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Warming the winter months

“Some, not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.”
“The Joy of Giving” by John Greenleaf Whittier

There are so many adorable things with a Christmas theme. After reading the Sunday ads, we dash from store to store to get the appropriate gift for a family member. We should stop, however, and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. We should remember that instead of buying an extra gift for a family member, we should put the money in our church’s collection basket. (Churches are hard-pressed with many requests from their needy parishioners during the winter.) As you receive new gloves, mittens, scarves, and hats, why not bring the still-usable older ones to church where they may be distributed to those less fortunate. You probably have old jackets, coats, and sweaters in the attic that you haven’t worn in several years. They could keep some people warm.

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We finally know of a radio station that is playing Christmas music 24 hours per day. It is 106.7 FM, WMJX, called “Magic.” The versions of the Christmas songs may be a little mod for some, but we heard the Manheim Steamroller’s version of “Deck the Halls” the other evening and were delighted.

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It is a shame that there were not more people at the Nov./Dec. Pope’s Hill meeting because it was a very informative one. Vice President John Schneiderman conducted the meeting since President Phil Carver was unable to attend. John prided himself on getting the sound system to work. (It can be tricky.) John’s lovely wife Janice accompanied him. We were sorry that none of the Community Service officers from District C-11 were at the meeting. They had a very good reason for not being there. They undoubtedly were in Bridgewater that evening to attend the wake of their retired colleague, Officer Paul Johnston.

We recognized the first speaker of the evening, James Maltz, a chartered financial consultant who speaks before many Boston senior groups, even at hospitals and councils on aging. He gave out a very informative flyer that listed the documents that everyone should have: a will, a living will, a health-care proxy, a durable power of attorney, and a letter of instruction. The second set of documents to consider are: revocable living trust, a credit shelter trust, a charitable remainder trust, supplemental (special) needs trust, pre-paid funeral planning, and end-of-life planning. The third set of planning should be safeguarding assets from: health issues, catastrophic illness, nursing homes, and death.

Finally, Jim gave us the reasons that people don’t plan. There were seven. (1) They want to avoid conflict. (2) They are afraid of the cost. (3) They will need money in the future. (4) They don’t want to lose control of their assets. (5) They are afraid of tax problems. (6) They don’t want to acknowledge illness. (7) They aren’t sure if their advisor is trustworthy. Jim, who was very interesting and very informative, told us several times that he is not a lawyer. Before the meeting ended, the vice president asked that members welcome home Richard King from the service. We gave him a standing ovation. The next regular monthly meeting will be held on Wed., Jan. 23.

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I love two commercials that are currently being played on TV. Don’t you just love the one of the witch having a ball as she flies all around a broom factory? I don’t remember what the commercial was for, but the witch on the broom is hilarious. The other commercial I love is an old one with the Hershey Kisses wrapped in Christmas-colored foil. They sound like hand-held bells playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Both of these make me stop what I am doing and look at the TV.

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I was so glad that Hubby and I were able to attend the funeral Mass for our long-time friend, Dorothy “Dot” Philbrick. Fr. John Connolly, pastor of St. Brendan’s, concelebrated the Mass with the Irish chaplain, Fr. John McCarthy. The Mass was well-attended for a weekday. Susan Allen and John Scannell did a beautiful job with the readings. Dot’s daughter Loretta asked Fr. Connolly to read thoughts on her Mom:
“Dot–Mom–Nana-Friend
She was a VERY special Lady.”

“Dot had a mind of her own and was way ahead of her time, even at an early age. In kindergarten, she was listed as Gertrude Driscoll but she refused to answer to that. She told her teacher that her name was Dorothy and she has been Dorothy or Dot ever since. As the oldest of 11 children, many of the family needs fell to her to do. She had to go to the Ice House in the summer, with a cart whose wheels were falling off, to pick up some ice to cool the food in the icebox. In winter, it was to the Coal House for heat. As a teen-ager, she set style, getting one of the first ever “Bob” cuts, wearing the highest-heeled shoes she could find, and always coordinating her accessories. As a homemaker, she utilized her cooking school talents, making macaroni & cheese and serving it to her very macho, furniture-mover Father for lunch. It was definitely not his favorite. He said he wouldn’t dare not eat it or he knew he would be wearing it.

“Finding herself a young widow without any income, she quickly realized she had to work to earn money. She found a switchboard operator’s school and graduated from it. On the first day of her being interviewed, she landed three job offers. She accepted a position at a prominent Boston law firm. She stayed almost 30 years, long after normal retirement. She then learned to play Bingo and joined several clubs, serving as Treasurer of one. She was an avid reader and always kept busy with knitting or crocheting until she lost her eyesight.
She had seen many changes in her lifetime: electricity, indoor plumbing, central heat, washing machines, dishwashers, talkies at the movies, TV, automobiles, packaged food such as bread, baby food, and bottled soda, airplanes, telephones, women gaining the right to vote, Social Security, the Space Program, and many more.

“A wonderful cook, she was always ready to share recipes with anyone who was interested. Her chicken salad was legendary. (I totally agree.) She loved spending time with her friends and her family, especially her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and her great-great grandson. She was loving, warm, friendly, and kind, and loved to sing, laugh, to tell stories, and, of course, to hear Mass on TV. She will be missed. We know that she will continue to watch over all of us.”
By the time Fr. Connolly finished with these remembrances, there were tears in many people’s eyes. Dot was a special lady! By the way, Loretta would like to thank Paul O’Connor and the staff of the O’Connor and Son Funeral Home for their kindness to the family in settling the arrangements for Dot’s funeral.

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I hope that you saw the “Whatever Happened to ‘Baby Peggy’” special on Turner Classic Movie Channel the other evening. Hubby and I were fascinated by the special because Baby Peggy began appearing in silent (short) movies in the early 1920s when she was just 18 months old. She made millions of dollars ($20 million in 2012 accounting), but the money was stolen, squandered, or lost in the stock market. When talkies came out, she and her mother returned to Hollywood as extras after working vaudeville. It was amazing to see this woman, who is now 94, as she told her amazing story. By the way, both Hubby and I thought that Baby Peggy looked very much like the actress Jane Withers.
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On Wed., Dec. 5, Hubby, and I drove to Carney for the tri-monthly Senior Supper, We made sure that we had a parking spot in the parking area in front of the hospital. At the last supper, Hubby was forced to park on Dorchester Avenue and received a $25 ticket for parking there a few minutes more than two hours. When we came in, pal Kathleen Killeen and her co-worker, Bernice McNeil, were seated at the sign-in desk and welcomed us. Our friend Margaret Buckley was already at our usual table. Her pal Joyce arrived within a few minutes. Pal Eileen Burke arrived on her heels with her sister Lorraine Greer and sat with us. Our pals Gilda Groves, Mary “Sis” Keeley, and Barbara Sullivan were seated at the adjoining table. All of us admired the new tables and chairs in the cafeteria.

Barbara Couzens, from Carney, welcomed all of us to the supper. She introduced Sr. Paula Tinlin, who said a “Christmas Season Prayer” and asked us to answer each petition with, “Be born in us this Christmas season.” We were delighted to see that a spokesperson for Steward, Mary Richardson, was at the supper. I told Mary that I had met her at the Valentine’s Day Heart luncheon at Carney almost two years ago, with Dr. Paul Boinay as guest speaker. Mary came around to each table to ask that we fill out a questionnaire from Steward that asked what issues we would like discussed at the suppers. She mentioned that her friend and former co-worker, Chet Curtis, was having health problems. “He’s a lovely man,” she told us. There will be more about Carney’s Senior Supper in next week’s paper.

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Here is a timely Japanese proverb: “One kind word can warm three winter months.”