2017-12-07 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•Happy Holidays! This time of year is my favorite! I love the smell of pine trees and cranberry-scented candles. I enjoy seeing people hurrying from one store to another, shopping for gifts. The vision of holiday lights around the homes of friends and neighbors reminds me of the car rides with my parents and sisters and brothers as we went to see the way homes were decorated for the holiday.

When I was young, there were no huge inflatables dwarfing the homes they sat in front of…we primarily used lights and perhaps a few wooden characters: usually crèche scenes and angels back then.

As you may know, I was one of six children, with three older and two younger siblings. While any family ride usually started with squabbling over who would sit where, that didn’t happen at this time of year. We were trying (most of the time) to be good and, besides, we were impressed by the holiness of the season.

I remember the year I received a doll house. It was made of tin, printed with furnishings, rugs, wallpaper, etc. Later we learned that Dad had been up to all hours on Christmas Eve, trying to put it together. The tin had cut his hands and fingers, but the finished product thrilled me. To this day I remember that doll house more clearly than any other gift I ever received.

On Christmas morning, we would go to Mass, dressed up in our best outfits. I remember the two older girls and I wore dark mulberry dresses made of velvet, with lace collars. At the time, I liked being dressed up like “the big girls.” I had a white fur muff, probably made from rabbit fur. I was very proud of that muff, which kept my hands so warm.

St. Joseph’s has never had the temperature as warm or cold as one wanted, but I don’t think I noticed that on Christmas.

Poinsettias flowed down the side of the altar and candles blinked in a magical way. The choir and the attendees sang wonderful songs about Christmas, in Latin and in English. We knew most of the words and sang along.

My mother and my younger sister, Laura, had wonderful voices. I loved to sing, but would be hushed on occasion.

After Mass, we would proceed down the aisle out into the cold, crisp air. Everyone looked for friends to exchange greetings and compare notes about the loot we had received. Then we would pile in the car and go home to fix a huge breakfast. Once that was over we would tidy up the living room and throw away a ton of used wrapping and ribbons. At last we were allowed to bring some of the gifts up to our rooms.

As a girl, I was expected to help set the table and prepare some of the dishes for the crowd that would start arriving about three.

The dinner was served sometime between six and seven, and the last guest would leave after nine. We would clean up as best we could and then drag ourselves off to bed.

The most magical day was over and we would recall it over and over until the next one rolled around.

•One tradition of the Christmas season that I loved is the lighting of the Village Tree in Argyle Park. I seldom miss that ceremony, but this year I just couldn’t make it.

The Sunday before last, I had a bad fall from my back porch steps. My right knee started to swell until it was three times the size of the other. Ten days later it is still almost the same size and very painful. While I have been able to do a few errands, every time I move more than a few steps I find I am breathing heavily.

When I went to see my doctor, he told me I had lost a lot of blood into the tissues. This means that there are fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen to the heart and brain, which is why I’m breathing heavily. Bah, humbug! So I’m taking it easy and I missed not only the Village Tree Lighting, but also the Historical Society Wassail Bowl that follows! Very annoying!

This is also the reason that I missed last week’s column, I’m afraid. Sorry about that!

However, I received a call today from Judy Skillen, who told me that I had been the winner of the art print of two baymen working at their craft. This was wonderful, as I had helped sell chances on the print and admired it a lot!

•The Saturday before Christmas is now known as small business Saturday. Residents are asked to patronize the small shops in the Village as they do their holiday shopping. But I’m asking you to making a commitment to shop these stores not only on that one day but also all year long! Many of the merchants are fellow residents and friends. They need our support year round. So please shop locally this month and every month. Those small stores are a large part of why Babylon is such a great place to live!

•During this time of the year, try to remember your friends and neighbors who are shut in and lonely. Stop by and chat for a while. That’s a better holiday gift than a poinsettia or Christmas present! Enjoy this month as best you can! I will!

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