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Resolved: Cleaning house tops the list

“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 were watching TV at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I love seeing the Waterford Ball that descends down the pole in Times Square to show that the new year has begun. The crystals are shaped like triangles. Waterford Crystal is so beautiful. It was strange not to see Dick Clark on the telecast. He played host to the arrival of many new years over the decades, but passed away, at the age of 82, last April 18, from a massive heart attack.

I, of course, made several New Year’s resolutions. I must sit down with stacks of photos and send them to the people who are in them. I also hope to clean one small area of the house each day until I arrive back at the first area. Other years, when I made this same resolution, I did well until it got too warm. I must finish my Christmas cards although I will now be sending out New Year’s cards. (I have a good supply of them from other years.)
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I was sorry when I heard of the death of Charles Durning on Dec. 24. When I saw him in one of my most enjoyable movies, “Tootsie,” he became one of my favorite stars. I loved that movie and loved the part he played. I then saw him in a made-for-TV movie, “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom,” with Maureen Stapleton, in which he played a very endearing part that made him even more special to me. I loved to watch him dance. I learned, from his obit, that he had been a dance instructor. As I read his obituary, I was amazed at his war record: one Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. He was the only soldier in his unit to survive D-Day. I will smile each time I see him in “Tootsie” and will have the tissues ready when I see him in “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.” We must get the DVD of that movie.
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Over last weekend, we happened to come upon the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (1995), with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. With a showing of three hours on Friday evening, and an additional three hours on Saturday, we saw more background info about the story that was given in the Keira Knightley version. I must admit, however, I enjoyed the 2005 version with Keira and Matthew MacFadyen more than the earlier BBC version. I was amazed at the number of “Visit Ireland” commercials that were shown on both evenings during “Pride and Prejudice.” The Ireland Tourism Board is making a big push to attract Americans to tour Ireland this year.
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As I mentioned before, Fr. George had an open house for those who help at St. Christopher’s from 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 16 in the lower church. I finally had a chance to chat with Dorothy Harris, who cooked and prepared much of the food for the afternoon. The buffet included stuffed mushrooms, Swedish meatballs, pigs in a blanket, spinach dip, seven-layer dip, veggie dip, fruit, cheesecake, truffles made with Cool Whip, cream cheese, cheese and crackers, and punch. Fr. George went around the hall and thanked each of us for volunteering. He gave each family a bell to hang on a doorknob. Sr. Elizabeth, who is the director of the Notre Dame Montessori School located in the lower floor of the church, was having a great time speaking with everyone.
I must mention that our friend Dorothy, from church, made up 80 bags of goodies for the children attending the Christmas Eve pageant and Mass at the church. She also told me that she made sure that each of the kids received Little Debbie’s Christmas Tree-shaped cake to eat as they participated in the Christmas Eve festivities.
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Hubby and I attended the four p.m. Mass at St. Mark’s Parish on Christmas Eve. (Daughter Sue had a terrible cold and fever and stayed home.) We finally found a parking spot on Dot. Ave. As we walked toward the church, my friend and former co-worker, Doug Hurley, caught up with us. He told us that we especially should watch the Angel Gabriel because that was his daughter Morgan. (She was wonderful, Doug!) When we entered the church, we were amazed at the number of people already seated at 3:45 p.m. By 4 p.m., the church was filled. There was standing room only.
When we turned to see Fr. Dan Finn filing into the main church area, we saw our friend Alan Duffy taking many photos. Alan’s wife, Camilla, told me that their granddaughter Maeve received an American Girl doll, from Santa, complete with hearing aids, just like Maeve’s. She is thrilled with her doll. The Mass itself was wonderful, with the CCD children playing the roles in the Christmas Pageant. As everyone filed out of church, I did get a chance to wave to Fr. Finn. Once outside, we saw him with all the children from the pageant, singing Christmas carols for those leaving the church.
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Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I were fortunate to be invited to the City of Boston’s New Year’s Eve Party for Seniors. We thank Marybeth Kelley and the staff of Boston’s Elderly Commission for inviting us. We drove to the Keystone Apts., where we met the rest of those who would be going with us on a school bus to the Seaport Hotel’s large hall. Our bus driver was wonderful, She knew the less-traveled roads and we were at the waterfront in no time. We came at a good time. It was a terribly rainy day but we did not have to stand in the rain at all. We went right into hall.
We saw Eileen Collins, who invited us to join her at her table. Also sitting with us were Evie Dunne, Phyllis Hartford, Marie Schallmo, Marilyn Ferrara, Peggy Ann Canty, Eleanor Espinola, Dorothy Coulombre, and Carol Murphy. (I must tell Carol that my Irish grandmother was named Mary Murphy, so we must be related.) Senior worker Jane Boyer welcomed us as soon as we sat. Each seat at the table had a blue plastic hat and a colored horn. At noon, we welcomed in the Year 2013 with a great deal of noise from the horns. Boston’s First Lady, Angela Menino, welcomed us all at the microphone. She told us that the mayor was sorry that he could not attend the New Year’s celebration. Then we all sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. Mayor,” who was celebrating his 70th birthday that day. By the way, we 3,000 seniors sang it very loudly so that he might be able to hear it at the Parkman House, where he is convalescing.
The young volunteers were wearing colored t-shirts. The color showed which area they were taking care of. (Our young people were wearing pink.) Then the food came out. First, we each received a roll and butter, plus a bottle of water. Then it was the main meal: slices of scrumptious turkey wrapped around a ball of delicious stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and peas and carrots. For dessert we each had a Peggy Lawton Brownie. After the tables were cleaned, dancers filled the floor. Our friend Eileen O’Connor, who is the Elderly Commission’s ace photographer, came around to all the tables, taking photos. She even took one of Hubby and me. Elderly Commissioner Emily Shea also went to all the tables, making sure that all of us enjoyed our meal. Several City Councillors, Bill Linehan, Rob Consalvo, and Tito Jackson, made their way through the large number of tables. Our friend Dorothy Harris came over to our table and told us about the foods she had made for our church’s open house and for the Christmas Eve Pageant. We don’t know how she is able to cook so many items for our church functions. I still have bruised fingers from helping daughter Sue make three batches of potato salad.
When the afternoon ended, we waited as they called out the destinations of the buses outside the hotel. Unfortunately, ours was one of the last to be called. Traffic was not too bad going home at 3:30 p.m. so we were back at Keystone in a short time. The New Year’s Eve Party for Seniors was a lovely diversion on a terribly rainy day.
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Fifty years ago this coming Saturday, Jan. 5, 1963, Hubby, son Paul, daughter Sue, and I moved to our little street in Neponset. For the most part, the neighbors who have moved from us in that half-century’s time have remained friends. Our present neighbors are just wonderful. Friends Jim, his wife Maureen, and our pal Janie shoveled our walkways and sidewalks this past Sunday. When they found out that Hubby was ill and was trying to find a clinic open on Sunday for treatment, they even took the keys to his car, cleaned off the snow, and started the car for him. Neighbors Donna and Alfred cleaned off Sue’s car while she was bringing me home from work in her Dad’s car. God bless all of them for being so kind to us.
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Here is something wonderful that I saw inscribed on a candle that daughter Jeanne had placed in the middle of her kitchen table for Christmas: “Wishing you quiet and peaceful moments to fully enjoy the wonders of this beautiful season and the memories that will warm your heart long after Christmas has passed.”