My last column before Christmas is a plum pudding from which I will pluck out some sweet plums and a few bitter almonds.
First plum: the Cork Holly Bough, which carries a fine picture of a relieved and happy Micheál Martin with his family, probably taken after he was finally reunited with them after his long Covid separation.
It also carries my modest piece on the politics of Niall Tóibín, who in New York once reflected that if Jewish comedians could make jokes about the Holocaust, surely we could get over the Famine?
Another fine plum is my annual letter from Tadhg O'Leary of Mayfield, Cork, in flying column form this year. He begins as usual with ironic congratulations: "I must commend you for your consistence in sullying the names of our Freedom fighters." And he goes on to excoriate the British Empire for its colonial crimes.
Sweet, too, was Gerry Nelson's fulsomely praised film tribute: Christy Ring: Man and Ball.
But praise, like adjectives, to be of any critical value must explain, not emptily emphasise; not just say something is good but be able to say why it is good.
As a former television producer, what I admired most about the making of Christy Ring was the courage of Gerry Nelson in deciding to let sound, not pictures, do the heavy lifting.
Faced with a famine of footage, and necessity being the mother of art, Nelson didn't dump grainy pictures on us but used sound tapes to tell an epic story.
The only quibble I had was an early attempt to shoehorn Ring into the national struggle, with a contribution that implied the Victorian British Empire suppressed Gaelic games.
Actually, many Irish volunteers played cricket and hurling. Also, Cúchulainn is not pronounced Kewcullin.
It's a pity Theo Dorgan, who separately compared Christy Ring to Cúchulainn, did not know that Professor Seán Ó Tuama, of UCC, claimed to have seen the ríastradh contorting Ring's face during a Munster final against Tipperary.
This was an honest film whose credentials were confirmed when Professor Paul Rouse, referring to a rare bit of bloody play by Ring, said hagiography did not serve a hero.
But the most powerful image of the film was Kevin Cummins's colourised photo of Ring standing for the national anthem at his last game in 1967, Glen Rovers versus UCC, in the old Cork Athletic Grounds.
What makes the photo special is that Ring is shot from a low angle so he rises up in the frame - but back to us. Because we cannot see his face, the image intensifies the sense of mystery and myth.
But to keep our boots on the sod, Christy's daughter, Mary, told Kevin Cummins it was the favourite photo of her mother Rita, Christy's wife, because of its detail.
Rita would point out to visitors all the neat darning she had done on his socks.
These frugal darnings, done with loving care, sum up what is great abut the amateur status of the GAA.
Another fine RTÉ documentary last week was Frank Shouldice's Belturbet: A Bomb that Time Forgot, a stark reminder of the devastation wrought by loyalist and republican paramilitaries in 1972, the worst year of the Troubles.
In the month of Belturbet there were deaths almost every day, amounting to 37 in total. In the whole year - as was the case throughout the Troubles - the biggest agents of death were the IRA. Republicans killed 280, loyalists killed 121, the British army killed 79 and the RUC killed six.
The sheer number of victims has contributed to many being absent from our memory of the Troubles, left to be mourned by their families and close friends.
It was good, therefore, to have a whole programme devoted to the deaths of Geraldine O'Reilly and Patrick Stanley, two teenage victims of a loyalist no-warning car bomb that exploded in the centre of Belturbet on the evening of December 28, 1972.
In a 2004 report, Mr Justice Barron identified an Enniskillen loyalist, Robert Bridge, as the likely leader of the UDA squad that carried out the attack. Although Bridge was convicted of a sectarian murder, he was never charged with Belturbet.
Significantly, the Belturbet documentary, and its main academic witness, Dr Edward Burke, did not establish state collusion in the bombing.
But it did establish that one British army officer - just one - had turned a blind eye to the loyalist attack on Aghalane Bridge.
Despite that, it was immediately and inaccurately reported in some media that the programme showed that the security forces had prior knowledge of the gang who carried out the attack.
It would be regrettable if a documentary that highlighted one atrocity gave oxygen to Sinn Féin's collusion campaign.
Any attempt to use atrocities like the Belturbet bomb to distract attention from the fact that the Provisional IRA was by far the most prolific killer of civilians must be challenged.
That's because attempts to deflect the burden of moral blame away from the IRA and on to the British state feeds Sinn Féin's continuing campaign to justify the immoral Provisional IRA campaign.
These distractors come under the heading of what Ulster University academic Cillian McGrattan refers to as the "smoke and mirrors methodology of the collusion claim".
Since the statistics show the IRA was responsible for 58pc of the NI deaths, Sinn Féin needs to muddy the waters by inflating the figures for deaths caused by the security forces (10pc), by tying them into collusion with loyalist paramilitaries who killed around 30pc.
In the struggle to establish the truth about who was most to blame for the butchery, apart from Lost Lives, a key text is Liam Kennedy's Who Was Responsible for the Troubles?.
Another is Henry Patterson's Ireland's Violent Frontier, which deals with the Provisional IRA's openly sectarian campaign in the Border areas of Fermanagh.
Patterson quotes a chilling report by two members of the Church of Ireland who visited south Fermanagh in the mid-1980s.
"More than 75 people have been murdered by republican terrorists in Fermanagh since 1971. Only one person has been convicted... no account can communicate the isolation, the danger and the terror in which these people live."
Patterson finds it striking how little retaliation there was in south Fermanagh given the high level of sectarian IRA murders.
In short, we can find some grim consolation in figures that show the appetite for sectarian murder was not equally shared by both sides.
My own belief is that the simple Christian faith of the Protestant small farmers of Fermanagh, working modest farms like our own small farmers, played some part in preventing widespread sectarian massacres.
Down the years, the highpoint of my Christmas trip to Cork was a visit to John Coffey's Uneeda Bookshop in Oliver Plunkett Street, which closed recently.
This year I passed on my cherished Cork visit for many reasons. One of them was that I would miss my chats with John Coffey, a man who once carried a motorbike to the top of Carrauntoohil. Happy Christmas, John. And to you, too, Tadhg O'Leary.