Letters: An Irish Christmas remembered
* On December 1 every year, there would be another trimming added to the rosary.
We waited, my three sisters and I, to see if mother would forget, but no: as we knelt on the cement kitchen floor, and when all the other trimmings were said, she would begin: "Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight in the stable in Bethlehem in piercing cold. At that same hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayers and grant my petitions. Amen."
We loved that little prayer, which became known as the "Hail and Blessed" novena. If any one of us had occasion to stay away from home overnight in the 24 days preceding Christmas, we were immediately asked on our return if we had remember to say our "Hail and Blesseds".