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Ring out the false; ring in the true

“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going; let him go;
Ring out the false; ring in the true.”
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Hubby and I are always delighted that we made it to the new year. This New Year’s Eve, we celebrated by drinking decaf coffee and eating popcorn. We would call that a very quiet New Year’s. Hubby did put a little money out on the porch just before midnight and brought it back inside the house just after midnight.

This year, we ran out of time and put up just a little artificial tree at Christmas. Hubby didn’t use any ornaments but he did put on four small sets of battery-operated lights that twinkle. It really is very pretty to see. In the markdowns, he purchased some additional battery-operated lights in case the ones on the tree fail after spending the summer in our hot attic.

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Years ago, gardening expert Paul Parent gave us the history of the Christmas tree. The tree first appeared in Germany in the early 15th century. It could only be eight footsteps long, about 4 or 4 and 1/2 feet long. The first trees were decorated with sugar cookies, pine cones, and candy. President Franklin Pierce, in the 1850s, was the first to bring a Christmas tree into the White House. Teddy Roosevelt, being ecologically minded, banned the Christmas tree from the White House in 1900. In 1901, however, he discovered that his sons Archie and Quentin has smuggled a tree into the White House and had hidden it in a huge closet. Tinsel, fashioned after military uniform tassels, was introduced in 1878. In 1960, our government banned this type of tinsel because it had lead in it. F.W. Woolworth, on a trip to Germany, saw that the Germans had decorated their trees with ornaments made of glass. When he came back to America, he asked Bill Thompson of Corning Glass to fashion glass balls or ornaments similar to those in Germany. In the 1930s, FDR’s children started a Christmas tree farm on the family’s land in Hyde Park, in upstate New York, to replace some of the trees being cut down each year during the Christmas season.

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What a wonderful time we had at the Dorchester Board of Trade’s Christmas Party, held at Phillips Old Colony House. When we entered, we were greeted by Board Treasurer (Mount Washington Bank’s) Dianne McBride and her friend Amy Cardinale. Board President Charles Hollins, of Bay Cove, also welcomed us. Pals Loretta Philbrick, Ginny Biagiotti, and Mary Shea asked us to sit with them. Also at the table were Eascare’s George Gilpin and members of his staff, Ryan Whitcomb and Robert MacLennan, who is the human resources director. We were happy to meet George Gilpin’s lovely wife Mary. I asked them to tell me all about their terrific granddaughter Emma Grace Gilpin, who will be three in February. We also had a chance to chat with our long-time friend Joe O’Brien. We first met Joe when he worked at BC High and helped Nancy Harrington and me with the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association’s annual High School Information Day. We reconnected when he had an apartment in our friend Irma’s home when she was my roommate at the Bostonian Rehab Center. I was so happy to see him once again.

I must mention the wonderful food at the party. We had a complete dinner, which is not the usual fare at Christmas parties. We commented to pal Donna Finnegan how excellent the food was. We were amazed at how many toys were under the Christmas tree. Many young children must have been pleased, thanks to the kindness of Board members. It was a wonderful evening, for such a good cause.

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On Christmas Eve, we were happy to spend time at the home of cousins Margie and Janet. Their brother/my cousin Bob was there also. Almost all of Bob’s “kids” were there. His son Kevin was there with his wife Dara, and their boys Ryan and Adam. Daughter Lisa, her husband Harry, with their kids Danny and Katie were there. Katie was telling us about her long trip home from her college in Virginia. Bob’s son Donald, his wife Tara, and their girls Elizabeth and Christine were there, all dressed up. Bob’s daughter Lynda, her husband Mike, and their boys Mick and Rory were not there because they were getting ready to have all the family at their home on Christmas Day. Bob’s son David, a major in the Army, was there with his daughter Olivia, who looked adorable in a red dress and Mary Jane shoes. We were all so happy that David was on leave. His wife Courtney, also a major, is stationed in Afghanistan. Everyone at the house was able to speak with her on Christmas Eve, thanks to Skype.

Our son-in-law David came in with the World’s Greatest Grandchildren, Brendan and Erin. Daughter Jeanne had a terrible cold and stayed home so that she could sleep and, hopefully, feel better for Christmas Day. Son Paul and daughter-in-law Alex also joined us. We all had plenty to eat at Margie and Janet’s, as always. There were meatballs, ziti, a meat and cheese platter, a spiral-cut ham, all kinds of drinks, desserts, and hot coffee. We went home well fed.

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On Christmas, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I drove to Norwell, to cousins Carolyn and Rock’s home. They had kindly invited us to spend Christmas with them. Their tree looked gorgeous with all the Irish ornaments on it. Carolyn also has some lovely ornaments with cardinals on them. Their cats, “Kittery” and “Sanford,” were prowling around the first floor, checking out all the bags that we brought. Carolyn told us that her niece Laura, daughter of our late cousins Nancy and Bob, had called earlier in the morning to chat from her home in Switzerland.

Cousin Rock was checking the food cooking on the stove and in the oven. (He is a great cook!) His daughter Katie was cleaning the pots, pans, and dishes that Rock had used to prepare the food. He had already made sausages and hot dogs in a sauce. He also made some stuffed mushrooms. Sue, I must confess, does not like mushrooms but she ate the stuffing out of several on them.

In came cousin Richard, followed by cousin Diane and their daughter Julianna, with her boyfriend Raymond. Juli was telling us about her school, Boston Latin. She and Mom Diane have already been checking out colleges rather than waiting for her senior year. In came our daughter Jeanne, son-in-law David, and the World’s Greatest Grandchildren. Jeanne gone to bed early on Christmas Eve and felt much better, well enough to attend the Christmas Day festivities at Carolyn and Rock’s home.

I watched as Carolyn and Rock put the food on the table. There was a spiral-cut ham (hickory-smoked), along with rolls, “smashed” Red Bliss potatoes (mashed down slightly and cooked a little more), and broccoli in a cheese sauce. Rock even made carrots for me because I am supposed to avoid dark green veggies. For dessert, he made Tiramisu. I had never tasted that before so he told me that it contained eggs, lady fingers, and chocolate. The little bit that I took tasted great. He also made a “half-mile-high” apple pie. Sue had made her chocolate pudding pie, with mint-flavored sprinkles on the whipped cream topping. Carolyn gave us lots of food to take home with us. Hubby had the ham both for dinner and even for breakfast with scrambled eggs. During the holiday week. Hubby took lots of photos. We watched the weekend ads and saw that Walgreen’s was offering prints at 9¢ each. We had 394 prints made from all the parties that we had attended for Christmas. We will send them to the people in the photos.

I must also mention that we had Thanksgiving at cousins Carolyn and Rock’s home also. Rock reminded me of the dinner we had that day. He had cooked the turkey Dave Maynard’s way, with the breast-side down for one and one half hours, and then turned over for the rest of the baking. The stuffing was made with sausages. He had a green-bean casserole, squash, and mashed potatoes made with butter and cream. He also made meatballs as hors d’oeuvres. He had made an apple and a pumpkin pie, with pumpkin ice cream. The ice cream was tasty. We will get back to eating more sensibly this month after indulging on all these tasty foods.

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Last Thursday, Hubby and I were at Carney Hospital because I had to have a blood test for my next visit to Dr. O’Keefe in January. When we entered the hospital’s lobby, I heard someone say, “Thank you, Barbara.” It was Bob Angland, who mans the reception desk. He liked the fact that I wrote that he was very personable in last week’s column in The Reporter. Well, his coworkers have told me that he has been unbearable to work with since the article. I know for a fact that he autographed a bunch of newspapers and wrote on the paper, “Page 12.” Hubby and I did nothing but laugh as we bantered back and forth with Bob and his co-workers.

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If you like to watch the Celtics, be sure that you watch the game tomorrow night (Fri., Jan. 6). My granddaughter Erin is to be honored by the Celtics for saving three people from a riptide in early September. I hope that the ceremony will be shown on TV. She deserves the honor.

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We have already begun to clean for the new year. I found a bag of catalogs that came just before Christmas last year. Out they went into the recycling bin. We had so much in our recycling bin last week that we put the overflow into daughter Sue’s. There is an old saying, perfect for this time of year: “End the old year square with every man.”