Home / View from Pope's Hill /

Post- Thanksgiving

“That chill is in the air
Which the wise know well…
This joy, I know
Will soon be under snow.”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

We had a preview of snow last week. The one inch of snow lasted for several days on the grass in our back yard. I think the pansies in the big pot on our front porch might be dead from the cold. The pots of geraniums are bare, except for the stalks. We still don’t have our outside Christmas decorations up because it has been too cold. Hubby went on a quest the week after Thanksgiving. He loves Mrs. Smith’s Mince Pie. Both Stop & Shop and Shaw’s had Mrs. Smith’s pies on sale that week. He went to eight different stores and none had mince. He was disappointed.

You probably are wondering where the rest of the family was on Thanksgiving. For the past two summers, daughter Jeanne has been a camp nurse in New Hampshire for most of the summer. By the time she came home from camp, it was time for her to return to school where she is the school nurse. She never had time for a vacation. She decided that she, her husband David, and their kids, Brendan and Erin (the World’s Greatest Grandchildren), would take advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend and go to New Hampshire for a few days. They found a very reasonable place along the Kangamangus Highway. They went hiking while in New Hampshire. (I pleaded with her to stay on the designated trails and to keep her cell phone fully charged after hearing other hikers’ horror stories.) Jeanne even cooked a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday because there was a kitchen in the condo where they were staying. Son Paul’s father-in-law Earl had hip-surgery and was still in rehab over Thanksgiving. Daughter-in-law Alex took her Mom Sara to the rehab facility and they stayed with Earl most of the day. We all wish Earl a quick recovery.

While I was looking over the food ads that came to the house through the mail, I happened to see something in the Stop & Shop ad that caught my eye. In addition to the complete turkey dinner for bigger families, the company offered a dinner for two for $20. I figured that, with a few more vegetables, the meal should do Hubby, daughter Sue, and me for the Thanksgiving weekend. Hubby went and ordered the small dinner and was told to pick it up at noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He brought the food home and put it in the refrigerator down cellar. I didn’t see the dinner until he brought it upstairs on the Friday after the holiday. As we looked over the food, we figure that the meat was half of a small turkey breast, plenty of meat with the food that cousin Carolyn had given us. There was also mashed potato, squash, stuffing, gravy, and an apple pie. There was very little cooking. The food lasted us all weekend. What a great deal! By the way, son Paul went to his local Stop & Shop on Friday and asked if he could still take advantage of the small meal. The employee gave him exactly the food that we had purchased so Paul and his wife Alex had the small turkey meal for the weekend also. The small meal is also being offered this Christmas.

I must confess that I got very little done over the Dec. 5 to 7 weekend. Hubby and I were looking forward to seeing the last episode of the TV show “Monk” on Fri., Dec. 5. We had seen Part 1 of the final show the previous week and that show was repeated just before the final part, refreshing our memories. Hubby and I were just two of the 9.4 million people who tuned in that last evening. I will not give away the ending, which I thought was terrific. If you’ve watched the program at all, see if you can catch these final episodes. One of my friends called at 10 p.m. on Friday and thought the ending was perfect. We found out who ordered the death of Monk’s wife Trudy in a car bombing 12 years earlier.

Also that weekend, Channels 2, 11, and 44 had some wonderful programming. We first saw “Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart.” There were two new women on this program from the last ones that we had seen. Both had a beautiful voices and fit into the program very nicely. I loved the scenery. The show was taped at the Powerscourt House and Gardens, Enniskerry, County Wicklow. The house provided the background for the stage and looked magnificent as the sun set over the large number of people assembled in the audience. The lone piper on top of the house was impressive. So were the other pipers as they paraded around the stage, playing their bagpipes. (My one-eighth Scottish blood causes me to love bagpipe music.)

Also on the PBS channels that weekend was a new Andre Rieu Show from Dresden, which featured a real newly-married couple. The couple was brought to the Dresden Opera House in a horse-drawn coach. They entered the main hall and were given two seats right in the middle of the front row. Andre included the couple in much of the evening’s festivities. He also brought 40 of Dresden’s debutantes to the show. They danced on the upper stage with their escorts while the wedding couple danced on the floor of the auditorium. All the while, Andre and his Johann Strauss Orchestra were playing wonderful waltz music. It was a magnificent sight.

At one point, Andre told his audience that he knew Dresden was noted for its porcelain china. He went to a china store to get the bridal couple a gift. The store was stocked with magnificent pieces of porcelain china. Then the program returned to Andre on stage. He told the bride and groom that he had bought two pieces of Dresden porcelain for them. Out came two women dressed in clothing that looked as if it had been made of porcelain. The women pretended they were porcelain dolls, moving with baby steps. All the while, they were singing beautifully with their soprano voices. They received a big ovation at the end of their song. I checked on the Dresden Opera House in Google and discovered that it had been destroyed in 1945. It reopened in 1985, using most of the original design. It is a beautiful concert hall!

The final program that kept me from getting much done that weekend was the “Andrea Bocelli Christmas Show.” (He has such a magnificent voice.) He shared the stage with his guests Natalie Cole and Reba McEntire. I especially enjoyed the segment where Andrea sang with the Muppets, especially Miss Piggy. We even managed to switch back and forth to the Patriots’ game, sad as that was at the end. What a weekend of TV programming!

On Sat. evening, Nov. 28, I received a call from my cousin Bill, who told me that his wife Michelle has passed away from swine flu earlier that day. She was just 35 years old. I was too stunned to ask any questions. He told me he would e-mail daughter Sue when he could make plans for the burial. The next day I had problems with my racing heart. Most likely it was because of Michelle’s death. It was a terrible shock to us all. I found out later that Michelle had gone to the hospital but was sent home with medication after being diagnosed with swine flu. She then developed pneumonia. She already had some health problems and couldn’t survive both the swine flu and the pneumonia.

An autopsy had to be performed so Bill wasn’t able to make the funeral arrangements until the middle of the following week. Although Michelle and Bill lived in Lowell, with her children Brandon and Michaela, Bill had the wake and funeral held in her former home town, Medford. The Mass was said at St. Joseph Church. Bill gave a wonderful eulogy for Michelle at the beginning of Mass. Daughter Sue was asked to do one of the readings. Burial was held in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Randolph. One nice thing about the burial: Fr. Ron Coyne, who is assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in Randolph, conducted the service at the graveside. I haven’t seen him in such a long time. It was wonderful to see him.
Following the graveside service, which was conducted in 70-degree weather, we were all invited to the K of C building right near the cemetery. Bill’s sister Mary is a wonderful cook, having been professionally trained. She made all the food (chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, ham and cheese, and roast beef sandwiches, all individually wrapped; macaroni salad, tossed salad, potato salad; bags of potato chips, coffee, water, and all kinds of desserts) that was served to at least 50 of us. Mary’s husband Chuck helped her put out all the food. It was an amazing spread. We sat with cousin Phil and cousin Kathy and her husband Jim. Even Bill came over and sat with us for a while. Mary and Chuck stopped serving the food for a couple of minutes and came over to our table. I send the sympathy of all our family to Michelle’s husband, my cousin Bill, to her children, Brandon Skillman and Michaela Shread, to her parents Gordon and Grayce Skillman, and to her brothers Craig and Brad Skillman. She was also the mother of the late Joseph William Good. If you are eligible for the swine flu vaccine, be sure that you get it. Tragedies like this can happen.

Here is a very apropos thought by Alexander Smith, with the holiday fast approaching: “Christmas is the day that holds time together.”