Posted by TheYank at 11/16/2009 10:03 AM EST

The Christmas lights are going on all over Ireland now. No, not in people's homes, although the Irish Mail on Sunday carried a report yesterday about a Muslim Iraqi family who love Christmas and put their tree up early, very early, November 3 this year. But, for the most part the Christmas lights being turned on are in the stores, malls, and the main streets of Ireland's towns and cities. No different than America, really.

Although there are few Christmas sights inside people's homes, it's the time of year when people can enjoy some of the smells of Christmas. This weekend my wife made the Christmas cake, Christmas puddings and mince pies, filling our house with an odor that is distinctly Christmas. All that fruit, nuts, flour, whatever, oh, and the alcohol - whiskey in the cake, brandy in the pudding - baking & cooling fills the house with a happy smell.

Even those in this house who don't eat any of the traditional Irish deserts - just for the record I eat 90% of it - like the smell. For some it's just a pleasant smell and for others it's the first sniff of Santa.

Of course, the cake isn't done yet. It's a three act play. Saturday was only the first act - the mixing and baking. Next, in a few weeks, will come the almond icing. Then, nearer the big day,
the white icing and decorations are added. Usually the decorations are left to the youngest, for whom adding sugary Santas, snowmen and wreaths is part of the excitement. Then it just sits there, taunting me until Christmas Day.