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Thanksgiving

“Wind has shaken autumn down,
Left it sprawling on the ground.
Shawling all in gold below,
Waiting for the hush of snow.”
“Wind Has Shaken Autumn Down”
By Tony Johnston

Our yard was filled with leaves last week but now it is clean.
It took our neighbor Phil and his crew about 11 yard-waste bags to take all the leaves from our yard. They did daughter Sue’s yard, also. Our geraniums, pansies, and sunflowers have still survived the bad weather. We don’t have any outside Christmas decorations up as yet because it has been too cold to work outside. I have bought two boxes of Irish Christmas cards. One looks like the cover of the December issue of our sister publication, the Boston Irish Reporter, the candle in the window.

The phone rang about two weeks before Thanksgiving. It was my cousin Carolyn from Norwell. “Would you and the family like to come to Thanksgiving at our house?” I couldn’t kiss her through the phone so I immediately said, “We’d be delighted. What should we bring?” She asked that we bring potato salad and chocolate pudding pie. I told her we’d bring soda, especially diet sodas, and two bottle of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice, one white, one red.

On Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, I cooked a good-sized pot of potatoes, which Hubby took across to daughter Sue’s home when they had cooled. We picked up a few more things to bring to thank Carolyn and her husband Rock for inviting us. We bought two containers of sour cream plus two packages of Knorr’s Leek Soup Mix to make dip to go with two bags of Lay’s low-salt potato chips. (The low-sodium chips are fine with dip.) Hubby’s was thrilled to see poinsettias before Thanksgiving so he bought one for our home and one to bring with us on Thanksgiving. Carolyn loves amaryllis so he also bought her one of those bulbs, ready to plant, complete with pot and planting “soil.” She told me on Thanksgiving that she brought the one we bought her last year into work for all her fellow workers to enjoy.

On Thanksgiving morning, we were up early to get everything ready. I had gone through our magazines and pulled out the ones I thought Carolyn and Rock would enjoy at their Maine cottage. Hubby put in some car magazines for Rock. Sue had made the potato salad and the chocolate pudding pie on Wednesday evening so she didn’t have too much to do on Thanksgiving morning. I put all the items that we were bringing with us by the front door.

We packed the car with soda, grape juice, pie, potato salad, onion dip, chips, and the amaryllis bulb. We took the poinsettia out at the last minute because it can be damaged by cold weather. We figured that it would take about one-half hour to get to Norwell so we left just before 12:30 p.m. Sue passed a CD to her Dad to put in the CD player in the car. The first “song” was Alice’s Restaurant, which runs about 17 minutes. That should take us most of the way to Norwell. How wrong we were! Everyone was on the Expressway. It took us almost 25 minutes just to get to the split where you can go to either to Weymouth or Dedham. Sue took her cell phone and called Carolyn to tell her that we’d be late.

When we arrived at our destination, Carolyn and Rock were busily cooking the meal. The kitchen smelled wonderful. Their daughter Katie and their son “J.R” and his girl Amy were watching a dog show on TV. The dining room table was beautifully set for the feast. The food only needed to be cooked a little longer. We went onto the sun porch to see the family’s two Maine Coon cats. The girl cat, “Kittery,” is gray and white and much smaller than her brother “Sanford,” who is black and white. (Their names are towns in Maine.) The cats have a log play tunnel with holes on the top so they can see out. Hubby took a terrific photo of the boy cat peering out of one of the holes, with just his eyes and part of his nose showing. It was hilarious.
While we were waiting for the food to finish cooking, Carolyn’s niece/my cousin Laura called from Minnesota. She and her husband Jared were driving their sons Elliot and Calvin around to see the many windmills in the area near Jared’s parents’ home, where they were going to spend Thanksgiving Day. We passed the phone to everyone in the house so Laura could chat with everyone.

Very soon the hot foods were done. Rock cooked the turkey Dave Maynard’s way: breast-side down for the first hour. It looked so beautiful that Hubby took a photo of the bird as it cooled on the carving board. He could easily submit the photo to a food magazine. Out came the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnip, the green –bean casserole, and the Portuguese sweet bread. Rock had already made a cherry pie and a half-mile-high apple pie. Sue put her chocolate pudding pie with the other pies. The only thing we had to worry about was the possibility of the cats munching on the food. They were very good while we were eating, much to our relief.

On Nov. 19, after attending the monthly luncheon of the Irish Pastoral Centre at the Irish Cultural Centre, Hubby and I picked up our friend Eileen Burke and headed to the Leahy/Holloran Community Centre to take part in the Senior Spaghetti Supper. When we entered the building, we headed for the cafeteria, which had been set up beautifully with dishes, “silverware,” and a beautiful floral centerpiece on each table. Our friends Eileen Collins, Della Melchionda, and Norma Conley already had a full table and urged us to take the neighboring table.
Then the volunteers from Project DEEP took over. They were wonderful in seeing to our wishes. Anything we wanted was in front of us within a minute or two—coffee, tea, soda, or water. We thank Brenna Galvin, Olivia Baldassari, Lily Galvin, Haley Hayes-Carr, Donny Penella, Brenna McCarthy and Ashley Penella for being so good to us. While we were waiting, a group of Visiting Nurses went around the cafeteria taking the seniors’ blood pressure readings. We thank Kathy Finn, Stacy Larkin, Kathryn Purcell, Kerry McDonough, Paula Skalinski. Ellen Maneikis, and Suzanne McCarthy. I had warned the nurse who took mine that my blood pressure might be elevated because I was so excited at seeing Betty Murray back at work after an extended leave. It actually was fine, thank goodness. Then the students served us delicious salad, spaghetti, meatballs, and rolls.

The piece de resistance for the Senior Supper was a huge cake from Konditor Meister Bakery in Braintree. It was a vanilla and chocolate cake with strawberry cream filling with huge chocolate-covered strawberries all over the top. The Project Deep children brought around pieces of cake to us seniors. I swapped my piece of cake with my friend Eileen’s piece because hers was much smaller than mine. (I was trying to be good.) I was, however, disappointed that I didn’t get a strawberry. To my rescue came Eileen Collins from the next table. “Take my strawberry,” said she. I felt terrible taking hers but she insisted. Within three minutes, she whispered in my ear that someone had given her an another strawberry to replace the one that she gave me. I was happy to hear that.

Each senior was given a backpack filled with first aid items. There was a small, white First Aid Kit. There was a regular-sized flashlight, complete with batteries. There was a small portable radio, also complete with batteries. (It worked beautifully.) There were several packs of hand-wipes. There was a mylar-type blanket to cover an injured person. There was a First Aid booklet to accompany all the items. What a terrific gift! Craig Galvin, the vice president of the Leahy-Holloran Community Center, had been the emcee for most of the evening. The beautiful floral centerpiece was awarded to the person, whose birthday was closest to the supper. My friend Mary Bruynell, knowing how much I love flowers, proceeded to give the flowers to me. They looked just beautiful sitting on my little marble table in the front hall.

I was sorry to read of the death of Nancy (O’Toole) Greene on Nov. 20. Nancy was the wife of the late Robert “Red” Greene, B.F.D. (His statue is near the children’s play area over at Castle Island.) I have known Nancy and her sister Norah Gorski for many years. I send my sympathy to her children Stephen and Sheila, and to her siblings Ed and Patrick O’Toole, Kathleen, and especially to my friend, her sister Norah. I was also sorry to read of the death of Olive Whittemore on Nov. 22. Olive died at the wonderful age of 104 years. I send my sympathy to her son Ralph and his wife, my friend Christine.

St. Brendan’s School still has the “Got Books” container outside the school on the Rita Road side. The container takes used books, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, and audio books. It has been filled 11 times and the school is compensated each time it is filled. Why not clear out some of your old, unused items before you get new items this Christmas.
Here is a perfect thought for this time of year, Advent, by Edna St. Vincent Millay: “Not truth, but faith it is that keeps the world alive.”