Celebrating Christmas in Dorchester

“Every gift which is given,
Even though it be small,
Is, in reality, great,
If it is given with affection.”
by Pendar

What a lovely time Hubby, Daughter Sue, and I had in the parish hall of St. Ann Church on Dec. 5.  We were there because our friend Sheila Fahey was doing a musical revue called “Christmas Wishes.”  We were delighted to sit with our friends Evie Dunne, Eileen Collins, and Ronnie Stanley.  John Sweeney, who was there with his wife Kathy, came over to chat with us.  He commented that the Boston Teacher’s College luncheon at the Charles River Country Club in November was wonderful.  We certainly agreed with him.  Maureen McKinnon was there with her sister Sheila (Tracey) McElhinney, her sister-in-law, Kathy Coleman, and her fellow PJPIICA teacher Jane Breen.  (Miss Breen had been Daughter Sue’s fourth grade teacher!)  Also attending were my friends Rita Gillespie, Ginny Aveni, Ann Tumilty, Mary Jepsen, Gemma Mariano, Eileen Burke, and Carolyn O’Connor.  Fr. Tom Macdonald, from St. Ann/St. Brendan’s came to the microphone and told us that the proceeds from that night’s show would be given to the Vacation Bible School.  We applauded that statement.  Then our singing quartet took to the stage. 

Sheila Fahey introduced her group: her daughter Jennifer Fahey, Patty O’Connell, and Cathy Fitzpatrick.  Manning the keyboard was Mark Donahue.  The gals began with a rousing “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  Then Sheila shared some of her Christmas memories, many from her childhood home at 328 Ashmont St. “I was so young when I got married, I wore my First Communion dress.” … “Our Christmas tree was set in coal.”…  “To get into our home, you just had to rattle the doorknob; if you knocked, you were a stranger.”… “My Mom sprayed everything with gold paint.”… “There was a candy wreath down cellar, with scissors; nobody wanted to eat the candy because it was five years old.”…“There was also a macaroni wreath that my mother sprayed gold.  A squirrel ate all of the macaroni.”…“Our gifts came from either the Bargain Center or Filene’s Basement.”…“I did have to go to dance school, but only one leg would work. I kept going around in circles.”
The gals then began to sing again.  The first song was “If I Could Have Three Wishes.”  Then there were “Jesus, It’s Your Birthday,” “Mary, Did You Know?” “Silent Night,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Have a Yule That’s Cool,” in which they sounded like the Andrews Sisters, and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”  Cathy and Sheila sang “Christmas Is Here Again.”  Then all four sang “Hard Candy Christmas.”  They finished the evening with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

The group received a standing ovation at the end.  We laughed a great deal.  We loved seeing so many of our neighbors.  Some of the groups attending stayed after the show was over to chat.  I’m sure they had a great time.  It was such a pleasant evening!

On Dec. 14, the eve of the holy day, Hubby, Daughter Sue, and I drove to St. Gregory’s Church, because there is ample parking there.  Fr. Vincent Daily celebrated the Mass. He stood outside the church after Mass to greet his parishioners.  He spotted us and said, “I must tell you that we are going to have a Christmas brunch this year.  I hope you’ll come.  This is the last time that Gerard will cater for us.”  The next morning, Hubby and I were at St. Gregory’s Rectory to buy four tickets. Our friend Eileen Burke, who loves events at St. Gregory’s as much as we do, was going to come with us.

This past Sunday morning, the four of us arrived at St. Gregory’s for the Christmas Brunch.  Daughter Sue dropped the three of us at the sidewalk near the school hall and found a parking spot quite close by.  We walked into the hall and were greeted by Gerard and his crew, who were the only ones there.  Gerard gave us a big “hello!” as he put the chafing dishes on the buffet table.  His team was just finishing putting chairs at all of the tables.  The food smelled great.

Soon, more people came into the hall.  Then a great many people came in from the 10 a.m. Mass.  The hall was abuzz with chatter.  People were walking around greeting others.  Della Costello came and sat with us for a few minutes.  Pat MacNaught came over to greet us.  She had come with our long-time friend Agnes Minihan. (I am sorry that we did not get back to see them, because Hubby would have taken some photos.)  Our Lower Mills pals sat at the next table: Barbara Sullivan, Pat Flynn, Peg Zaremski, Catherine Johnson, Mary Keeley, and Pat Devilley.  Peter Woloschuk sat with us.  We called to Mike Skillin, who came over to greet us.  Arlene Phinney sat at an adjacent table.

Fr. Daily was very proud of the performers.  Two of them were his young cousins, Ellie and Reilly Ortega.  They sang very well for such young children.  Then the Devin Family took to the microphones.  Paul Devin introduced the young ladies who were singing with him: his twin daughters Mattie and Molly and their friend Grace O’Malley.  (Mom of the twins is Jackie.)  All three girls go to Fontbonne Academy and are in their chorus.  They sang beautifully and did great harmony!  We were amazed at their abilities.  Fr. Daily even sang with his sister Connie.  Hubby got some great photos of all of the entertainers. 

We waited until near the end to leave, but many had already gone so they would be home in time for the Patriots’ game. We had noticed that some of our usual companions were not at the brunch; they had gone to the Mass at Cedar Grove Cemetery.  By the way, I was delighted that Elaine Doherty came over to chat with us at the end of the brunch.  I asked her to wish her “kids” Jack and Jody a “Merry Christmas” from our family. I must mention the centerpieces on each table at the brunch.  There was a small gold-colored bowl.  Inside the bowl were red and white carnations.  There was also quite a bit of greenery.  Then there were pine cones and holly berries in among the flowers.  They were the perfect Christmas centerpieces.  The flowers were given to those who had the closest birthday.  We had no trouble figuring out whom we wanted to get our centerpiece.  Our pal Eileen Burke was celebrating her birthday that day, so the centerpiece went to her.  A friend at the next table was also celebrating her birthday, so she took the centerpiece for their table.  Eileen was so pleased to receive the flowers.

Last Saturday, as Hubby was driving me to work, we drove along Worrell St., near the Murphy School.  As we approached the end of the street, near Pope’s Hill Street, we noticed a great deal of broken glass in the street.  Hubby saw it quickly enough and was able to avoid driving over it.  When I got into work, I called Daughter Sue and asked her to call 3-1-1, the new number for the City’s services.  (Officer Lenny Lilly had told us about this number at the last Pope’s Hill meeting.)  Sue called the number and told the person on the phone about the broken glass.  When Hubby and I were on our way home a couple of hours later, we noticed that the glass was all cleaned up.  Bravo to the City of Boston!