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Holiday party hopscotch

Hubby and I did stay up till midnight to see the New Year in. We switched channels from the Times Square celebration to Boston’s celebration. We had some coffee about 9 p.m. but still had trouble staying awake until midnight. Hubby didn’t even bother to go to the fridge in the cellar to get a bottle of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice. We are getting to be such duds. I remember the years that we attended midnight Mass in at Arch St. This year, we attended the 8:30 a.m. Christmas Mass with daughter Sue at St. Ann’s. As we entered the church, we were delighted to see Sr. Teresa, who resides in St. Ann’s Convent. She was just about to go up to the choir loft to sing during the Mass. I was so happy to have the chance to wish her a Merry Christmas in person.
At the beginning of December, Hubby and I received an invitation from the Fields Corner Community Development Corporation, asking us to join the group at their annual Holiday Party on Tues., Dec. 15. I recognized the writing on the envelope as belonging to our friend Barry Mullen. I am sure that Barry picked out the beautiful Christmas tree that graced the front of the invitation. It was, indeed, picture-perfect. I put the date on our calendar because we always enjoy going to this party.
Just before 6 p.m. on Dec. 15, we enter the FCCDC’s office on Arcadia St. in Fields Corner. It was very cold outside but nice and warm inside. The offices were decorated in fine Christmas fashion. I recognized the stuffed figures from the “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” cartoon on TV in one of the rooms. (Barry has all the characters except the Abominable Snow Monster from the North.) Barry welcomed us as we entered. Donna Finnegan, the Executive Director of the FCCDC, was in one of the other offices and came out to see us. Donna’s husband Tom was also present. Tom and I spoke for a few minutes about the unexpected death of our neighbor Gerald “Rip” Leary. Barry then invited us to go and check out the buffet that he had arranged. There was turkey and ham. I zeroed in on the fruit platter, especially the very tasty pineapple. There was also a vegetable platter and a salad. There was quite an array of desserts. Hubby split one of his Italian cookies with me. (I was trying to be good, knowing that I would be eating more calorie-ladened food with Christmas 10 days away.)
Besides Executive Director Donna, the President of the FCCDC Ellen Mason attended the party. So did Treasurer Steve Sousa. There were quite a few Board Members in attendance: Matt Thompson, Maria Pena, Joe Rucker, our friend John Walsh, Dianne McBride also a good friend, and Mike Cote, president of the Clam Point Civic Association. Members of the Ditson St. Board were also there: John J. King, Gwen Davis, Geneva Ramos, Vivien Girard, and Debbi Sousa, Steve’s wife.
We had a great time chatting with Carl Payne and his wife Joyce, who were sitting across from us. (Joyce and I spoke about shopping and good places to shop.) Capt. Richard Sexton, commander of District C-11, and Sgt. John Daly came in for a few minutes to wish us all a very Merry Christmas. I had a chance to speak with Kevin Barry when he came into the party. I also spoke with Vivien Girard, whom I had met previously. What an enjoyable evening! As I told Barry in an e-mail, Hubby and I always leave the party with a smile on our faces.
I have a lovely memento from the party. It is a wonderful photo of Barry and Kevin’s new dog “Magic,” dressed in his red “jacket,” sitting on Santa’s lap, with his owners, Barry and Kevin in their Santa hats on either side of Santa’s chair. “Magic” is a beautiful dog. Some day I will come up to see him in person.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Eileen Collins, the president of St. Brendan’s Seniors, invited us to join the group at their annual Christmas celebration. The party was held in Fr. Lane Hall at St. Brendan’s. Eileen was busy checking in the members as we entered the hall. She asked us to sit at the table with John and Caroline Innello, Mary Scarborough and her daughter-in-law Diana, Norma Conley, and Della Melchionda, looking very festive in her red jacket and Santa hat. John and Caroline told us that they would soon be celebrating their 62nd anniversary.
President Eileen then invited the members at each table to go to the buffet. Not only were light and dark meat turkey and stuffing, there was also rao\\oast beef, Hubby’s favorite. There were two kinds of gravy to pour over the meat and mashed potatoes. There were peas and a garden salad. Billy Calapa cooked all the food and also served it with the help of his friend Matt and a few member volunteers. For dessert, we had my favorite, vanilla ice cream with strawberries. We ate heartily.
There were so many friends at this party. Margaret Buckley sat near us, wearing her reindeer antlers. Mae Allix was sitting with Kay Seaberg. Sisters Angie Tesauro and Rosalie Mascioli sat together. Pals Fran O’Keefe, Dolly Farquharson, and Anna Trzcinski were also there. President Eileen’s sister Mary and her husband John Sullivan also joined us at the party. So did our travel companions, Ken and Mary Bruynell. I have the most beautiful photo of Mary Coombs with Diana Scarborough that makes me cry. Mary died suddenly a week after the photo was taken. On Christmas morning, she was sitting at her kitchen table, getting ready to entertain a large group, when she passed away. Her unexpected death shocked all of us.
I did get a chance to speak with St. Brendan’s parish secretary, Nancy Leoncini. I always enjoy chatting with her. St. Brendan’s pastor, Fr. John Connolly, also joined us at the celebration. Our friend from the Boston Pops Concert, Maureen Reedy, was there as was the treasurer of St. Brendan’s Seniors, Betty Cook. Sis Keeley was at the party with her pal Barbara Sullivan. City Councillor Maureen Fenney and her aide Connie Sullivan came to each member and gave us a ornament for our tree. They both wished us a Merry Christmas.
When I saw the number of prizes at the gift tables, I was stunned. Some were given out by ticket numbers. Some others were given out by chances that had to be purchased. Hubby and I both received WalMart Gift cards. On the purchased raffle tickets, I won a large loaf of Irish raisin bread. It was wonderful. I asked Eileen who made the delicious bread. She said that the mother of Dan Cullinane, Martha Coakley’s aide, made the bread, I chose the one with carroway seeds; my table mate, Caroline Innello, was fortunate to win the one without seeds. Our bread was so big that it lasted almost a week even after we had given away some pieces of it. I understand that Caroline shared her Irish bread with others also. President Eileen wanted to thank Della Melchionda for collecting most of the prizes. She also would like to thank the many businesses in the Cedar Grove area for being so generous to St. Brendan’s Seniors.
I was sorry to read of the unexpected death of Mary Coombs on Christmas Day. I vividly remember how eloquently Mary spoke at the 60th anniversary celebration of Ken and Mary Bruynell. Mary was their Maid of Honor and told stories of their large circle of single friends after World War II and how Ken and Mary had met in the group. I send my sympathy to her children Mike, Richard, Joseph, and Steven. An unexpected death is very sad, especially when it happens on Christmas.
I was also saddened to read of the death of long-time friend and neighbor Paul Hayward on Dec. 29, at age 83. I looked forward to seeing Paul, looking wonderful in his red jacket, at the K Club’s Christmas parties with his wife Ann, in her beautiful red dress. Paul always decorated his home on Neponset Ave. so nicely for the Christmas holiday. I send my sympathy to his wife of 58 years, Ann, and to their children: Margaret, Paul Jr., Thomas, Marie, Regina, Thomas, and twins Susan and Sally. Paul was also the father of the late John. In addition to his family and many friends, I am sure that the members of the K Club will also miss him.
I laughed at this toast given by comedian Joey Adams: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”