Parrywinkle December 15, 2016

Sheesh, to think that as of today, Thursday, December 15, Christmas Eve is just nine days away. Where has this past year gone? Seems like only yesterday that we were taking our tree down in the house and here we are already putting it up again.

Bringing up from the basement boxes full of twinkling lights - some of which are definitely not twinkling anymore but, hey, what's new? - decorations, tinsel, ribbons, wrappings, and all of the festive treasures that my beautiful Sunshine and I have collected over the years. And what good memories they conjure up.

We have the sparkling ornaments - still in their original boxes - that Mireille and her Mom hung on their tree when she was just a little girl, and today more precious to us than gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The special decorations that we have bought in our travels around the world. And the hand-made angel that we have treasured ever since receiving it as a gift from the daughter of my beloved late sister, Kathleen.

And then there is the golden garland that we have always hung and always festooned with hand-written Christmas cards picked up at the Post Office here in Hudson on Oakland Street from friends and business acquaintances alike. Truth be told, it has definitely been trimmed in recent years as ever-more e-mail cards arrive on our 'puter. Often with several other recipients’ names attached just so that you know that you are also in the loop and that the sender didn't want you to be felt forgotten.

And, of course - lest you accuse me of being an old bah humbug - there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just a sign of the times, I guess. And, for better or worse, we have to get used to it! And which is why I so enjoy at this festive time of year some old-fashioned traditions that, for decades, have become part and parcel of our celebrations here in our little hamlet by the lake.

Beginning this week with a tradition first launched in Como at St. Mary's Parish Hall 35 years ago by Frank Cobbett. Namely, the St. Mary's Family Carol Sing. But more about that later.


100 YEARS YOUNG AT HEART - Right now, let's step back in time to a century ago and this past Saturday, December 10, at that very same hall when a very special lady celebrated a very special birthday with friends from throughout the region in fine fettle. Her 100th to be exact!

And her name? Helen Russell. Affectionately known as Aunt Helen to hundreds who have come to know and love her over the years as the niece of Gerdy Goudron, founder of Gerdy's Rescues & Adoptions, an animal rescue organization that has provided countless families throughout the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region with adopted cats and dogs that might otherwise have been put down. It was quite a party dear readers! ----------------------------------------

KEEPING THE LIGHT SHINING - Speaking of Christmas cards - as I was earlier - and just in time for the season's first major snowfall this week, I’m delighted to report that Pure Art's annual Christmas card collection is now in the store at 422 Main Road. Titled The Lightkeeper and with six different cards, it comes as the fourth instalment in the Moon's Daughter series.

Again with a beautiful short story written by Liam McKinnon about reigniting hope for each other, and the world, enchanting illustrations by his brother, Sebastian, and with 100 per cent of the proceeds directed to the Pure Art Foundation's One School for All initiative in Peru, they are truly breathtakingly beautiful. We are even planning on framing a couple to enjoy year-round.

Moreover, they are made even more poignant this year, as Ben - the late brother of Sebastien, Liam, Sam and Renault - and known by his parents Robert and Brigitte, family, and friends as The Lightkeeper - passed away earlier this year.

Thanks to generous sponsors involved in the printing of the cards - which sell for just $10 a pack - all the money will be going to help sponsor the education of over 300 youngsters in the Amazon city of Pucallpa. Including providing them with schoolbooks, uniforms, and all the materials they require for a good education that so many Canadians, let's be honest, just take for granted.

So if you would like to help keep the light shining while making some recipients very happy, pop by the store or go on line at The McKinnons and the kids in Peru will love you for it!


MEET PHILLY RACCOON - Also at the store this Saturday, December 17, and for the very same cause, will be local author Philip Oldfield, who will be signing and selling all three of his books including The Chronicles of Philly Raccoon which, he says, takes a humourous look at his terminal neurological condition.

For Philip, who lives in Rigaud, has what is known as Multiple System Atrophy which has been discovered to be caused by prions - similar to Mad Cow Disease - within the last year. All the proceeds will be going to the Pure Art Foundation's Peru 2017 projects and Philip will be there from 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As to why a raccoon is the central character in the book, Philip told me, “When I lived in Hudson, we had a family of raccoons in our back garden and, one day, I came face to face with one. We kind of stared at each other, out of curiosity more than anything else, and became instant friends.”

Laughed Philip, “Let's face it, why not a raccoon? They are curious, intelligent, mischievous, and bold. It was very easy for me, because of my somewhat unusual character, to see my situation through the eyes of a raccoon.” And what can one possibly add to that?


THE BELLS ARE RINGING - And now back to St. Mary's at 273 Main Road where this Saturday, December 17, the spotlight will be on the Turtle Pond Lane Gang, Together Ensemble, and James Armstrong and his minstrel friends as well as everyone attending the traditional Carol Sing at 4 p.m..

This is really one of the fun events of the festive season folks, as everyone is invited to take along their biggest or loudest bells and ring them throughout the hour or so of carol singing conducted by inimitable emcee, Frank Royle. Accompanied by such diverse instruments as keyboards, guitars, drums, coronet, mandolin, bass, violins, and even melodeon which, I learned, is actually a button accordion played by Michael Elliott.

What's more, there's absolutely no charge whatsoever although freewill donations are always welcome. Oh yes, you will also be invited to eat as many gingerbread cookies as you like, compliments of St. Mary's famous gingerbread baker, Elizabeth Dempsey. And sherry will be served to the adults, and apple juice to the youngsters. And I do believe that Santa will be dropping by to join in the fun.

I'll be there with bells on. Well, carrying one at least. How about you?


CRETINOUS MORONS - Meanwhile, would love to use a big bell to knock some sense into the cretinous morons who this week dug under the snow to unplug a beautiful illuminated Christmas display in the garden of an elderly Hudson resident plunging it into darkness.

Her caregivers had installed it to bring some joy into her life at this very special time of year and the plugs were carefully wrapped in white plastic bags and were certainly not visible from the road. The good news is that it is now back up and lit for not only the homeowner, but all who pass, to enjoy.

Hope the idiots who did it get what's coming to them this holiday season. Namely, nothing!

And that's a wrap!


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