Banishing the Grinch from Christmas

When I walked into my 87-year-old friend's kitchen, she didn't even say hello. Instead, she said, "I hate Christmas. Well, not when the kids were little. But now. I hate Christmas."

She motioned to the envelopes, cards, an address book and pen spread out on the table. But I knew the real reason. Last year, on Christmas Day, her only daughter had died. I can't imagine facing Christmas under such circumstances. So I looked her in the eye and said, "If I were in your shoes, I'd hate Christmas, too."

She nodded.  Her eyes said it all.

Then, I started admiring the really clever Christmas cards she had chosen, which had been designed by a British artist. And we got into quite a discussion about artists, family histories and generator installations in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Out of the blue she said, "Before you leave I have to show you the dog."

She explained that she had gone to all the CVS drugstores in our area trying to find more dogs just like the one she was going to show me. She wanted to have one for herself and give others to friends and family. She had managed to snag only three.

There on the kitchen counter sat a stuffed dog. She pushed the "Push Here" button on his paw. And the dog started singing a Christmas song, moving around and flapping his ears in time to the music.We both burst out laughing.

"Isn't he great?" she asked.

I left her house marveling at how the Grinch hadn't actually gotten away with stealing my neighbor's Christmas completely. She still had a lot of resilience and even Christmas spirit left. That's probably why she's lived so long.

Still, in this highly commercial world, I hope we can all keep the true spirit of Christmas and this multi-cultural Holiday Season alive. Joy, peace, hope, love. Let the light of what's ultimately good overcome the darkness. 

Candlelight Concert at First Congregational Church - Free Rides from Gallivant

Christmas Candlelight Concert at First Congregational Church

Get in the Christmas spirit at the beloved annual Candlelight Concert at The First Congregational Church of Darien on Sunday, December 9, at 7:00 p.m. The evening will feature performances by The Darien High School Tudor Singers under the direction of Chris Andrade, the church’s Senior Choir soloists, world-class pianist Max Pakhomov, and a carol sing-along. Dan Hague, First Congregational’s Music Director, has also promised “a few surprises.”

John Stuart, Chair of the church’s Music Committee, said, “This is a Christmas gift to our entire community. I find the concert very special, even magical. It’s an event that simply is not to be missed, and all are welcome.”

There is no charge for the concert, but the church will be collecting a free-will offering to benefit ElderHouse of Norwalk, CT, one of the worthy causes supported by the church’s Outreach efforts. ElderHouse Adult Day Center is committed to providing aging seniors with a safe, nurturing environment where they can share time with others while receiving the care they need. Learn more about Elderhouse at

For Darien seniors 60+ who would like a ride to and from this evening event, Aging in Place+Gallivant is offering free transportation using their volunteer Friendly Drivers. Just call Gina Blum, Executive Director, at 203-585-4094. Aging in Place+Gallivant is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization whose mission is to help older adults in Darien to live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes for as long as possible. It is generously supported by community members, including the First Congregational Church. Learn more at
The First Congregational Church of Darien, UCC, is located at 14 Brookside Road in Darien. For more information about the concert, please visit the church website at or call the church office at 203-655-0491.