Tag Archives: holidays

Holiday story #2

By Ron O’Clair

My earliest recollections of Christmas are happy ones. As a child, anticipating the coming of Santa Claus was a wonderful thing. Like most children, I truly believed there was a Santa Claus and wrote my letters to Santa asking for any number of the toys that were popular that particular year. Of course, I asked for a lot more than I received, believing in my heart that I was worthy due to my having been a good boy during the year.

It was an age of innocence that gradually changed over the years into a realization that my parents, relations and friends were the true source of the gifts that I had received that Christmas. Perhaps the best gift of all was getting to spend time together as a family celebrating the holiday season.

I say that because there were two Christmas’s that I did not get to spend at home while growing up during the time I actually still believed in Santa Claus. One Christmas was spent here in the city on Caro Street with foster parents while my mother was hospitalized and my father could not care for the younger children, myself, and my brother Donald who is two years older than me. I remember that I got a motorized Fire engine that year with working lights and siren, ladders, and all of the various firefighting equipment. That gift came from the social worker who was handling our case. It may have come from the T&G Santa through the social worker, but I seem to remember that the social worker was involved in the giving of the gift. It helped to take my mind off the heartache of missing my parents that year.

Another Christmas, the very next one I believe came when my brother Donald and I were again separated from our parents. My father had driven the two of us up to Maine to live with my father’s sister, my Aunt Edna and her children. Other than the usual clothes, the only gift that I can remember for sure that year was a bubble bath dispenser shaped like an animal that had a long neck on the plastic bottle, but it was not a giraffe, I think it was a cat. What I really wanted that Christmas was for my parents to be together and come for me to take me home to Massachusetts.

My father did come for that Christmas, but he did not bring our mother, he brought someone else, and I met his second wife Jean that Christmas. I did not know anything about divorce, and could not understand why my mother and my father did not live together anymore.

Going back to Massachusetts happened later that year, in August I believe it was, and my father and his new wife asked Donald and I if we wanted to live with them, or with our mother. We chose to live with our mother, and when we got back to Worcester we were dropped off at mother’s apartment on Princeton Street in time for me to start my third grade, so I must have been eight years old that summer when my birthday came in May. We moved into an apartment in a house that burned to the ground some years after we had moved away. The place where the house was is now the neighbor’s yard.

We lived there at 28 Princeton Street for a number of years and I went to Cambridge Street Elementary School, then on to Providence Street Junior High School. Many a Christmas was spent there on Princeton Street. Though we did not have much, many happy memories remain from those days.

I remember one year in particular that my brother in law, my sister Dorothy’s husband came to the house in the most ridiculous Santa suit you ever saw. It was an impulse buy that he had found at a supermarket on Christmas Eve and it was made entirely of plastic sheeting like garbage bag material colored with red and white, it come with a hat, and with a cheap wide black plastic belt to go around the waist, I don’t recall, but it may have even had a cheap plastic beard to go with it. It was the most ridiculous thing you ever saw, but the younger two brothers loved it. Anthony meant well, and brought gifts. My sister Dorothy always managed to give gifts, and she still does to this day even though I tell her not to bother, as I rarely buy gifts for anyone these days with my limited income.

My mother, may God rest her soul, always did the best that she could to make certain that her children had a merry Christmas and was a great source of Christmas spirit to her children. She taught us the joy of giving, without expecting anything in return. One gift that I remember from the Princeton Street days was a miniature pool table with spring loaded cues and little balls. I did not care for it much, but the thought was what counted. I played with it anyway. I miss my mother and wish that I had had her in my life longer than I did.

My sister Dorothy used to spend hours and hours knitting mittens and scarves for us kids when she had no money to buy gifts. Like my mother, she gave from the heart, and I sure appreciated it on those cold winter days. She always remembered to give gifts each Christmas even though sometimes I know that she was having a hard time making ends meet.

Sometimes the best gift of all is being able to spend time with your family during the holiday season. We kids had a lot of fun growing up on Princeton Street during the winter. We used to go down to the wall on Southbridge Street after heavy snowfalls and jump off from various heights into the fresh snow banks after the streets were plowed. When there was enough snow, which was often, we could jump from the apex of the wall at the highest spot. We had a blast. Then we would also go to the Holy Cross athletic fields along McKeon Road and slide down the hills on all manner of sleds, sometimes with an empty cardboard box from the A&P Supermarket when nothing else was available. We always found a way to have fun without spending much money.

Jumping off the wall was great fun. It was so much fun one day, that the next day I went right down to the wall with my expectation of having another blast of fun jumping off the wall into the snow banks. What I did not realize was that there had been a cold snap overnight and the snow banks froze solid. I jumped off the wall expecting a soft landing and nearly bit off my tongue when my knees hit my chin. I learned to appreciate science after that experiment.

During the snow storms we would also hitch rides on the back bumpers of cars going along Southbridge Street and ski down the road on our footwear clinging to whatever car we had happened to grab onto. That was when cars had bumpers that stuck out from the rear of the vehicle so you could get a handhold on the bumper. It would not work with the cars of today with the integrated bumpers. It is amazing that none of us got seriously hurt doing the things we did. We always managed to have fun though without having to spend much money doing it.

I will try to remember the Christmas spirit this year, as I try to do every year, but the days of joy at the prospect of opening gifts is long gone. I give to local charities when I come across them as I am able, and I greet people with exuberance, and wish them a Merry Christmas as much as possible. It costs nothing to wish a stranger a Merry Christmas, and helps to spread the holiday cheer.

In the spirit of giving this Christmas, I urge you readers to consider giving of yourself to help others for the sense of satisfaction you receive in the giving. Perhaps the greatest gift of all is the gift of life, and you can give that gift at no cost to you by donating blood through the American Red Cross. The holiday season is always a time of need for blood, so please consider becoming a donor this year. You also get peace of mind, as your blood is checked for numerous diseases and the Red Cross will contact you if there are any problems with it. Your blood may just be responsible for saving someone’s life, what better gift could you give?

I wish to extend holiday greetings to all who read this – Happy New Year, as well.

I’d love to hear from you readers. Let me know if you liked this article, or even if you did not like it. You may contact me at: ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

Holiday story #1

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.

School Daze …

Public Information:

Worcester Public Schools 2011 – 2012 School Year and Days Off/Holidays
STUDENTS REPORT FOR SCHOOL AS FOLLOWS:

PRE-SCHOOLS
PRE-SCHOOL STUDENTS will report on September 6, 2011, as stated in the individual notification letter sent to parents.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS will begin school on September 6, 2011. The Worcester Public Schools will be screening Kindergarten children by appointment on August 31st, September 1st and September 2nd. If your child does not have an appointment for screening, contact the school your child is registered at after August 22nd.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 1-6
(all students)

MIDDLE SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 7 &8
(all students)

HIGH SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 9-12 (all students)

HEADSTART

HEADSTART STUDENTS will report as stated in the individual notification letter sent to parents.

ELEMENTARY NEW STUDENT REGISTRATIONS:
All registration for elementary schools, PreK, Kindergarten through Grade 6, will be conducted at the following location:

Dr. James L. Garvey Center for Parent Information
768 Main Street
Tel: 799-3194, 799-3450
Monday – Friday: 7:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Evening appointments are available by appointment only beginning August 31, 2011.
Please call Bob Vartanian at 508-799-3194 or 508-799-3450 for an appointment.

MIDDLE SCHOOL REGISTRATIONS:
New student registrations will be conducted at the home school or at the
following location:
Dr. James L. Garvey Center for Parent Information
768 Main Street
Tel: 799-3194, 799-3450
Monday – Friday: 7:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Evening appointments are available by appointment only beginning August 31, 2011.
Please call Bob Vartanian at 508-799-3194 or 508-799-3450 for an appointment.
Beginning August 17th

* University Park Campus School’s students register at the school.
Transfers between Worcester Public Schools’ Middle Schools: parent/guardian should go to the sending school to get a transfer slip and return any books and materials to the sending school. Then take this transfer slip to the receiving school to complete the transfer.

SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL REGISTRATIONS:
New student registrations can be completed at the home high school.
Dates: August 23rd , 24th , 25th, 26th and 29th , and 30th
Time: 9:00 – 12:00 noon
or at the following location:
Dr. James L. Garvey Center for Parent Information
768 Main Street
Tel: 799-3194, 799-3450
Monday – Friday: 7:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Evening appointments are available by appointment only beginning August 31, 2011.
Please call Bob Vartanian at 508-799-3194 or 508-799-3450 for an appointment.

Transfers between Worcester Public Schools’ High Schools: parent/guardian should go to the sending school to get a transfer slip and return any books and materials to the sending school. Then Take this transfer slip to the receiving school to complete the transfer.

*University Park Campus School and Worcester Technical High School registrations are completed at the schools.

CAFETERIA
All schools will be serving breakfast and a hot lunch on August 31, 2011.

*******************************
DAYS OFF/HOLIDAYS!

2011:
August 29 – Teacher/Staff Reporting Day
August 30 – Staff Development
August 31 – First Day of School

DAYS OFF:

September 5 – Labor Day

October 7 – Staff Development

October 10 -Columbus Day

November 11 – Veterans’ Day

November 23-25– Thanksgiving

December 23-30 – Holiday Vacation

2012
January 2 – Non-School Day

January 16 – Martin Luther King

February 20 – Presidents’ Day

February 21-24 – Winter Vacation

April 6 – Non-School Day

April 16 – Patriots’ Day

April 17-20 – Spring Vacation

May 28 – Memorial Day

June 14 – Last Day of School