It is a a fun challenge to decorate a 12-foot tree. Photo contributed.

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.”    ~ Sharon Draper

Having your sip of joy might be easier than you think. Just remembering where you’ve tasted it before might help you notice it when it appears again. (It’s not that far away.) There is a particularly majestic sycamore tree on Falls Road that I am always happy to see. It is just glorious—and even better in the winter. When the leaves come down, the revealed structure of certain trees make me smile. (Dare I say they give me joy?) Do you have any favorite trees? 

A joyful event at the Senior Center was our Annual Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, which was held the week before the official holiday. It was truly a masterpiece in organization and volunteerism, coordinated by Wednesday lunch’s Susan Spafford and assisted by board member Sukey Condict. More than 25 volunteers contributed their time in shopping, defrosting, chopping, braising, cooking, baking, setting up (chairs, tables, tablecloths, dishes, silverware, flowers) and cleaning up. On the menu was the traditional turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin bread and apple pie—everything homemade and absolutely delicious.

Despite the days of busy-ness, the 100+ guests were probably unaware of the work behind the scenes and were served graciously and gracefully by volunteer servers. For cleanup, our male dishwashing crew went to work—and in a very short time all was back the way it had been. The hard work, good food and communal spirit contributed to a sense of happy accomplishment when it was over for another year. The whole operation would make a wonderful documentary (or a training video) on how to successfully stage a large, complex event. 

Our weekly “food events” on Mondays and Wednesdays are also noteworthy examples of teamwork and joyful labor—and great food! The folks who prepare the meals on these days have told me that it’s the sound of laughter and conversation that are their rewards—perhaps more than the well-deserved compliments they receive about their cooking.

If you are a guy and have yet to come to a Gents Breakfast, call today and make your reservation. Then, tomorrow (12/13), set your alarm for early and venture out for the 7:30 a.m. event, which usually ends by 9:00 p.m. (Taking a power nap in the afternoon is allowed.) This is a welcoming group of seasoned fellows from many backgrounds who are good at cooking and talking. Just consider them friends you haven’t met yet. 

And one last important food note is a reminder that on Monday, Dec. 17, Chef Roland from The Old Lantern will be returning to create another Monday luncheon. The menu will be chef’s choice, and it will be serving from 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. You might plan on arriving no later than noon so as not to miss out. 

Wednesday events
After lunch at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays in December, there are a variety of events. Today, 12/12, is Wrapping Up a Good Read. Librarians Cheryl Sloan, Susanna Kahn and Georgia Edwards will come by the Senior Center to share book shopping ideas for the holidays. There will be refreshments and book copies available for purchase thanks to the Flying Pig Bookstore.

Next week, on Dec. 19, at 1:00 p.m. is A Cello Quartet for The Holidays. Judy Chavez will return to the Center to lead a small cello choir playing traditional holiday carols from England, France, Spain and the United States. Some will be familiar—and you are invited to sing along.

On Dec. 26, there will be a showing of the beautiful, hour-long documentary, Sabra: The Life and Work of a Vermont Printmaker. You will learn a lot about the artist you thought you knew and see many examples of her works that do not depict Vermont scenes. There will be an opportunity for discussion afterward.

Even our Christmas tree is a volunteer! It’s a 12-footer from the property of Gary and Donna Pittman, who have generously given trees since the Center’s beginning. It is decorated with many handmade ornaments from Center participants over the years, and it has a sweet assortment of toys nestled under the branches. Peek in at a lunch time or in the afternoon. (See the times in the art viewing schedule.)

December and January Art Exhibit 
In December and January, the Great Room is the perfect showcase for a wide variety of colorful quilts from members of the Champlain Valley Quilters Association. Somehow, on a cold winter’s day they are warming to look at—even though most of them are not intended to be used as coverlets. They fit so nicely with the Christmas tree in the corner and make the Center feel even more homey than usual. Thank you, talented quilters!

Viewing Art Shows: Since the Center is utilized for many classes and events, the best times to see art shows in December are Tuesdays and Thursdays after 12:30 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays after 2:30 p.m. Please call the Center to check on Sunday availability.   

Coming in January
On Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., Jan. 2, the workshop iPhone Help: Let’s Get Organized will be held. Tech Librarian Susanna Kahn will come to the Senior Center to show you how to use your iPhone (or iPad) calendar and reminder apps. (Everything is easy once you know how.) The program is free, but registration is required. 

On Jan. 9, at 1:00 p.m., Vince Crockenberg will present a slideshow history and discussion of Cuban-American relations, titled Cuba After Fidel. He contributed to the group presentation on Cuba last March, which was well-received. The talk is free, and no registration is necessary.

Closing in December
This holiday season, the Senior Center will be closed all day on Monday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 25. It will close early at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, and will be closed all day on Monday, Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1. 

In the case of bad weather, the Senior Center follows the school closings of the Champlain Valley School District. You can find this information on the CVSD website, on local TV and radio stations, and posted on the Senior Center’s new website.

Recall the feeling of joy when you had snow days off as a child!

See you soon.

Charlotte Senior Center
(802) 425-6345