All Things Senior Center--Christmas Memories

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The Night Before Christmas Golden Book--1955

Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Silent Night and Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly! During this Christmas season, the Senior Center itself is all decked out in preparation for the holiday. Winter greeneries drape the mantel over the fireplace, candy canes fill the dish on the front desk, a beautiful poinsettia sits on the table in the lobby and there’s even a brightly decorated tree sitting in front of the window. Make sure you check out the Thrift Shop, it’s filled with all kinds of Christmas items for sale (at half price now) that will make great gifts. Everyone at the Center in such a festive mood; there’s jingle bell earrings and necklaces, Santa hats and Christmas clothing galore. How wonderful it is to believe in the magic of Christmas!

Just the other day, I was thinking of all the fun Christmas’ I had when I was a kid and thought, “How nice it would be to hear other peoples favorite holiday memories.” What a better place to go than the senior center! Some of the people there have 25-30 more years of Christmas memories than I do! I would like to share the responses I got from got my question, “Do you have a favorite holiday memory?”

When Joan Dwyer and her twin sister were about four years old, they each got a hand made doll cradle for Christmas. Joan said it was the best gift she ever got!

Doris Carver’s best memory was when her first son Philip was about three years old, he wasn’t afraid of Santa like the other kids were. When Philip first saw Santa Claus in person, he was so excited that he ran up and hugged him!

Betty Davis got a Shirley Temple doll when she was six years old. “It was the best present ever, I was so proud of that doll!” said Betty.

“I was 20 yrs old and in the Marines in 1945 at Christmastime,” said WWII veteran John Cahill. “When we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, I was so happy that I didn’t have to go in and invade, all I had to do was occupation duty then. That’s my favorite Christmas memory.”

When Cathy Decarolis’ granddaughter Jessie was five years old, she wanted one of the American Girl Doll’s Bitty Babies for Christmas. Cathy said the excitement on Jessie’s face when she opened her Bitty Baby was the best memory ever! Jessie is now 20 years old!

Carol Walsh had a very touching memory. When she was young, her father was in the Navy and she had only seen him once in two and a half years. He was coming home for Christmas the year she was six, but not until a few days after, so Christmas was postponed for a bit. Carol said the night he came home, there were over 200 people at their house to welcome him! Her father was so excited to be home that he laid under the tree and sang Christmas carols. Then everyone got on the floor and sang along with him!

Gerry Silvestro has an “after Christmas memory.” Everyone in the neighborhood would go to the river for a big skating party. There would be a huge bonfire where they’d all get rid of their Christmas trees. We’d have cookies and hot chocolate,” said Gerry.

Van driver George Robinson said his best memories were each Christmas Eve, he and his two brothers would toss a coin to see who was going to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and check out the presents. Then he would be in charge of bringing up one present for each of them—they’d unwrap it, look at it, tape it up again and put it back under the tree.

When Sally Almy’s two kids were little, she wouldn’t be able to sleep because she’d be more excited than the kids. She remembers having to go wake them up on Christmas morning.

Cleo Bowser loves Christmas when the kids are between three and five years old. “The amazement and belief they have,” she said.

“I was sitting behind the oil stove one Christmas Eve,” said Jean Taylor. “I heard a jingle, jingle, jingle and knew it had to be Santa. I pulled the curtain so he wouldn’t see me, because then he wouldn’t leave any presents,” she said.

Eileen Fredette’s best memories are when the whole family would get together to celebrate Christmas.

Bev McIntyre remembers making stuffed dates, cookies and candy with her mom.

“I remember the first time I was allowed to go to Midnight Mass,” said Carol Mecagni. “I was ten years old; it was so exciting to stay up that late to go to church!”

Cindy Chesmore remembers when her son Keefe was about eight or nine. He asked her, “If you don’t believe in Santa Claus, will you still get presents?”

“When I was six, my older brother was 19 years old and in the Navy,” said Ellen Wright. “My favorite memory is when he came home for Christmas that year, he wheeled in a doll carriage for me!”

Barbara Sullivan was about seven or eight when she got a big doll for Christmas. She was so excited because her mother made a coat, hat, muff and dress for it and a matching dress for Barbara. She also got a beautiful doll carriage.

Laima was at her cousin’s one Christmas Eve when she was little. Santa showed up and brought everyone a present. She thought that was the only present she was getting. When they got home that night, she swears she heard jingling—and there under the Christmas tree was a present for her. “It was not there before we left,” she said.

Ralph Edwards was about nine, he was so excited to wake up one Christmas morning to find a baseball glove that he had been wanting.

Mary McLeod’s memories are of the family members all gathered together and the joy of watching the children’s faces during the happiness of Christmastime. “It’s the spirit of the season,” she said.

What is my own all-time favorite memory? Every Christmas Eve, my father would read “The Night Before Christmas” to me and my brother. It was one of those little Golden Books that cost .29 at that time. My mother wrote the date inside, “December 4, 1955.” I was 13 months old and my brother was two. Can you believe I still have that book? It sits on top of my TV every year at Christmas, along with the black and white picture of the two of us with the famous Jordan Marsh Santa Claus!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I hope you all have special memories of your own.

A reminder—the center will be closed during the week of Christmas starting on Friday, December 24 and will reopen again on Monday, January 3, 2011. During this time, the staff will be able to catch up with office work, the volunteers will get a little vacation and it’s the chance for the place to get a good cleaning.

Well, the whole reason for me writing the column these past few years was not only to entertain you with my personal thoughts and stories about the Senior Center, but also to keep you posted about all the upcoming activities and events being held there. As this year comes to an end, I’d like you to know how much I’ve really enjoyed keeping you informed and I hope at times, entertained. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as well. 2011 will bring many new fun and exciting days at the Hopkinton Senior Center. I will close this last column of 2010 by wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all—enjoy this wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. Believe in the magic of Christmas!