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The Holly and the Ivy

“The holly’s up;
the house is all bright.
The tree is ready;
the candles alight.
Rejoice and be glad,
all children tonight.”
“The Holly and the Ivy”
a German Christmas carol
by P. Cornelius (1824-1870)

I’ve fibbed. The holly is not yet around the banister to the second floor, a victim of the many Christmas parties and of Christmas cards needing to be written. When the kids were little, Hubby would be working additional hours at his second job at Supreme Market in Fields Corner. I would use that time at home with the kids to write all the cards. Gone are those days!


What a nice afternoon Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I had at the Senior Supper at Carney Hospital. The tables in the cafeteria were decorated with red flowers for Christmas. We found our usual table in the corner. Both Matt and Beth, employees of the hospital, said they would be serving us that evening. Our longtime friends Rita Gillespie, Gemma Mariano, and Mary Reilly were already seated. Our pals Fran O’Keefe, Dolly Farquharson, and Carol Murphy then came into the cafeteria. Friends Joe and Ann Mazzone sat at the table next to us. Norm and Rose Carter came over to chat with us before they sat at their table.

Barbara Couzens, from Carney, told those present that this would be a special Christmas Supper because we would be treated to the singing of the Boston City Singers. Pres. Bill Walczak also welcomed us and played his guitar as we sang a few Christmas carols. Before we began to eat, Sr. Paula Tinlin gave her Reflections on Christmas. Because of the date, Dec. 7, Barbara asked that we observe a moment of silence in memory of those who died at Pearl Harbor. Barbara told us that the next Senior Supper would be held on Mar. 14. (Quite a few people took out their 2012 calendars to put the Senior Supper on the March page.) We began with a lovely salad. The main course was then served. Hubby and I loved our chicken; Eileen, her fish. The mashed potatoes were scrumptious. Carrots and green beans rounded out the meal. For dessert, we had delicious pumpkin pie.

Then Director Jane Money brought in a younger group of the Boston City Singers. They looked so cute standing at the side of the cafeteria. Jane invited us to sing along with the children. A couple of their songs were unfamiliar but we seniors sang “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with gusto. Barbara Couzens gave me a list of those who helped put on the Senior Supper. Hubby and I saw that Bob Angland, the very personable man who staffs the front desk in the lobby each weekday, was one of the helpers. So were Erin Casey, Mike Stack, Beth Pollara, Matt Termini, Eileen Maher, Ann Hart, Roy Contreras, Chad Finley, Kathleen Killeen, Mary McGaugh, Keith Colavita, Barry Friedman, and Paula Kowalski.


While we were at the Senior Supper, Ruth Villard came over and invited Hubby and me to the Black Catholic Choir’s Concert at the Keystone Apts. on Tues., Dec. 13. Thank goodness we had no prior commitments that evening so we were there just before the concert started. Ruth came over to welcome us. She urged us to introduce ourselves to the director of the group, Meyer Chambers. The members of the choir were dressed in red tops and black slacks or skirts. I recognized one of the members of the choir, our friend Barbra Trybe. Just after 7 p.m., the group began their singing as Conductor Meyer played his large Yamaha keyboard and sang along with the women. Members of the audience were invited to sing along with the choir. We began with “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas. The second song was one I had never heard, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord.” The next one was also unfamiliar, “Behold Your God.” That was followed by “Calypso Noel.” The next song was familiar, “Caroling, Caroling.” Many joined in when the choir sang “Frosty, the Snowman,” “Go tell It on the Mountain,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The next song was also unfamiliar, “He Came Down.” As we watched the choir and the director, we saw the beautiful Christmas Tree that was set up in the Sawtelle Room. It added a very festive look to the room. The next couple of songs, we seniors knew well: “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.” The next songs were beautiful ones: “My Lord, What a Morning” and “Nativity Carol,” written by Fr. Francis O’Brien. The next was “Adeste Fideles.” The following one had words from “The Messiah”, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” The carol was written by Kenneth Lewis of Washington, DC. The final song was “a doozie,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” We tried to keep up with that song but it was too much to remember the order of the lyrics. When the song finally ended, one of the singers pretended that she had passed out. We all laughed.

After the concert had ended with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” I found Sr. Paula Tinlin, from Carney Hospital, in the large crowd. She introduced me to her friend, Sr. Joyce McMullen. I kidded Sr. Joyce about having a great Irish surname. I then went over to the choir director, Meyer Chambers, as Ruth Villard had asked me to do. Meyer helped me with the names of the carols that I did not know. I asked where he rehearsed the choir. He said, “St. Katherine Drexel Church in Roxbury.” I was shocked. I knew that my cousin Kathy, who lives north of Boston, comes into Boston each Sunday to sing in the choir at that church. I told Meyer that I was Kathy’s cousin. He was as surprised as I was. He told me that Kathy was out ill that evening and wasn’t able to come to the concert. Talk about a small world!


Hubby and I always enjoy receiving our Castle Island Association Newsletter every other month. The most recent one reported that 10,000 people were at the Children’s Magical Halloween Castle on Oct. 24 and 24. That is amazing. The newsletter also mentioned that the bimonthly letter will come out quarterly in 2012 (February, May, August, and November). It mentions that the annual dues will be increased to $10 beginning next October. I quickly checked the names of the more than 200 volunteers who assisted at the Children’s Magical Halloween Halloween Castle at the island. I saw the names of some of our friends: Karen, Bernadette, and Abby Glicken, Dolly Crane, “Wacko” Hurley, Margaret Jenkins, Clare Martin, Eileen O’Connor, Irene Roman, and Ronnie Stanley. I am sure that I would find additional friends if I had more time. The letter also mentions that there was a flag-burning ceremony in the fort at Castle Island on Dec, 7. We missed taking our tattered US flag to that ceremony but there will be another flag-burning ceremony on Thurs., June 14, Flag Day.


I must mention an unusual and frightening thing that happened to us on Sat. evening. About 8:30 p.m., Hubby, daughter Sue, and I were in our new 15-day-old car, driving home from Hubby’s family’s Christmas party. The terrific party was held at his nephew Steve and wife Judi’s home in Attleboro. On Route 95, Hubby and I spotted a small tricycle right in front of our car, a road hazard. Hubby had no chance to turn the wheel when we struck it. We could hear the metal being torn apart under our car. Just a bit farther down the road, we saw a man outside his car with his flashers on, in the breakdown lane. We thought he might have lost the tricycle. There was no way that the man could retrieve the bike so we continued on our way home. Daughter Sue asked that we stop at CVS on Gallivan Blvd. As Hubby turned the wheel to go into the parking lot, we could hear something grinding underneath the car. While Sue was in CVS, Hubby took out his flashlight and examined the car. A big part of the new white front car bumper was gone and the mud flaps were hanging down. He was devastated.

We dropped Sue at home. Hubby said, “We must go to the State Police Barracks at Columbia/Koskiusko Circle and report this.” The trooper listened to our story, shaking his head when he heard that our car was only 15 days old. He asked where it happened and immediately call the State Police Barracks in Foxborough and related our story. The trooper there told him that there was so much debris on Route 95 that the road had to be closed so that ALL the toys could be removed. The trooper surmised that a truck carrying toys to charitable locations had lost part of its load. (The only toy that we saw was the tryke.) I tried to make Hubby smile by saying, “We couldn’t have run over a soft toy like Barbie.” When the trooper hung up, he told us to call our insurance company on Monday and ask them to contact the Foxborough Barracks to see if they found the culprit. What a frightening end to a pleasant evening.

I hope that you have most of your Christmas preparations done so that you can enjoy Christmas. We still have some family parties to attend. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from all the McDonough Clan.