2016: Embracing the spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and finding the key to the childhood joy

My desk all decorated for Christmas, 1981

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2016

It’s early December and I am wondering in a store or two, looking at the rows of decorations, wrap, candy and Christmas merchandise lining the shelves. I find myself lost in nostalgia this evening, recalling a time, as a kid, when I would race to the stores and just window shop for hours, looking at all the Christmas decorations and then excitedly continue preparation for Christmas at home.

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Where Are You Christmas? The Christmas Season Doesn’t Start in September

Store Display - Christmas Lights. Robert Gillis Photo
Store Display – Christmas Lights. Robert Gillis Photo

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper 1/2016

My grandmother – God rest her soul – had a holiday tradition that was not exactly beloved. EVERY Christmas – without exception – at some point on Christmas Day, she would say, “Well, Christmas is as far away as it ever is.” As I recall, one year she said it while we were still opening presents early in the morning.

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Fun with Facebook: Christmas 2015 edition!

Christmas Still Life - Red And Green Christmas Bulbsby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper December, 2015

Welcome to Christmas fun with Facebook, 2015 edition!

 

Mark Cohen: “December 24th, 9:00PM:   Benny wants ALL the RENT, and I’m starting a film documentary but I’m not sure how to begin because real life is so scary and sad.”

  • Bob Gillis: Well, let me write a funny Christmas column to take your mind off all that for a little while.
  • Mark Cohen: Cool, thanks.
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Be part of the LIGHT this holiday season in Foxboro

12274676_10153413171093547_1147151410462871176_nBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 11/2015

Recently, we had a special Diwali celebration at lunch time at work. Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights,” is an ancient Hindu festival. Among other things, it celebrates the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

I was very moved by the beauty of the celebration. Many people dressed in beautiful gowns and robes, and they explained the origins of the holiday, how they celebrate it, sang a song, and treated us to AMAZING Indian cuisine.

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A little Christmas miracle as the Foxboro Jaycees decorate Foxboro Common

Let there be light -- Jaycee David Fisler, left reacts as the power is restored to the common at the exact moment Paul Lanza places the angel on the Foxboro Common bandstand.  Photo by Robert Gillis
Let there be light — Jaycee David Fisler, left reacts as the power is restored to the common at the exact moment Paul Lanza places the angel on the Foxboro Common bandstand. Photo by Robert Gillis

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 12/2014

This story begins with a very nice affirmation. Christmas miracles – they still happen.

And it should be noted before I go further I swear this is true; and there are witness and photographs!

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Christmas 2013 at Mom’s house

Christmas Tree

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2013

It’s Christmastime, 2013, and Mom has just come home carrying bags of Chinese Food.

The Christmas tree at my Mom’s house is all lit up, reflected in the gorgeous mirror that hanged over my grandmother’s fireplace for many decades.

The tree is an artificial tree; it has been since back in 1976 when I was NOT messing around with the electric cords as usual and I was NOT anywhere near the real tree, when a piece of metal tinsel SOMEHOW leapt into the extension cord at the exact moment the plug somehow got into the socket, causing a brilliant flash of light, exploded the top of the extension cord and filled the room with the smell of ozone.

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A Christmas prayer for the victims of Sandy Hook

Dick Kulpa, Captain Cartoon.com
Dick Kulpa, Captain Cartoon.com

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2012

All I want to write this week is a goofy op/ed piece making fun of the 12/21/2012 Apocalypse that wasn’t. I want to be funny and have a little Christmas cheer.

But the world DID end last week for a lot of people in Newtown Connecticut.

And last Friday evening, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I did something somewhat uncharacteristic for me: I burst into tears, listening to the news reports coming in from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro — it’s more than just Christmas Lights

Note: Originally published 11/28/2012, and one of the most important pieces I have ever written, please note the following:

  • The 2012 concerts noted here have obviously taken place; CLICK HERE FOR THE LA SALETTE WEB SITE for current events
  • I’m happy to report that Father Pat has recovered and looks great and continues his concert series and work at the shrine.
  • The annual lighting continues each year between Thanksgiving and the Sunday before Little Christmas in January, celebrating its 63rd year in 2016!
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Retro-Review “A Christmas Carol” (1951)

by Robert Gillis 1/2012

There have been countless adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” over the last century. One of my annual Christmas traditions is to watch several of them. This is one of my very favorites…

Version: 1951 (VCI Entertainment)

Note: The film was released in Great Britain under the title, “Scrooge.” United Artists released the film in the States as “A Christmas Carol.”

Scrooge: Alastair Sim

Cast: Kathleen Harrison (Mrs. Dilber), Mervyn Johns (Bob Cratchit), Hermione Baddeley (Mrs.

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A letter to Mom on Christmas Day

Downtown Boston Christmas StarBy Robert Gillis

Sent to Mom Christmas, 2005
And published in the Boston City Paper 11/2011

I thought I would share a letter I wrote to my Mom on Christmas a few years back. I emailed it to her this morning and she loved these wonderful memories, and I thought it would bring a smile to the readers during this Christmas month.

Dear Mom,

Over twenty-five years ago, you, Theresa and I would make our annual Christmas shopping trip into Boston an extremely enjoyable day.

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‘Tis the season to be generous

Christmas Still Life - Salvation ArmyBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 12/2011

“I have always thought of Christmas time, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

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Fun with Facebook: Christmas 2010 edition!

Christmas Still Life - Red And Green Christmas Bulbsby Robert Gillis
published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 12/2010

Welcome to “Fun with Facebook, Christmas edition…”

Frosty the Snowman: Happy birthday! Hey, I said my first words. But… But snowmen can’t talk or use Facebook! What’s going on??!!

  • Karen: Our snowman came alive! There must have been some magic in that old top hat they found!
  • Professor Hinkle: It’s my hat and I want it back. NOW.

 

Virginia O’Hanlon: I am 8 years old.

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What if “The Christmas Song” were written in 2010?

Downtown Boston Christmas FilenesBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper

It’s Thanksgiving, Christmas songs are being played 24/7, and one of the most beloved (read: incessantly overplayed) Christmas tunes is, “The Christmas Song”, commonly subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or “Merry Christmas to You”, or, “Oh, by gosh by golly, do they play ANYTHING else this time of year?!” or, “Is it just me, or is it kind of creepy when Natalie Cole sings that song with her dead father?”

The song is considered a classic and was written in 1944 by vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells and made famous by Nat King Cole, or so I read on Wikipedia.

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Foxboro Jaycees 2009 Christmas Activities

by Robert Gillis Published in the Foxboro Reporter 12/2009

As a very proud member of the Foxboro Jaycees since 1993, I have seen first hand the fantastic work this group does for Foxboro — Community development, donations, scholarships, and creating better leaders are just some of the things we do every day.

Without question, December is the Jaycees’ busiest Community Development month of the year. For example, you may not know that the Christmas and Holiday decorations around Foxboro Common are put up and taken down by the Jaycees each year, and we have placed the Nativity set on the common for the last fifty years, on the bandstand the Jaycees built.

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Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes, Virginia, he knows that the world is ending in 2012

Quincy Christmas LightsBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 12/2009

“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. “Some of my BFFs and Frenemys say there will be no Christmas in 2012 because the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 — four days before Christmas. Last year (and the year before, and the year before) you told me Santa Claus DOES exist. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE FOXBORO REPORTER it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; if Santa Claus does exist, what is he doing to ensure we have Christmas in 2012?

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