A Christmas Letter from Mr. Mailloux and the Weekly Memo for December 17, 2014: 


Our Family's Christmas Story

 

Every 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.

 

If 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...

 

All of this is true...

 

The 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.

 

Although 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 family.

 

After 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.

 

He 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!

 

Then, 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 stunned!

 

Several 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 border.

 

A 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 dead!

 

It 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.

 

When 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 miracle story.

 

My 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.

 

Wishing 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 t-shirts.

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 https://www.facebook.com/stjmanchester.

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 dmailloux@trinity-hs.org. Please send close up pictures where the athletes' faces are recognizable. Thank you.

Athletic News:

Thursday, December 18th: Varsity travels to Wilton, and the girls will play first.

Tuesday, January 6th: JV's play at home against Rundlett.

Thursday, January 8th: Varsity travels to Auburn. JV's play at home against Raymond.

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 emergency.

 

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              Why STJ? "...the person you'll ultimately be."

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Our Mission: St. Joseph Regional Junior High School, The Home of the Bears, offers a Catholic education with C.A.R.E.Catholic identity, Academic excellence, Respect for self and others, in an Environment of caring.

 

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