And so, once again, it is Christmas, time for the three F’s and a W. That’s Family, Friends, Food, and Wine.
I’ve been doing lots of Christmas-y things all month: Volunteering for Christmas in the City, a big party for families living in shelters, followed by a massive gifting event for those in need (but in permanent housing). Here I am at Somerville’s Flatbread Pizza – that’s me in the Santa cap – which did a fundraiser for CITC last week.
While Christmas in the City is hectic, crazy fun, my favorite volunteering gig is at St. Francis House, New England’s largest day shelter for the poor and homeless. I’m a regular-irregular in both the kitchen and in clothing distribution, where I work side-by-side with some of the kindest and most dedicated volunteers you’ll find anywhere. Some are in their 80’s and have been helping out at SFH for decades. (If you have some end of year donation money burning a hole in your pocket, St. Francis House makes an excellent choice.)This is a phenomenal organization that, for thousands of individuals each year, takes care of the most basic of needs for food, clothing, and shelter, on up through career exploration and housing. SFH saves lives and changes lives, and never loses sight of the dignity and worth of those who come in through its doors.
SFH has just purchased the building across the street, and later this month there’ll be a groundbreaking ceremony for the repurposed building. Wonderfully, the annex will include some new units of permanent, affordable housing. Downtown Boston is full of new kabillion dollar condos aimed at financial titans, empty nesters moving in from the ‘burbs after making a killing on their house sale, and the international set looking to park money and/or set up a swank place for their offspring to live while they’re in Boston or Cambridge for school. The housing we’ll be providing is aimed at a different audience. I couldn’t be more thrilled!
I haven’t done any SFH volunteering this month, as I’ve been laying off an ankle with some small tears to tendons and ligaments. (Don’t ask.) But – ligaments and tendons be damned – I’ve signed up for a couple of shifts this coming week. And I’m much looking forward to it.
Overall, I’ve increased my volunteering this year. Just goes to show that semi-retirement is an excellent place to be. The coming year I may transition to full retirement. Maybe.
There’s been other Christmas stuff I’ve been doing, as well, starting with the tree lighting on Boston Common. Oooh. Aaahhh. (I hope they keep the lights up until spring. It’s quite comforting and cheery to have them brighten the way if, on a winter’s night, I find myself crossing the Common. Then there was the Celtic Sojourn concert, and Christmas at the Boston Pops.
As for Christmas-Christmas, I host Family on Christmas Eve, so I’ll have plenty of Food around for the duration of the holidays. Not to mention Wine. So there’ll be lots of good cheer for Friends – I’m expecting a couple of drop ins - who make their way to my place over the coming week. (Maybe I’ll be able to palm whatever I get stuck with from the Yankee Swap off on one of those unsuspecting friends…)
Christmas Day I’ll spend at my cousin Barbara’s, keeping a tradition going in which at least one part of the Rogers family has spent Christmas with at least one part of the Wheeler family (Margaret Rogers Wheeler was my father’s sister) since 1946, my mother’s first year in Worcester. Barbara, who was a little girl that year, has been the constant for all those years.
Before I head out to Barbara’s for Christmas Dinner, I will take a walk, keeping a tradition going in which I walk at least 10,000 steps every day – a tradition that I’ve been personally observing since last January. Most likely, I’ll walk through the Public Garden, by Mrs. Mallard and her offspring. Stars of the classic children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings, these little guys live practically in my front yard, and never fail to put a smile on my face. They always have little knit caps on in winter, and while I would have preferred them in something more colorful, these will keep them warm. (At least until the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl and they don their Pats caps and scarves.)
There’s another tradition, one falling somewhere between Barbara’s unbroken string of Christmases with at least one representative of the Rogers family, and my newer Fitbit tradition. And that’s Pink Slip’s taking off Christmas week.
I’ll be back in the New Year.
Meanwhile, on Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day, one filled with Family, Friends, Food and, of course, Wine (if you’re so inclined).