Wise words and festive wishes for Christmas
Vicky Phelan, Rhona O’Mahony, Pat Shortt and Luke O’Neill offer their imminent hopes
Vicky Phelan: “I hope to decorate the house in time for the Late Late Toy Show and bring that Christmas spirit into our lives much earlier.”
As the festive season gets into full swing, some well-known people in Irish life share their wishes, words of wisdom and dreams for the festive season.
Vicky Phelan, women’s health advocate and campaigner
“This year, I feel that it will be so important to put some extra thought into celebrating Christmas. It is more important than ever for our mental health to bring some much-needed joy into our lives, to create some new traditions and forge new memories. So as a family, our focus will be doing special things together since we may not be able to visit friends and family in other houses.
I hope to decorate the house in time for the Late Late Toy Show and bring that Christmas spirit into our lives much earlier. We always dress up in our new Christmas pyjamas for the Toy Show so I hope to get the tree up in time and then spend the rest of the weekend doing the decorations listening to Christmas tunes.
We are making a Christmas bucket list so each member of the family picks one fun thing to do – like baking Christmas cookies, choosing a Christmas family movie night or making Christmas cards. Once we make our choice, we will set a date in December to do the fun idea together.
We always enjoy our “Christmas lights drive” usually on our way down to Kilkenny after Santa arrives. This year we will drive locally around Limerick with popcorn and travel mugs of hot chocolate admiring all the Christmas lights. We will take photos of the nicest houses and vote for the best one when we get home.
I have sent and received lots of beautiful cards during lockdown and really appreciated it. It would be a lovely gesture for us to send letters or handmade cards to our loved ones to let them know how much we miss them. I think the ritual of putting the colourful stamps on the envelope and popping the letters into the post box is something that gives children that warm, fuzzy feeling.
I hope to spend more quality time with my children in the new year. It would be nice as a family to write down three wishes for 2021 . . . The wishes must not be about money or fame, but tangible things. After writing our dreams on a piece of paper, we will fold them over and throw them in the fire and let them be carried off by the wind.”
Dr Rhona O’Mahony, obstetrician NMH and health advocate
“My hope for the new year ahead is for continued improvements in women’s healthcare and advances in childcare. It’s so important that women continue to achieve equal footing in our society. As a hospital, we have been very fortunate that very few of our patients got ill from Covid-19 and only one baby tested positive and thrived. I hope this continues over Christmas. There appears to be an immune module in pregnant women so that’s a positive too.
I hope that our patients and staff keep well and our next generation of babies enter the world with confidence. However, I am also acutely aware that we will experience loss and there has been deep personal grief. My own mother died recently so I understand the pain of loss. Many people are suffering through loneliness and the lack of any hugs or physical contact. Derek Mahon’s poetic lines come to mind: “The sun rises in spite of everything and the far cities are beautiful and bright.”
I think the human spirit has great strength and this too shall pass.
I hope next year when things are more under control we can let partners in frequently again to share the pregnancy journey from important scans to being there to help with the baby.
On a work level, I hope that social media can be prevented from spreading fake information especially regarding medicine. Finally, I hope we will have beaten this virus by next year or at least to have brought it under control.”
Pat Shortt, actor and comedian
One of my new year’s resolutions is to see more of my godmother! I think I’ve only ever seen her once in my life when she turned up at one of my shows. She must have a load of birthday money and woolly jumpers waiting for me after all these years! She was a cousin of my mother’s.
Another thing I really am wishing for is to get back on stage in the new year for my own sake and also for all my colleagues in the industry. I know a lot of people who really need to get back to work and earn money as their savings are running out.
To make Christmas day fun and bring us all together, we will be doing our Fest Family Zoom. We will have the port and cheese out and enjoy a good laugh. We have an extended family zoom every Thursday evening and it keeps the brothers and sisters in touch and connected to our dad Christy who is 89.
I enjoy grocery shopping – it’s the highlight of my week! I look forward to heading into Dunnes with Caroline my wife as it’s a bit of fun. I feel sorry for the younger generation who are naturally programmed to be out and meeting up with friends. I am looking forward to cooking a delicious dinner on Christmas Day with all the trimmings. I love cooking and one of my favourite dishes is slow-cooked Moroccan lamb. I put it in a slow oven and it literally falls off the bone seven hours later at dinner time.
Like everyone else, I wish they find a cure for the virus in 2021. My new year’s resolution is to read more books. I have had it up to my ears in box sets, movies, Netflix and multiple screens.
I think it’s good for us all to have ideas to work on, family and friends to share a joke with and humour to keep us all going strong.”
Prof Luke O’Neill, biochemist at TCD and author of Never Mind the B*ll*cks, Here’s the Science
“Have yourselves a merry ‘little’ Christmas in this strange year, and remember – science is our best ally in the constant noise around Covid-19. In 2021 it will save us.
When something important and worrying is happening, but you don’t quite know what to think, science will help. With science you can reach some kind of conclusion and be a bit easier in your mind that what you are concluding is correct. This is intellectually satisfying but more importantly will give you a sense of control over a difficult situation .
And remember science helps us at Christmas too. Santa is still coming to cheer us all up so track him on Norad. His joviality helps to keep Covid-19 at bay!
If you take the plunge into cold water on Christmas Day that will really get your immune system going. And most importantly it’s okay for Santa and you to have a little tipple at Christmas.
Remember, a little bit of what you fancy is great for your immune system too!
Will there be a vaccine that works? Science says hopefully, given what is being shown in multiple trials. We wait in hope.
Should we aim to let the virus infect young people since they get less sick, while shielding the vulnerable? Right now science says no, because we still don’t fully know whether being infected means you’re less likely to become reinfected.
Will there be treatments if I end up in hospital? Science says yes. Drugs like dexamethasone and anti-coagulants are working, and signs are good that therapeutic antibodies will work too and might even shield the vulnerable.”