family has its own Christmas stories. Some stories are funny, some sad,
and some are about the "interesting"characters
that every family can claim. All of those stories help form our individual
family lore and Christmas traditions.
I may be so bold, our family Christmas story is one that
O'Henry himself might envy.
It's a story that lingers with me each Christmas
and is repeated every year when our family gathers. I will tax your
attention only with the abridged version, while attempting to provide all
the most pertinent details...
of this is true...
story involves an uncle who had married into our family. He had come to us
from the northern-most reaches of Vermont, having been raised in a lumber
camp and having grown up performing physical labor that few of us could
imagine. Through his teen years, he worked on a sawing dock, cutting a
cord of firewood each day with a bucksaw. Having left school by the sixth
grade, he could barely read, though his basic math skills were quite good.
His real talent lay in two areas: (1) he had retained an amazing level of
strength (while adding considerable girth over the years) and had an
amazing ability to disassemble and repair anything. No industrial machine
or automobile could claim to have defeated him. This is without
exaggeration. The man's problem-solving skills
and manual dexterity were undeniable.
we appreciated my uncle's abilities and knew
that he somehow loved us, we can come to know him mostly for his terrible
temper. Few, if any, family gatherings would be spared his phenomenal
outbursts. We never new what might set him off. So, there was no strategy
that might help us fend off the expletive-seasoned rantings and ravings
for which he was so famous. We always forgave him, realizing that his life
(especially his teen years) had shortened the fuse that was always ready
to be ignited. At least he was an equal-opportunity curmudgeon, treating
the public to his "special
moments"as often as he did his
my aunt died, my uncle moved back to the northern limits of Vermont to be
with his family and friends from that past and harsh life. We never fully
understood this move as he lived in the most backwoods location to be
found. Visitors literally had to drive along a small stream to get to him
as there was no road for access.
would return to Manchester from Thanksgiving to Christmas, having retained
his home here. We would brace ourselves for the extended temper tantrum
that would mark the Advent Season. Would the stuffing provoke an insult?
Would we inadvertently say something cheery and unleash that incredible
store of anger and hurt from many childhood hardships and disappointments.
For seven more years, our holidays were punctuated by the level of
Christmas joy that only he could bring!
one year, Thanksgiving arrived as did our uncle. But something was wrong!
There were no invectives. There was none of the holiday fury we had all
grown accustomed to. In their place was a calm and genuine spirit of
appreciation. We were all a bit confused. That Thanksgiving could rival
the best images that advertising experts could muster. We were truly
days after that Thanksgiving, each family member received a visit from the
man who"claimed"to be
our uncle. The visits were quite strange. He announced to each of us that
he had to return to Vermont and might not be able to make it back in time
for Christmas. Therefore, he wanted to give each of us an early Christmas
gift. He was pleasant and kind and completely out of character. He left
shortly after, returning to "God
knows what!"along the Vermont/Canadian
week before Christmas, we received a call from one of his friends. He had
been out to dinner the night before, had met friends for breakfast, and
while belly-laughing at some remark from the previous evening, dropped
was some time after the funeral that we learned that our uncle had learned
just prior to the holidays that he had suffered a series of silent heart
attacks and that his days were numbered. This man who had spent the
majority of his life cursing out anyone within earshot had, without
telling anyone of his condition, made the most uncharacteristic choice of
his life. That Christmas, his last Christmas, he made the choice to be as
Christlike as one could imagine. He put everyone first, appreciated every
moment left to him, and gave simply for the sake of giving.
we opened our gifts from him, we found cards inscribed with his rough hand
and simple words. His gifts were generous indeed. But much more than that,
we remained and remain awestruck by the manner in which this man had
transformed his life and chosen to live in the spirit of Christmas.
Without exaggeration, I think I can say that our
family's Christmas story is something of a
wish for all of our families is that the miracle that is Christmas reaches
all of us as deeply as it did that man who remains our
family's annual story and whose lasting memory
is one of kindness and love.
you a Merry & Blessed Christmas.
We at STJ wish you a merry and blessed Christmas!
We have a group of young men who had t-shirts made for their poverty
project. They are pink with a purple design (The shirt can be seen on Ms.
Martineau's bulletin board.). The shirts are $15.00, and all proceeds will
go to the New Horizons Soup Kitchen. The shirts come in adult sizes: M, L,
and XL. Please contact STJ if interested in purchasing one of the
Tomorrow will be a dress-up day. We begin with a prayer service with
Msgr. Anthony. The band will share their Christmas Concert with us, and
then we will proceed to the Palace Theater for "A Christmas Carol."
Friday is a special dress-up day. We will be going to Mass with Trinity
High School. This is a full day of classes. There will be no after school
activities because everyone will be on vacation!
When we return from vacation, there will be a week of review before the
midterms (Jan.12th - Jan. 14th). All students should bring home notebooks
and workbooks to start their review during vacation.
Please check out our new Facebook page at
If you take any pictures at a sporting event and would like to share on
the STJ Facebook page, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send close up pictures where the athletes' faces are recognizable.
Thursday, December 18th: Varsity travels to Wilton, and the girls will
Tuesday, January 6th: JV's play at home against Rundlett.
Thursday, January 8th: Varsity travels to Auburn. JV's play at home
If you have a change of email address or a landline or cell phone
number change, please notify the office right away both so we can keep you
informed of school events and and so we have a working number in case of