December 24, 2008


Filed under: JOURNAL — carolyncholland @ 2:04 am






The best Christmas gift

is “YOU,” yourself.

Give generously.


Below is a copy of the annual Christmas letter that our family writes each year.

     FROM MONTE: It’s been a busy year, even though I’m retired. I’ve spent a lot of time at home, watching a lot of football and hockey on TV, but I’ve also visited a number of people.
     My 2007 Christmas present to my children fell through as the outdoor Pittsburgh Penguin-Buffalo Sabres hockey game in Buffalo on New Year’s Day sold out before I could get tickets. We went to Buffalo anyway, to attend the funeral of our nephew, Todd Jay. I participated in the service, and Nolan read scripture. The funeral home and church were jammed with his co-workers and friends.
     We ventured off to Buffalo again in April, to visit Carolyn’s sister and Todd’s mother, Lee. She’d had a stroke a few weeks earlier. Then, in Cleveland, we celebrated Vince’s 4th birthday, with a large group, at a Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees baseball game.
     I planned on doing some major renovations to our Slippery Rock apartment building in June, but then I discovered that a tenant had moved out without notice. This meant doing a major apartment overhaul in addition to the outside work. I spent a number of partial weeks in Slippery Rock through late August, sleeping on a cot in the furnace room and working ten to twelve hour days. I was surprised how much I was able to do at my age.
     For virtually all of September we were on the road—three days at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; a few days in Rhode Island; several days in Massachusetts (Cape Cod and Weymouth); nine days in Maine (where, in Corinth, we purchased three bundles of shingles for Sandy’s house—their odor perfumed the car for the rest of our travels!); several days in Northern New York, and a couple of days in Buffalo. This was a great trip for seeing people—Tom and Michelle Bartlow in Philadelphia, who took us out on our anniversary (Tom was an usher at our wedding); Lynette and John Klar as we passed through Somerville, NJ; Bob Davis and Gaylord and Dale Bigelow on Cape Cod; Amy and Randy Johnson in Weymouth (outside Boston) for two nights; Erin, Greg, Paige, and Morgan Ireland in Searsport, Maine, attending church, a sports game and the Penobscot Observation tower; WG and Nancy Sayre for breakfast in Ellsworth; Doris and David Desisles in Bangor, Maine, Marge Dier in Edwards, NY. While there, we visited Elwin Holland; Bob and Grace Londraville; Bill and Valerie Pulver, and Amanda, Ethan and little Ethan Reynolds—all in St. Lawrence County. Then  we spent  two nights with Lee in Buffalo.
     The trip produced much research for Carolyn’s journal article and novel. This fall has been a time to give space to Carolyn as she franticly rushes toward her December 31 journal article submission deadline.

     FROM CAROLYN: As Monte noted, we started the year by attending the funeral of my nephew Todd, 39. Something startling came out of that event. His autopsy showed such severe soon-to-be fatal arteriosclerosis, which, my sister was told, produces a chemical that causes severe depression. Much is written about depression after cardiovascular procedures. Little is written about depression being a symptom of, a precursor to, these problems. Is it possible that tests for this chemical can predict oncoming heart conditions, and thus be a means preventing serious problems? I’m sorry to say I haven’t researched this thoroughly yet, but it is on my January 2009 agenda.
     My sister’s stroke affected her speech area, and, as if the stroke wasn’t bad enough, in April, she had a quadruple bypass. Her recovery seems slow to her, but she is really doing well.
     Fortunately, the rest of the year was better. Even I, a serious non-sports person, enjoyed April’s baseball game in Cleveland. In June, Monte learned about his surprise 70th birthday party when Vince (4), Marcus (then almost 2) and Jordan (then 10), woke him from a nap. “What are you doing here?” he asked the boys. Sandy’s July 12th wedding, with surprise bagpipe music and the picnic/pool reception, brought Michael Murawski into our family. In May, we had a reunion with Arlene and twins Sandy and Liz, who dared to live with us in Slippery Rock while they were college students. August was spent preparing for September travel. Interspersed with the research was a tour of the Elms mansion in Newport and locating the Cornell family cemetery (in Rhode Island), a climb to the top of a Cape Cod lighthouse, and a 50-second, 477-foot elevator to the top of the Penobscot River Observatory at Bucksport, Maine. In Maine, I toured the Henry Knox house (Thomaston) and the John Black (Ellsworth). We returned home in time for Ligonier Days and the region’s 250th anniversary celebration, which included a spectacular parade and our writer’s group publication of a booklet of stories about the region. During November I enjoyed our neighbor’s Native American drumming while I wrote. During December, in the midst of completing my journal article and preparing for Christmas, Monte surprised me at a party celebrating my coming to the age that I could do the Medicare-mambo with him.
     The children and grandchildren are all well. Sandy remains our neighbor even after her marriage. Jordan is now a delightful young lady, who told me she will always remember my “messy house” (at least she didn’t say “dirty”). Nolan and Tammy are busy with jobs and two very active boys. Vince loves to give big hugs and talk in Spanish or sign language. Marcus enjoys singing his ABCs, but even more, he revels in singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Kathleen and Jerry continue their active lives in Buffalo, and are dealing with health problems with their children, Lauren, Erik and Alex. The three are delightful young’uns. Alex and I share the same Dec. 10 birthday, and visited on the phone to celebrate.
     To read more in depth about our travels, my future novel, whether I win the journal article competition, or our life happenings, check out my blogsite, especially the categories NEW ENGLAND 2008, 1790s BACKGROUND, and JOURNAL.
Note: December 23, 1:00 p.m., my husband mailed a box with my journal article in it to its destination. Now all we have to do is wait for the notification that I (we) won the competition. And, to be prepared in case we do not win!

The first of the year will bring some interesting posts at CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS as well as at the BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE. Keep tabs on this writers site at Until then, visit the site and scroll down to read posts you may have missed previously. And thank you for being loyal readers! I do appreciate your patronage.


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DAVID PAGE: Notes from St. David’s Writer’s Conference






ALL SUMMER IN A DAY: The Use of Descriptive Language


  1. I enjoyed your holiday letter–especially since it made me think of home. I grew up in Corinth, Maine and had lots of friends who worked the shingle mills there–Jones Mill was the most efficient and best constructed shingle then. I hope you enjoyed my hometown.
    Merry Christmas!

    Comment by James Wilson — December 25, 2008 @ 2:31 am | Reply

  2. Thank you for your comment. We didn’t actually get to spend time in Corinth. However, we did return to the country store in Exeter. I was disappointed that it had changed so much from 2006. I have ancestors from Exeter and Gardner. Walkers and Lords. And others. Have you moved far from your roots? Carolyn

    Comment by carolyncholland — December 25, 2008 @ 4:56 am | Reply

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