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Fairfield Village 12-20-2017

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Residents discuss Christmas traditions

By Priscilla Barnett

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While I was asking folks to contribute to our stories of Christmas and holiday traditions, I found one overwhelming commonality. Christmas is family.
No doubt about it…”the most wonderful time of the year” is just that when we are with those most special in our lives.
There are all kinds of ways to celebrate the season; however, the real joy obviously comes from being with and doing special things with those we call “family.” Sometimes those people are blood relatives—sometimes they are “family we adopt”—but always we are sharing this holy time with loved ones. It is just what makes Christmas so very special to all of us.
Many of our “snowbirds” do fly home for Christmas and then return around New Year’s to stay in sunny Central Florida until late spring when many fly to the North again to enjoy the cooler climates of their original homes.
Carol and Jim Meissner are two very special people who make Fairfield Village their winter home. However, they do return with their gorgeous little “snow” white Shih Tzu, Bailee to New York for the holidays. Bailee is my Baby Bear’s special friend, and he was as thrilled as a little dog can be to get his Christmas card from his girlfriend. We are mailing her reciprocal card today with one of Baby Bear’s special treats enclosed to share with darling Bailee as her holiday treat.
Carol’s family has had more than its share of illness and injury over the past couple of years, but we are all thrilled to hear that her granddaughter, her son, and her husband, Jim, are all doing much better this year. The Meissners are planning lots of family fun and frolicking in the cold weather in upstate New York. We send them all our love and “best wishes for the snow”…which, by the way, they can keep up there, please.
Jane Sibley is from Connecticut; and traditionally, she returns for most of the month of December to be with her only son and only grandson to celebrate this happy season. Jane is part of a very big family, several of whom live here in Fairfield Village part, if not all, of the year. Her brother Ed and wife Sue have a winter home just across the street from Jane, and they traditionally come for an extended period several times a year. Usually, they are part of our community in February and then again in the summer when they bring their grandchildren with them to enjoy the many fun activities here in Central Florida.
Ethel Dearing’s Christmas focus is largely with her son, Terry and his wife along with her many friends and church family here in Ocala. Ethel has been a greeter for her church for many years and thoroughly enjoys bringing even more Christmas cheer as she welcomes members and guests for this holiest of seasons.
Ethel was one of the original neighbors here in Fairfield Village when she came here with her husband, Leo, from Indiana. Sadly, Leo passed away soon after their moving here over 22 years ago, but Ethel has been a vital part of Fairfield Village ever since she moved here. Although she is 91 years young, one would never guess it because she is beautiful and lively and stays busy with her many friends and activities. Ethel Dearing is one of our FFV angels year round…not just at Christmas.
Even though they have family back in New Jersey, Ed and Frann Glenney have a good number of their immediate family living fairly close by here in Florida. Their adorable little granddaughter, Lydia, is a regular part of our community especially in the summer time when school is not in session. Any time of the year, Lydia loves riding around with her grandparents in their golf cart to give “doggy treats” to her canine friends. She is another one of Fairfield Village’s special little angels, not just at Christmas.
Although another Glenney granddaughter, Denise, had to have major surgery just a few months ago, the good news is that she is recuperating splendidly and the Glenneys will be able to celebrate together this Christmas as they have for many years in the past. Family is the most important thing for this loving group, and we wish them health and happiness in the coming year.
Mickey and Marv Thiele have become integral parts of our community since they moved here permanently after being snowbirds for a number of years previously. The Thieles have initiated the praise group known as the “Faith-Fiilled Villagers” and they led the Christmas celebration by those who attended on Sunday night, December 10th. Part of Mickey and Marv’s Christmas celebration this year will involve a trip to Branson, Missouri to enjoy the great Christmas shows this year. Your writer is a bit envious but will manage to wave and wish them a wonderful trip
I met Sandy Mooring just yesterday (as I write this), and I was so pleased to make a new friend. Sandy is recuperating from a recent stroke, but she looks great, and I certainly would never have known that she had been ill. She was walking briskly with her physical therapist (a beautiful young lady with a gorgeous smile) when my little “therapy dog” decided to make a stop to enroll a new friend in his list. Baby Bear was delighted when Sandy enjoyed petting him.
When I asked about her Christmas traditions, Sandy recalled Christmases when she was a young teen back in her home state of Maine. She said that she and a group of 3 or 4 girlfriends always went ice skating on Christmas afternoon. It sounded like great fun to me, but the idea of “ice” and “skating” both bring back memories of some of the most embarrassing falls I ever had in front of other people.
Not everyone is as “klutzy” as this writer, but many of you will understand and appreciate what I mean. The embarrassment was always worse than the pain…at that moment anyway. Later, however, the pain would set in to remind me over and over that I am the one person in my family who neither athletic nor graceful!
The Morris family tells us about times back in Georgia when the family and many close friends would gather on Christmas Eve to attend Christmas Eve services at the First Baptist Church. Their particular church is known for its excellent choir and musicians who put together an outstanding program of Christmas music each year.
After the service, a group of 25 to 30 would go to the Morris’s lovely country home and enjoy a jovial time with Mrs. Morris serving her famous Southern Ambrosia (made with all fresh fruits and coconut), special Italian Cream Cake, really delicious homemade fruitcake along with a special Southern Prune Cake. There would also be spiced apple cider, hot cocoa, hot coffee, and “other adult beverages” that would be enjoyed either by the fire in the big fireplace or outside around the fire pit--weather permitting.
Then, just before time for the children to go home to get to bed, someone would say, “Listen…did you hear that? I heard Santa’s sleigh bells!”
As the jingling would get louder and louder, the adult announcing Santa’s sleigh would continue, “Hurry…get home and into bed so Santa can bring your toys!”
The children would all be mesmerized as they heard the sound of sleigh bells outside growing louder and louder. The parents would rush the children into their warm coats and hurry them to their respective cars before Santa could get to their homes to deliver their surprises for Christmas Day.
Tonight, at the Annual Meeting of the Homeowners Association, the president’s wife, Carol Neal told me that her family just received the best early Christmas gift possible. They were blessed with a new, healthy baby grandson whose name is Radson Dean. Congratulations to Jim and Carol Neal and to all their family.
Special family news, wonderful traditions … happy stories … joy of the season…all these are part of the stories shared by some of the “lively “folks who live in our “lovely” community known as Fairfield Village. Living here among good and faithful friends is a blessing year round.
Merry, Merry Christmas! May the Joy of the birth of the Christ Child stay with us all through the New Year of 2018.
And quoting Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’s The Christmas Carol, “God bless us every one!”