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What the winter ushers in....

“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

It really is getting close to Christmas. At our church each of us was given a little Advent Blue Book, with six-minutes of readings and prayers for each day. Some nights I have no problem staying awake to read the prayers. Other nights, my eyes close before I finish the two pages. We have two versions of the Blue Book. The ones with a navy blue cover are in English. Those with a lighter blue cover are in Spanish.

Thanks to the mayor of Boston, Hubby and I have recently been invited to two great events. The first was a very elegant affair, the 31st annual Golden Wedding Anniversary Celebration. Sheila Lawn, from the City’s Office of the Elderly Commission, had called about two months before the event to give us the date. She said that it was going to be an elegant event and to put the date of the celebration (Nov. 30) on our calendar. The day came very quickly. The Senior Shuttle van was at the door at 10:30 that morning. We were delighted to see our friends and neighbors Bob and Ann Kaeneman already in the van. We then picked up Carl and Agnes “Do Do” Nash and John and Caroline Innello. None of us had been invited to the celebration previously. John and Caroline have been married 63 years; Bob and Ann, 62 years; Carl and “Do Do,” 53 years; and Hubby and I, 50 years. Then it was off to Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel.

When we arrived at the hotel, there were Elderly Commission workers all along the way to the floor where the Grand Ballroom is located. We were first ushered into a smaller room where there was a table of hors d’oeuvres. Each couple was asked to go to one of three photographers to have a formal photo taken. Our photographer even posed us with our hands on top of each other, as in a wedding photograph. She took three photos. Then one of the workers came to tell us that the Main Ballroom would be opened in five minutes.

I had forgotten how pretty the Park Plaza’s ballroom was because it has been a long time since I was there. Of course, the Christmas decorations made the ballroom look even more beautiful. The balconies overlooking the main floor were so pretty because they were decorated with huge wreaths. We were fortunate to be assigned to Table I, with John and Caroline. Carl and “Do Do” and Bob and Ann were right near us at Table 8. We also sat with our friend Thelma Burns and her husband Ed from Dorchester and two couples from Charlestown: Laurence and Joan Headle (55 years married) and Wayne and Janet Black (50 years). Janet told me that she had worked for the Elderly Commission for some years. Sheila Lawn welcomed all of us to the celebration.

The meal that we were served was wonderful. We began with minestrone soup, with rolls and butter. We toasted each other with champagne (I think). The main course was a chicken dinner, with mashed potatoes, carrots, and asparagus. We didn’t have to wonder about dessert. A huge wedding cake, made by the wonderful Kondeiter Meister Bakery, was wheeled out on the floor. Jim and Ginny Gorman, who have been married the longest of those attending (64 years), were asked to cut the cake. (John and Caroline missed cutting the cake by one year.) It had a fluffy frosting with pieces of strawberries throughout. It was scrumptious.

Because Mayor Tom Menino was in the hospital, his wife Angela did the honors, visiting every table. She was accompanied by the Elderly Affairs Commissioner Eliza Greenberg, and Sheila Lawn. The Elderly Commission’s photographer, Eileen O’Connor, also accompanied them, taking many photos of those attending. At the end of the afternoon, before we were called to our van to take us home, we were handed a white box, with the gold seal of Boston on the top. We knew it couldn’t be a boxed lunch after the magnificent meal we had just been served. When we got home, we opened the box and found two gold-rimmed champagne flutes. Embossed in gold on the glasses were the words “50th Anniversary Celebration,” “the City of Boston’s Elderly Commission,” and “Mayor Thomas Menino,” plus the City of Boston’s Seal. We will take them out of the china closet on New Year’s Eve. We thank the mayor and Mrs. Menino, Commissioner Eliza Greenberg, Sheila, Eileen, and the rest of the staff of the Elderly Commission for a wonderful 50th Anniversary Celebration that we will never forget.

The second event, thanks to the City of Boston, was being invited to a Phone-a-Thon in City Hall on Fri., Dec. 3. We drove to Keystone where we met Eileen Collins and Mary Scarborough. In a few minutes, a Senior Shuttle van drove up and took us to City Hall. We were sent to the floor where the City Council offices were located. Pat, from Maureen Feeney’s office was busy watering one of her plants. Mary gave Pat a few hints on growing plants. We were given numbers and asked to sit until there were openings in the room where the phones were located.

We had heard that A.T.&T. had kindly allowed Boston seniors to call anywhere in the world for free. Many of the seniors attending the Phone-a-Thon were calling countries in Asia. Hubby called several members of our family in the U.S. and also a couple of old friends, who had long since moved from the Boston area. He also called his nephew in San Diego, who, unfortunately, was at work. I tried to call Kylemore Abbey in Ireland but I got a Voice Mail so I didn’t try again. By the time we got out of the Phone Room, the Elderly Affairs workers had set up luncheon sandwiches for the seniors. Hubby and I took half a sandwich each and two bottles of water.

When we finished eating, we started to walk toward the elevators to go up to the Senior Health Fair on the ninth floor. City Councillor Steve Murphy was near the elevator so we exchanged greetings with him. On the ninth floor, we had a little trouble finding the Health Fair but, as we walked down one hallway, we heard the sounds of many voices. We had found the Health Fair. We had been given a paper telling us what was available for us: cholesterol screenings, glaucoma screenings, blood pressure screenings, dental screenings, the Senior MBTA Pass Program, flu shots, Social Security, Veterans’ Services, and more. Because Hubby and I faithfully go to our doctors and dentist, we bypassed the medical screenings. We headed right for the gals at the MBTA table. Our five-year senior MBTA cards had just expired. The gals gave us temporary cards and said that our new cards would be mailed to us. We had no idea where to go to renew our cards so we were very pleased to apply for new cards at the fair. A lovely gal named Maureen Kelly even explained all the features of The Ride to me.

After we finished walking through the Health Fair, we remembered that there were Craft Fairs on several floors in City Hall. We took the elevator to the Main Floor so that we could watch for our van. There were some beautiful items for sale on this floor. Of course, most of the women gathered at the jewelry tables, me among them. I did succumb to temptation and bought two pieces of jewelry. Hubby visited all the tables and bought two beautiful bookmarks because we are always reading. By the time I paid for my items, our Senior Shuttle van was in the plaza area. Our van driver, a very pleasant gal, took us back to Keystone in record time because there was very little traffic early that afternoon. It was a fun excursion that day.

I was so sorry to read of the unexpected death of John “Jake” McKinnon on July 12. Jake and his wife Fran were our friends and neighbors. (Jake was also the brother of our late friend and neighbor, Fran McKinnon.). We send our belated condolences to Jake’s wife Fran, to his children: Steve, John “Jake,” Michael, Michelle Vanesse, Lori Broughton, and Richard; and to his sister Dorothy Flynn.

Wasn’t it great hearing Gary La Pierre on WBZ last week! Gary seemed to enjoy himself back at the helm of the morning news. Now that he resides most of the time in Florida, however, I am sure he must have minded the cold.

On Sunday afternoon, because we were up so early to go to the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Gregory’s, I thought I would relax for a while in our recliner. I put on the TV and what was on but “Orla Fallon’s Celtic Christmas Special.” Just in case you can’t put the name with the face: Orla is one of the original “Celtic Woman.” Not only does she have a lovely voice, she plays the harp beautifully. The TV program contained mostly the very familiar Christmas songs. She brought in another of the original “Celtic Woman” performers Maeve. (Her last name is a long, Gaelic name.) They performed several songs together and sounded wonderful with their harmony. I saw the program on Ch. 2. Watch it if you come across it.

Since Hubby and I did so many things in the past few weeks, thanks to the City of Boston, I thought you might like to know the City’s motto: “God be with us as He was with our fathers.”