Tag Archives: Happy holidays

🎄IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE🎄

By Rosalie Tirella

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Last night …

I watched the classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE last night. It’s been a few years since I “screened” it in my digs. I forgot just how great – as in without peers! – this film is! For a while ELF was my go to Christmas gem, but after last night, there was no comparing! Beautiful story. Warm and quirky touches. OUTSTANDING REAL ACTING. Ward Bond. That terrific Irish American character actor. Donna Reed. Frank Capra directing. Best of all: James Stewart. It was after World War I I and Stewart was a hero, had flown bomber planes for the US military. Led a bunch of guys – including Worcester’s Tony Hmura! But the war had taken its toll: Stewart had had a nervous breakdown and Hollywood wondered what his new roles would be. He could no longer be the charming, handsome, young romantic lead. He was older now, beaten-down looking. A war hero with the emotional scars that come with it.

Then comes IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and everything that made Jimmy Stewart Jimmy Stewart at that moment rose up to the tippity top of his soul – all his fears, loves, knowledge, world weariness…
All this seen in Stewart’s face and body language, especially in the second half of the movie, when George Bailey’s (Stewart’s) guardian angel makes him non-existent. George was driving to the falls to jump off the bridge and kill himself because Uncle Billy misplaced their bank’s $8,000. He wanted to escape jail, loss of status, maybe even his wife and kids. So poof! Clarence his guardian angel appeared and saved him by showing George what life would look like if he had never been born. Clarence guides him thru the consequences. George sees what his small town would be without him. It is a surreal, intense experience! Not cutesy at all! Mr. Gower, the drugstore owner, is a homeless alcoholic. George’s mother is cruel and hard from running a boarding house to survive. Uncle Billy’s in an insane asylum. And Mary is alone, never married, never had kids and a family. George sees all the losses, the missed moments, the ripples of love he created thru all his good deeds that he never gave a second thought about BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENED! He was a good man! The close up of George’s face when he realizes he was never married to his lady love – Mary…Guy wrenching, terrifying. A deep deep close up of Stewart’s exhausted face is too much to bear! George had already seen his kid brother’s gravestone, Mr. Gower’s alcoholism and homelessness, his mother’s bitterness, his town’s metamorphosis: from postcard cute to rough, poor, dumpy and filled with whores of all kinds …is too much. His cute town owned and operated by the evil Mr. Potter! Because George wasn’t there to be the light in the darkness!

To see George’s face when he awakens from this nightmare! YES!!!HE’S ALIVE! HE IS HOME! WIFE, KIDS, UNCLE BILLY, MA, BAILEY’S BUILDING AND LOAN, SWEET OLD BEDFORD FALLS!! All there! YES!! George leaps into the winter air! He runs down Main Street, all decked out for Christmas, waving and shouting to all the mom and pop shoppes – and the Bijou movie house! Stewart is tall and lanky and athletic…so he looks very beautiful. He slides to a halt to hug Ernie the cop or to pat his old jalopy, the one he crashed into a tree, all the while yelling MERRY CHRISTMAS! MERRY CHRISTMAS! to everybody!

An ordinary guy living in a small American town having a religious experience. LOVE = CHRISTMAS!

What wouldn’t “be” if you weren’t embodied in your you-ness?

Gone from Worcester, planet earth? Poof! Like magic! What good deeds, kind words, rescues – great and small – would disappear from the universe? Forever! Who would be left … alone, bereft, lost, hungry, homeless? If you’re a teacher or nurse or fireman…you know the answer. But what about you captains of industry and chamber of commerce types? What would Your IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE look like? What would your Worcester neighborhood, Worcester County town or city look like sans YOU?

Living in a car for seven months changes you! Looking up at the night sky, purplish and star-less, staring at it all from my car windshield!!, I sometimes thought: What if? What is the point of ME? Look at me! In a car! At Christmas!!! But then Jett and Lilac and the morning birdsong and the fresh new day made me … happy! Nature and animals drew me back into life, and I would think: my pups need me! It’s beautiful outside! Let’s run the dogs and buy a fresh cup of coffee at McDonald’s and work the problem. And the people and streets of my hometown made me feel happy!

I was lucky. I had a car – and friends who saved me in snow storms and heat waves. But many homeless folks don’t have that – they depend on their town or city for shelter and compassion. This Christmas all the churches in Worcester – except one – said NO to housing our homeless folks during the coldest months of the year. NO the pastors told the mayor and city manager, they couldn’t make room for the poor in their church community rooms or buildings or even church basements. Father John Madden at St. John’s Church on Temple Street did so for many years – the City’s guardian angel – but this winter new needs sprung up in Worcester (mostly a housing crisis, coupled with COVID) – and our churches, houses of God, said: No room at the Inn!

What would George Bailey have done?

Mike Moreshead of Worcester’s Friendly House

By Rosalie Tirella

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The gift. photos: R.T.

Last night I made this kinda rough looking Dollar Tree gift basket for a guy who saved my life. A lopsided token of thanks for a guy who got me and my two dogs out of my car, out of homelessness, a few months ago, and into this beautiful apartment.

It’s my first gift basket ever and I’m a little ashamed of it. It’s so … prosaic. No glitter, no sparkle, no big red velvet ribbon tied at the top. The gifts are from Dollar Tree. It’s smallish, too, especially when you consider that Mike performed a MIRACLE.

I had been homeless for more than a year when I met him. I had hit all the Worcester social service agencies and filled out all their application forms (hundreds), multiple times, it seemed. I had connected with Congressman Jim McGovern’s office and a few other political poo bas. They couldn’t have cared less about my predicament. Except for Pam Ortiz and Christine at Central Mass Housing Alliance, every social worker type had their head up his/her arse. FILL OUT THIS FORM, they’d say, obliviously. GET ON A COMPUTER AND GO TO THIS LINK, they’d say, callously. CALL THIS PHONE NUMBER! GOOD LUCK! …Holly, the young woman in charge of Congressman McGovern’s office, actually laughed at me. Laughed in my face! So I was expecting more of the same when I drove up to the Friendly House on Wall Street one sunny afternoon.

I’ll never forget meeting Mike Moreshead, assistant to the Friendly House director: I was desperate, stinky, depressed. Out walked Mike to “assess the situation.” He stood by my car, neat as a pin wearing dress pants and dress shirt, blue neck tie. He had a pen and clip board in hand. He was soft-spoken, fine-boned, short – I’d say he weighed no more than 100 lbs – and looked almost as depressed as me. I thought to myself: GREAT! LOOK AT HIM! I NEED A STRONG PERSON! WE’RE HOMELESS! WE NEED HELP – BIG TIME!! AND THIS IS MY SOCIAL WORKER?! We’ll be in my freakin’ car forever!

Boy, was I wrong about Mike Moreshead – now the assistant director of the Friendly House! Did I ever underestimate this quiet, understated social service … POWERHOUSE. Mike actually did the work, filled out the paperwork and followed through with scores of phone calls on my behalf. I checked in with him every day. He gave me my side of the equation to work but went over it all before PDFs were emailed. Made copies and kept the duplicates. When you’re homeless file folders are a luxury.

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No fancy ribbon up top!

When I despaired, Mike stayed strong and focused, worked his contacts for me, THOUGHT THE PROBLEM THRU. Once he got me a few weeks respite in a motel. When property directors started getting a bit obscure or didn’t call me back like they said they would, Mike called them on my behalf – and stayed on them. He had clout but used it wisely, softly, diplomatically … the opposite of this old broad’s interpersonal style! I learned a lot watching Mike Moreshead!

Mike loved Jett and Lilac. Whenever I drove up to the Friendly House, he’d come out and I’d feel reassured, “on track” as he caressed Lilac’s old face and say, Only a few weeks more, girl … or pat Jett and tell him: Just a little longer, Jett. You’ll have a home! You could see the compassion in this young man’s eyes. You could tell his heart broke for my two dogs, my Jett and Lilac.

Mike’s softness doesn’t make him a pushover. He’s tough, very strong willed, eyes on the prize. I’m tenacious. Mike Moreshead is twice as tenacious as I am! For all his Friendly House clients, for social justice. By the end, I was urging him to run for Worcester City Council. WORCESTER NEEDS YOU, MIKE! I’d say over and over again.

Mike’s letters have real grace – I framed one of his recommendation letters about me! A “me” that I want to be now! Every day I strive to be the Rose in Mike’s letter! UMass Amherst gave him that great liberal arts education: he’s well spoken, can do the research, write well, read critically … He’s gifted!

Gift basket making is another thing. It is not as easy as the YouTube videos make it out to be and if you don’t have a lot of $$. You need gifts, first of all. The influencers say you need to color coordinate and get your bows all in a row, small to large, in a special holiday caddy! I have no bows or caddies, just bought the transparent tape last week! … But I thought of Mike Moreshead when I put it together. I remembered all he’s done for me and my dogs this past half year and got inspired! I went to the dollar store and mixed and matched and really hunted for things that would make Mike smile. For all his phone calls, his sympathetic ear, his gentle ways, his openness, the call backs, the intelligent advice, the honesty, the perseverance. The love for all his Friendly House clients, for all the poor families and struggling single moms in the neighborhood. Once outside Mike saw a woman struggling with a heavy food box and said: GOTTA GO, Rose! SHE NEEDS HELP CARRYING HER BOX!

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The pancake spatula is Christmas red!

I tried to be creative when creating Mike’s Christmsas gift box! Tried to transcend the pennies in my purse! Mike is a young guy just starting out with his young hairdresser wife. Mike is the owner of two dogs – and a cranky cat. Mike Moreshead, is now the very very busy assistant director at the Friendly House. So I thought of a relaxing Sunday morning or day off and bought him a box of Old Fashioned Pancake mix at Price Chopper – I like their baking mixes – and a spatula to flip those pancakes. And I put in a serving plate for all those warm pancakes, plastic knife and fork tied to a Christmas ball. All strategically arranged in a cute dish I found on the side of the road (and washed!! Shhhh! Don’t tell Mike!) My favorite breakfast gift item I put in Mike’s Christmsas gift basket? This potholder set! Christmas pups and kitties celebrating “Santa Paws”! I know he’ll love it!

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Adorable “Santa Paws” potholders!

When Friendly House Executive Director Gordon Hargrove retired after decades of loving service to the people of Friendly House, to Worcester’s poorest of the poor, I was worried. Gordon was so wonderful! So giving and caring! So intellectual but also so hands-on – and wise and savvy. How could anyone ever take his place? I feared the Friendly House would shrivel up and die – or become just another pointless Worcester social service agency. Again: boy, was I was wrong. They’ve got Trish and Mike Moreshead and Josephina at the helm – and a great staff to help serve the community.

Mostly, in my opinion, they’ve got Mike Moreshead.

🌲CHRISTMAS CRECHE✨

By Rosalie Tirella

As you know, my CUBESMART storage unit on McKeon Road, by Holy Cross, was broken into – TWICE! We can only guess who the creeps are who stole some of my lps, audio cassettes, blankets … and, I think, my Bapy’s Christmas nativity figurines from Poland – or turn of the 20th century Green Island. I put up Bapy’s creche – I still have that vintage treasure, it’s about 90 years old – and the few figurines I did manage to gather together when unpacking boxes in my new digs: my Polish immigrant grandmother’s horn-playing shepherd, my Italian granny, Maria’s, tiny blue ceramic angel, a porcelain shepherd and two little ocean babes. The blue angel was a gift from Maria to my father. My Italian Grandfather Sabino missed the holidays at home with his family. He was on the road selling his Italian cheeses and meats to ladies all over Worcester County after having driven his truck into Boston’s North End markets to buy all his Italian foodstuffs wholesale. Or he was up the street giving Christmas gifts to his mistress – Granny Maria raised their 10 kids pretty much alone, had a huge backyard garden bigger than their little Summit house that Sabino built with his eldest sons. Food for everybody during the Great Depression!

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Rose’s creche. photos: R.T.

Anyways, besides Maria’s blue angel, I found a porcelain shepherd – the one that went with a fancy nativity set one of my sisters bought for my mom decades ago. Twenty little statues, including porcelain sheep, a cow and a donkey leaning over the manger, filled with straw and a baby Jesus. Too fancy for my tastes! So one Christmas I mailed the entire set – except for the shepherd – or is he Joseph? – to my other sister in Boston as a holiday gift. I kept the one shepherd/Joseph to remember how kind my first, best sister always was! Loving my late mom so much when we were young! Always thinking of Ma … My sister was my mother’s right hand when she was just 15 years old! “Jan” went grocery shopping, weekly, and worked almost full-time at the fruit store on Millbury Street when we were all in high school. She gave her paycheck to my mother to help pay the bills. Jan was the father bread earner we were missing as Daddy disappeared for months at a time. She kept our poor little family afloat! She’s the one with Parkinson’s today …

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Ocean cherubs

And finally, the two little sea babes – one holding a fish and another steering the ship – gifts from the owner of a long gone Green Island restaurant, one of my first InCity Times customers. A Brazilian eatery on Millbury Street… 22 years ago. I had just started InCity Times. They had just opened their restaurant – in the old Steeple Bumpsteds. I’d sell them ads and they’d say: SIT DOWN! HAVE LUNCH ON US! GO TO THE BUFFET TABLE! ENJOY, ROSA! … It was a long time ago, when people seemed gentler with each other…more open to each other’s stories. I’d skip their grilled meat but enjoyed their veggies – a heaping plate full at a cozy booth. We all chatted, joked, their little children running around me, playing, laughing. Their waitress was nice, too. The owners and I talked of starting a new biz, through broken English and my ridiculous hand gestures and loud talking – and how hard it was. We wished each other luck – survival! I gave my friends free ads, hoping I could help them. They fed me to sustain my health during winter months when I slogged thru the dirty snow, selling ads to my Worcester customers. But they closed shop in a year or two. My friends whom I still miss whenever I drive down Millbury Street.

One day their waitress gave me the ocean babes – plus two more little statuettes, four in all. She said her family, in her “old country,” were fisherman, and these little baby cherubs were for good luck there, people prayed to them. The fishermen prayed to them especially – for success at sea: the cherb holding the fish was for a great catch…the little steering cherub meant safe travels in the wild fierce ocean. There were two others ocean babes but I lost them years ago, and I’ve forgotten what they symbolize.

So today I put the ocean babes in my Christmas creche – substitutes for MIA baby Jesus. I looked at my creche! What would Jesus think of the whole scene? I was missing the most important part! The Holy Family!

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Many years ago: CECELIA’s Christmas card to daughter Rose!

So I went to the Dollar Tree. No luck. I called a pal or two – no extra Virgin Mary’s or Joseph’s! Then, I opened up one of my memory boxes and found some old Christmas cards. Believe it or not, I don’t save many holiday cards – but I did save these two gems: a small, five and ten Christmas card from my late mother. From decades ago! The Holy Family on a sweet blue little card from a package of 15 she probably bought at the old White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street. There was an adorable Jesus as the centerpiece. And inside the card, when I gently opened it, a little note from my Mom, signed by her, with her signature kisses and hugs, her x o x o’s always in teeny hearts – carefully drawn, the way she always closed her little notes to me. When I saw those kisses in Ma’s little hearts I remembered my mother at Christmas! On Lafayette Street! Trudging home through the snow, pulled her shopping cart filled with Christmas foods and Christmas presents for her three little girls. She was alone! She was so poor! Yet she was always full of love and hope – did everything with such grace!

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Love, from Mom!

Then, beneath Ma’s Christmas card, I found a little homemade card. I opened it up carefully. It was to me from two little boys! 30 years ago! I remembered: I was a substitute teaching in the Worcester Public Schools – a part-time job I had unexpectedly come to enjoy as I tried to launch my newspapering career. The inner-city junior high kids I spent my days with made me laugh and cry. So, it was Christmas time at Worcester East Middle School, and I had asked the kids in my 7th grade class to make some Christmas cards for their family and friends. They took out their boxes of crayons from their old desks and I walked over to the huge paper cutter and cut rectangles of beige construction paper for them. I walked up and down between the rows of desks, giving each of my students several pieces of old construction paper. I said: FOLD THESE IN HALF! COLOR A HOLIDAY PICTURE ON THE COVER AND WRITE A MESSAGE INSIDE! GIVE THEM OUT TO YOUR FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS! The kids, so many poor, so many with crumby parents they still loved, seemed enthusiastic about their project and set to work. At the end of the period, two little Black boys ran up to me, sitting behind the teachers desk. HERE, MISS T! one boy said. Then they ran back to their desks.

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From Tranel and Keith!

I opened up their little card they gave me. They had drawn a pretty Christmas stocking on it. Inside, their holiday message: TO THE BEST TEACHER IN THE WORLD! FROM YOUR FRIENDS TRANEL AND KEITH. How beautiful! THANK YOU!!! I said.

Later that day I put my friends’ Christmas card on my refrigerator and years later framed it, and here it was in my memory box, in 2022. It would be a part of my Christmas creche! A new Nativity scene! I placed it by my Christmas scene, on my wicker end table, the big lamp shining…the birth of a new life in the country … a gift from two city boys, poor like me, like the Little Drummer Boy on that first Christmas night, Keith and Tranel, two Black boys in Worcester, following their own star of Bethlehem, playing their own song of love, giving me their simple gift. From the heart.

So this Christmas I have a new Christmas Nativity set, made of everything that means LOVE to me! It’s a bit unconventional, but it tells the story all right …

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What Christmas is all about …

This Sunday! Friendly House Annual Christmas Party!!!

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Friendly House Annual Christmas Party!

36 Wall St.

This Sunday, December 18

2 pm – 4 pm

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For children ages 0-12 – must be accompanied by an adult

Raffles!

Gifts for all children ages 0-12 in attendance!

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Music!

Dance performances!

Entertainment!

First come, first served!

Volunteers, gifts for tweens still needed … if you can help in any way! Cheers, inner-city Woo!

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THANK YOU, GORDON AND SANTA!!! You’re the best!!😄😄😊☺😁😃🎄🎅💝

*******

Top 5 Tips for a vegan Christmas

From PETA.ORG

Top Five Tips for a Vegan Christmas Feast

The following article was written by Keegan Baur.

This Christmas, are you looking for quick, easy, and delectable vegan foods to serve at your holiday meal or party? Whether you’re vegan or you know someone who is—or you just want to “test out the waters”—here are some suggestions for irresistible, cruelty-free fare for your holiday get-together.

1.   Succulent main courses: There are plenty of ready-to-eat choices, but PETA’s pick is Gardein’s new Savory Stuffed Turk’y. Other flavorful options include Turtle Island Foods’ Tofurky Roast and Field Roast’s Celebration Roast.

2.   Veganize the classics: You can easily use vegetable stock, vegan margarine, and unsweetened soy milk to veganize family favorites such as stuffing andmashed potatoes with gravy. In bread and savory dishes, use Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs, and in sweet baked goods, use apple sauce or bananas. Refer to these articles for more specifics on replacements for dairy products and eggs.

3.   Divine desserts: Decadent nondairy, egg-free desserts from New York City’s famous Candle Café are now available at most Whole Foods Market locations. …

To read entire story, CLICK HERE

“Happy Holidays” from Michael Moore …

Friends,

Thanks for all the wonderful comments regarding the short story about my mom from HERE COMES TROUBLE that I sent you a few days ago. I figured it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also send you the short story about my dad from the book. It’s entitled ‘Christmas ’43,’ and you can download it here, free of charge

Happy holidays,

Michael Moore