On 'Christmas Eve' by Maeve Brennan

The Star ran a feature asking 'Local Personalities' to pick a Christmas scene from a book. Apparently I somehow qualify as deserving of that epithet, but being obtuse (for a change) rather than chose a scene from a book I chose an entire short story - Christmas Eve by Maeve Brennan.

'Maeve Brennan is a reclaimed Irish writer, almost unknown in Ireland until after her death. Like most female Irish writers her work was long overshadowed by the reputation of her male compatriots, but hers doubly so since she lived most of her life in the United States.

On the surface Christmas Eve is a story of a Dublin family preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus. There is an almost fairytale simplicity to the writing, but that simplicity is deceptive. The story is deeply layered. Even though not a lot seems to happen and there is a huge amount going on.

Christmas Eve is evocative and nostalgic without being cloying or saccharine. It’s a story that invites reflection, fittingly part of what Christmas represents. That it was first published in 1972, the first Christmas I have any memory of, and set in Dublin to boot, give additional layers of personal resonance and significance to my reading of the story.'



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