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  • My father-in-law died last week. This is his story.
    My father-in-law sold combine harvesters in his hey day.
    I gave the following eulogy at his funeral:

    "I just love Christmas. It's all about money and pressies," my 12 year old daughter says gleefully as she pulls a Christmas cracker with my mother-in-law at the kitchen table.
    I die inside.
    Up until now my in-laws annual Christmas visit has gone ding-dong smoothly, but now I'm thinking my mother-in-law is probably wondering what sort of a rearing have I given my children.
    I need a miracle.
    "No, it isn't," my 8 year old daughter pipes up. "It's about the baby Jesus."
    Oh, my little angel, who even has the angelic smile, to boot! Her Nani smiles back at her.
    "Oh, right?" my 12-year-old daughter says.
    My heart stops. Something about her tone doesn't bode glad tidings of great joy and peace to all peoples.
    "Well, then, if it’s all about the baby Jesus, how come you're flicking through the SMYTHS toys' catalogue under the table?" she says.
    "I'm looking for stuff for next year," her younger sister snaps. "Something wrong with that?"
    "Yes," her older sister says.
    Now even I am beginning to wonder what sort of kids have I reared.
    "Put that away," I shout.
    "I remember in 1961 ...," my father-in-law begins, fixing his paper hat.
    "He's back in the old days," my mother-in-law says, chuckling. "Adrian doesn't want to hear about that."
    I do - anything is better than my children right now.
    "... I remember in 1961 going up to your Nani's father's farm to demonstrate a combine-harvester to her father," he says to the children, "and I spots Nani in the yard and I says to her, 'Would you ever come to the dance in Courtmacsherry with me?' and she says she'd be too busy picking blackberries for that. But, sure, anyhow, that weekend didn't we meet at the dance and we sneaked outside to my car for a ‘courting’, and we went back in 45 minutes later, and the rest is history."
    "Yes," my wife says, all excited, "to think if Daideó hadn't demonstrated that combine-harvester to Nani's daddy, he would never have met Nani, and we wouldn't all be sitting around this kitchen table celebrating Christmas."
    Now, we are wishing peace and goodwill to all peoples on earth, all of us smiling.
    “How can Daideó remember all that at 88 years of age?” my 14-year-old daughter says.
    "Love. Everybody has a 'combine-harvester' story," I say. "Hopefully, you will too some day."
    My 12 year old rolls her eyes. Her mind is still on money.
    "Daideó," she says, "Did Nani's daddy buy the combine harvester in the end?"
    "He did," my father-in-law says, proudly.
    "You really got a bargain there," I say.
    My mother-in-law laughs.
    "Time to hit the road!" my sister-in-law says. "Same time, same place next year then?"
    "Not me," my father-in-law says. "I won't be around next year."
    "Why not, Daideó?" my youngest child asks.
    He points his finger heavenwards, as he does every year, and we all laugh.
    We go to the front door. The 50 Euro notes start flying. The children's hands are out. My sister-in-law hands me one too.
    "Remember, daddy," my 12 year old says, "Christmas is not about the money."
    Well, let's just say it is, and it isn't.

    Today, it's about Joe. The gentlest man I've ever known. May he rest in peace!
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