sit through Home Alone any more though. It's very irritating.

Christmas tradition you can't do without?I guess it's because it brings me back to my youth but it would have to be going to Mass as a family. My Dad is Jewish so he stays at home and slices smoked salmon and prepares the dinner. I don't go to Mass as much as I should any more, but it's lovely to go on Christmas morning. You get to meet neighbours and school friends and people you haven't seen for years.

DAVID BROPHY, PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR, RTÉ CONCERT ORCHESTRA

Happiest memory?Playing poker with my grandparents every St Stephen's night. My grandad was a real character!

Biggest Christmas disaster?The year Santa "forgot" the selection boxes, which then miraculously appeared 15 minutes later at the end of our beds after a little commotion! The biggest disaster was my father's attempt at doing the dishes after his first ever Christmas glass of wine . . . he lowered it as if it were Shloer, his preferred tipple in previous years!

Presents - Kris Kindle or the full monty?Kris Kindle with the in-laws, full monty with the bloods.

Best/worst Christmas song/movie/ ad?Favourite carol is The Wexford Carol. Favourite Christmas song is Fairytale of New York or anything sung by Bing. I don't think there's any such thing as a bad Christmas song, well possibly Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer! Favourite movie is, surprise, surprise, It's a Wonderful Life, and for ads, I like the Barry's Tea "Train set" radio ad. The line, "Well, doesn't that beat Banagher" always gets me! I'm not so keen on the coke ad where Santa travels through time. A bit creepy!

Christmas tradition you can't do without?Time with the family.