Deelish! And not one turkey, chicken or pig slaughtered! From PETA.ORG. – R.T.
Soups and Salads
By Jennifer O’Connor
Kicking off the holiday shopping season with “Red Thursday,” stores are doing whatever it takes to draw in customers. But while shoppers have a choice about standing in long lines and facing ugly crowds, animals used in holiday promotions face a bleak Christmas season.
Santa belongs at the mall. Reindeer do not. Yet some stores have been contracting to have reindeer, who, unlike Dasher and Dancer, are not entirely domesticated and easily become stressed out when hauled around and put on public display, brought in for photo ops and petting zoos. Reindeer don’t enjoy being petted or harnessed or forced to pull sleighs. These large, strong animals tend to be skittish and unpredictable—and nothing ruins a shopping trip faster than a runaway, frightened animal with antlers.
Today’s crowded mall parking lots are no place for horses, either, yet horse-drawn carriages abound. The season for operators to earn money is short, so horses are provided with few breaks to rest or catch their breath. They can end up overworked, exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Many also suffer from leg pain from pounding hard asphalt all day long. And when tack rubs against a horse’s skin for hours on end, it can cause sores and abrasions that may be difficult to see when covered by harnesses.
Horses are extremely sensitive to loud noises and unexpected sounds—like the blaring of a horn by someone trying to commandeer a parking space. Horses and people have been seriously hurt—some fatally—when horses have spooked and run amok or when impatient drivers have run into them.
And isn’t forcing animals to participate in crèches and holiday shows the antithesis of the spirit of the season? Over the years, camels, sheep and donkeys used as props in holiday displays have been beaten, mauled, attacked by dogs and killed by cruel people. Others, frightened and confused, have broken away from the displays, only to be hit and killed by cars. The city of Charleston, S.C., decided not to use animals in a tree-lighting ceremony this year after a giraffe—a giraffe!—freaked out and broke free last year.
As ethical human beings, we must recognize that animals should not be used as props, no matter how altruistic the intention. And live Nativity displays using animals aren’t even realistic. In Pope Benedict’s biography of Jesus Christ, he points out that contrary to popular belief, there were no oxen, camels, donkeys or other animals of any kind in the manger.
No one in authority ensures that these animals are being provided with food, water and proper care. Understaffed and overburdened animal control departments don’t have the resources to monitor these displays and enforce compliance with anti-cruelty laws. The exhibitors who provide the animals consider this their high season, so profits typically trump animal welfare.
Caring readers can extend the hand of compassion to all this holiday season by refusing to patronize reindeer photo ops, carriage rides and “living” Nativity scenes.
By Sue Moynagh
I really don’t have a particular Christmas story that stands out in my memory. Rather it is the anticipation of Christmas that I remember well; the sights, smells and sounds that surround the time before Christmas that made and makes even now, the holiday special to me.
Christmas season began right after Thanksgiving for those of us who grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. As we waited for the first snowfall (at least the children did), we began to prepare for the big day ahead. Children scouted the toy sections of stores and eagerly viewed television commercials for gift ideas. Lists were carefully drawn up and given to parents. Visions of sleds, ice skates, Barbie dolls and all the latest games and toys filled our heads and hopes. There were no computer games back then, but we had dolls that walked, talked, grew hair, cried and peed! There were little ovens that actually baked! Boys had airplane and ship models, cap guns, erector sets, electric trains and GI Joes. I loved the paint- by- number sets, clay and mosaic kits and imagined myself a budding artist. Imagination was a must to have fun.
Shopping for loved ones was an endeavor that required planning as well. Will mom like this perfume? Hope so, I bought the biggest bottle I could find! What do you get for the nun who taught at school? Usually handkerchiefs and hand lotion. Many schools had Christmas gift swaps where you picked a name and got something for that person. I never knew what to get. My tastes were radically different from my class mates. The fun was in the hunt for the best gift at the cheapest price.
School was bustling with activity in preparation for Christmas. I attended St. Casimir Catholic parochial school on Waverly Street. At least once a week, we had a period during which we made a variety of art projects with the holiday theme. Snowflakes were cut out to decorate the windows, Nativity scenes were made with cut- outs from old greeting cards, pie plates and whipped- up Ivory Snow, and trees were made from peppermint candy and Styrofoam cones. We sang Christmas songs, of course, and as a special treat, we went to the Church hall to watch movies and load up on sweets. Most important of all, we learned the spiritual meaning of Christmas. The Catholic sisters made sure we heard the story of Christ’s birth, and often a Nativity scene was put up in class to remind us what this day was truly about. Of course, we were counting the days until school vacation. Over a week off!
Most families found their way downtown for their shopping and fun. Downtown was a radically different world at Christmas season. Picture throngs of people walking from store to store. Stores had window displays that drew admirers and made shopping a part of the festivities. The city was ablaze with colored lights. I think the new lights are well-designed, but whatever happened to colorful lights? These blue- white things look cold and uninviting, almost dismal. A big treat for us was to eat at one of the restaurants while shopping. City hall also had a crèche, as did some of the churches nearby. The big draw was the visit to Santa Claus. Is there a store in Worcester that hosts Santa? I’ve only seen one at the Auburn Mall or at holiday events.
Christmas in the home was also a special experience. Mom would pull out the boxes of decorations and every available space was covered with ornaments, statues, wreaths, and Christmas cards. The biggest thing was getting the Christmas tree. We had no car, so my mother and I, accompanied by one of my cousins, hiked all over Grafton Street or Green Island looking for a suitable and affordable tree. We carried the thing home, inhaling that special pine scent and getting sticky with sap. After mom got the thing into the stand, we were treated to a shrimp boat dinner from Messier’s diner. The next day was spent decorating the tree to Mom’s satisfaction. We listened to Christmas carols or watched a Christmas special on television while we worked. Every year we swore that this tree was the biggest, best ever.
Wrapping and delivering presents was part of the fun. There was plenty of food on hand for guests, and plenty of beer and brandy to fortify friends and relatives against the cold. Grandma made her special Lithuanian raisin bread for each of her daughters and her son. There was no special recipe for this bread which we covered with sweet butter. She added ingredients according to taste and texture, a pinch of this and a handful of that, so that is one tradition that has been lost. Sometimes, my uncle Tony would take us kids for a ride to see the Christmas lights at nighttime. It was incredibly beautiful, and to this day I can’t help but smile when I see a house all lit up for the holiday season.
The highlight was Christmas Eve. This is when we opened our presents that were placed in piles under the tree. My uncle, aunt and cousins came up from the first floor to join in the fun, and then my mom and I went to their apartment while they opened their gifts. But first, there was the special meal. Lithuanian families usually had a meal with seven types of fish served, but for us clam chowder, creamed salmon on toast or herring with rye bread was the entrée. We sometimes lit candles to make it more cozy, and the adults had wine. We kids loved the hot milk or cocoa. If we had enough stamina, we attended midnight Mass, but usually we waited for Christmas Day.
Christmas Day meant visiting one of the relatives after Mass for a huge dinner and more gift giving. It was a whole day event and quite frankly, I was glad when it was over. In time, my cousins married and had Christmas with their own families and in- laws, grandparents passed away, and new traditions were started. I may not actually celebrate Christmas now, but I love to sit in a mall or restaurant and watch the shoppers as they bustle about. People seem friendlier at this time of year. I treat myself to a special meal, attend a few holiday events, and enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Christmas season.
Hate the materialism of it all.
Wanna do some good and feel good this holiday season? Check out our United Way of Central Massachusetts agency wish list in this issue of InCity Times. Great Worcester County agencies who help people all year ’round need donations for the holiday season. Gifts for kids’ parties, food for seniors. Check it out.
If you are thinking globally, read this great op/ed piece from The New York Times:
Or for $52 you can buy your uncle something more meaningful than a necktie: send an Afghan girl to school for a year in his name, through the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org).
Yes, it’s time for my annual holiday-giving guide. The question I most often get from readers is “what can I do?” This column is an answer. As in past years, I’m highlighting small organizations because you’re less likely to know about them.
Shining Hope for Communities (shininghopeforcommunities.org) was started by Kennedy Odede, a slum-dweller in Nairobi, Kenya, who taught himself to read. A visiting American gave him a book on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it inspired Odede to organize local residents to fight against social injustice – particularly sexual violence, because his 16-year-old sister had just been raped.
Odede now runs an outstanding girls’ school in the heart of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, along with a clinic, a water and sanitation program, and job training classes. That slum school is one of the most hopeful places I’ve ever visited.
After I wrote about Shining Hope in 2011, Times readers contributed $180,000, leading to a huge expansion so that Shining Hope (mostly through the clinic) now serves some 36,000 people. Another nearby slum, Mathare, has invited Odede to start a girls’ school there if he can find the resources.
Dr. Hawa Abdi (vitalvoices.org/hawafund) runs a hospital, school and refugee camp in war-torn Somalia. She became an obstetrician-gynecologist partly because her mother had died in childbirth, and she has focused on helping rural Somali women.
The land around her 400-bed hospital, outside of Mogadishu, has become an encampment serving up to 90,000 people made homeless by war. Hawa has provided water, health care and education, and when students transfer to Mogadishu they are up to three grades ahead of children there. Hawa also is battling female genital mutilation, and she runs a jail for men who beat their wives.
An extremist Muslim militia with 750 soldiers attacked the hospital two years ago, saying that it was against religion for a woman to run anything substantial. Hawa stood up to the attackers and – because ordinary Somalis sided with her – she was able to force the militia to back down. Then she made the militia write her an apology!
Yet Hawa’s hospital and school are struggling financially. Vital Voices, a Washington organization supporting women’s rights, has set up a tax-deductible mechanism to keep Hawa’s work going. …
To read more click on link below:
This album would make a fab gift for any college-age girl. Girls need fewer frilly things and more lps like this one! Click on link below to hear one of my favorite songs! – Rosalie Tirella
Dickens Returns to Mechanics Hall
Friday, September 21, 8 PM
Tickets: $20 – $35
Charles Dickens first came to Worcester in 1842. He returned in March of 1868 to perform A Christmas Carol to a sold-out Mechanics Hall.
His great-great-grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens, will recreate that evening using his own adaptation of the classic Christmas tale. Gerald plays over 30 characters using his vocal and physical talents to bring each scene vividly to life.
Relive Worcester’s history!
For tickets call (508) 752-0888.
The Worcester Senior Center
128 Providence St.
Worcester MA 01604
Relaxation for the Holidays
Tuesday, December 14, 1-2 pm
Michelle Jones invites you to join her for this free program. The holiday season is fast approaching. There are preparations to make ready for our celebrations with family and friends. Amidst the hustle and bustle are you taking time to care for yourself?.
”Holidays Around the World” Holiday Party
Wednesday, December 15, 11-2 pm
11-12 pm Special Performances by the Senior Center and South East Asian Chorus and much more….
12-1 pm Call ESW Nutrition Program at 508-799-8070 to reserve your holiday meal.
1-2 pm stay on after lunch for a Sing-A-Long with the chorus.
Keep an eye out for a special elf to help with raffles.
SNOW DATE scheduled for 12/22
Friday, December 17, 10:30-11:30
Quinsigamond Community College will have specially prepared gingerbread men made up for you to frost and enjoy. Please stop by the front desk to sign up for some fun.
Tuesday, December 21, 10:30-11:30 am
Amy and friends return with a special holiday craft to make and bring home.
Holiday Favorites for all Ages
Tuesday, December 21, 1-3 pm
Enjoy an afternoon with everyone’s favorite pianist Scott Berryman. Scott will perform a special selection of holiday favorites and as always will take requests. Refreshments sponsored by the Blaire House.