My TedTalk Info (to be held at beautiful Salve Regina University)

Here it is–the information several of you have asked about, and thank you for your colleen kelly mellor cropped face sidewaysinterest. Along top row of the site, you’ll see “Purchase Tickets” and also a “Speakers” category, too. By the way, some were confused at the phrase ‘by invitation only’ on some websites. Let me be clear:  All are invited, provided they buy a ticket. The link is as follows.

http://tedxsalveregina.salvereginauniversity.com/

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Latest Reviews of My Guest-Speaking

Dear Colleen,st-lukes

“What a wonderful day we had at Leisure Learning. Everyone was so impressed with your presentation! You have inspired many from the youngest to the oldest.  You know from the audience’s response you held their attention to the very end. I am so proud that I was able to introduce you….” (photo is of St. Luke’s Peirce St., East Greenwich, where I spoke.)

From Eleanor Keating (the woman who booked me), Leisure Learning, East Greenwich, RI

Dede McMahon of Leisure Learning said: “I found (Colleen) to be refreshingly candid and open, exceptionally humorous, and very entertaining….”

____________________________________________

The following is from Director of two elder-living sites in West Warwick where Colleen spoke this fall. Colleen’s now invited to the third site this director oversees in Johnston for a presentation in 2017:

Colleen Mellor and her husband were guest speakers at two of our elder living sites this fall… Plaza Esperanza in West Warwick and another visit to Wildberry Apartments.

“Our experience with Colleen Mellor was extraordinary!

“Colleen was funny and very entertaining. She was a burst of energy for our elder residents.  She inspired them to consider the history of their lives and to be their own memory keepers. Colleen engaged the residents to reminisce…

“I look forward to hosting Colleen and her husband again at our other senior housing sites. Not only is she a wonderful guest speaker, but she is also a genuinely kind person.”

Lucy Goulet, CRSC

Housing Opportunities Corporation

My Grandpa and the Truck books are available at my presentations, and they’re available on our website, too, until Dec. 18 (we can’t guarantee shipment in time for Christmas or other holiday after that date.) I personalize by child’s name if you add in Paypal instructions and I sign as author (how cool is that?) Your intended child gets actual author-signed book, one backed for authenticity by biggest trucking group, OOIDA, and Women in Trucking (WIT) and recommended by teachers, parents, and kids!books-for-yard-sale And contact me if you wish guest-speaker. I’m loving my new role…and apparently audiences do, too.

For children’s books, go to http://www.grandpaandthetruck.com

 

 

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Guest Speaker: Colleen Kelly Mellor

 

leisure-learning-guest-speakingKathleen Monahan of Leisure Learning, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich, says:  “Thank you for the outstanding talk.You positively affect the lives of your audience (that was the talk from the group at lunch.) You gave us energy and courage. We laughed out loud. No one fell asleep. You connected! A good quality, very hard to achieve.You are the best. I am so grateful that our paths have crossed.”

Janet Noke at Leisure Learning, says: Speaker Colleen Kelly Mellor demonstrates ‘professionalism, quality, timeliness.’  She’s ‘very entertaining and enlightening.’ “

“I knew who you were (from my columns in the Journal) but I never realized how funny you are, in person. I loved your talk!” another said.

‘Inspiring’….’Moving”.were other observations.

As a freelance journalist, I write Op-Ed articles (mostly on educational issues) that appear regularly in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Providence Journal. But my work’s also appeared in Wall St. Journal, Asheville, North Carolina’s  Mountain Xpress, Scripps-Howard, World News, etc.

Now I guest-speak before audiences, encouraging them to take their life experiences and ‘go higher’ on a plane of self-discovery. My talks are spirited, humor-laced, and by all accounts, ‘rollicking good fun.’

My Grandpa and the Truck children’s books have been heralded by the top international truckers’ association (OOIDA) and Women in Trucking WIT). Teachers, librarians, parents and children love them, too. The trucker/hero and I have gone before audiences of 200 children to present our lively show. My childrens’ book website is www.grandpaandthetruck.com.

Along with guest-speaking and freelance writing, I complete “The Asheville Experiment,” about my husband’s and my move to Asheville, NC , an artist enclave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a town consistently on lists of “Most Popular Retirement Towns in America.”

Our story will be a cautionary tale for all those considering leaving their native state and a “must-get” for any who consider purchase/sale of a home—anywhere.

Prior to being a freelance writer, I was a 30-year secondary teacher of English and Journalism and a highly successful realtor. I’m a 15-year breast cancer survivor whose experience with that dread disease became the Cover Story in Providence Journal “Lifestyles” Sunday magazine in 2002. Widowed twice by the time I was 45, I raised two daughters as single parent.

All this makes me the perfect vehicle for engendering hope in audiences to meet and harness the crises of their lives, as growth opportunities.

Now, in workshops and guest-talks, I address how to make the senior years the most productive of one’s life, for I am true embodiment of my beliefs.

I welcome your contact, regarding how I might give my hopeful message to your group.

Colleen Kelly Mellor

My other website where I offer my children’s books: www.grandpaandthetruck.com

ckmellor@cox.net

***Please subscribe in top right hand of this site, to get future posts and alerts as to when “The Asheville Experiment” is ready (a humor-laced book for home purchase/sale anywhere, and especially for those going out-of-state.)  Children’s books are ready now. Guest-speaking dates open. Let’s have fun!

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The Monster Beneath: What You’ll Learn in “The Asheville Experiment”

contamination at CTS--visual graphHow many of you (honestly, now) know what a Superfund site is? And how many of you know that Rhode Island has 12 designated sites (the “Dirty Dozen.”) But 200 more are named as “toxic sites.”

Yep, that’s the big, scary elephant in the room, in all real estate transactions…..The one that most would-be buyers of property do not even know about. Buyers confront even more risk if they buy out-of-state or in regions of even their own state which which they’re unfamiliar.

Picture above shows a a toxic underground plume heading towards residential area, right out of Asheville. The EPA has done testing that shows high levels of TCE, a substance known to cause cancer. People in the area most at risk? Those whose water is from wells. But the air shows sign of vapor toxicity, too.

The nearby,gated community of $700,000 homes suffer from what’s now general knowledge. Why? They’re right next door to that Superfund site.

Will it affect their ability to sell? You betcha, for people like me do know about Superfund sites. And I am most concerned with the health of my family, friends, and myself, as well as my investment.

In my book, “The Asheville Experiment,” I show how Paul and I could have been hapless victims like those who lost life savings, because they didn’t realize. It happens all the time–across the nation.

So, get ready. I’ll give you lots of useful tips from my years as highly-successful realtor. My book, “The Asheville Experiment,” will be the best bang for your buck–I guarantee it.

Sign on to get advance notice for a copy and get one for friends/relatives who will move. You couldn’t give them a better book to protect them in what is arguably their biggest investment–their home.

And pls., consider coming to my TedTalk at Salve Regina University, on March 25th. I post the link to facilitate you in getting tickets.

http://tedxsalveregina.salvereginauniversity.com/

 

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I Embark on a Letter-Writing Campaign

My grandsons (3 of them) are as far away (in Seattle) as they can be from Grandpa and me, so what do I do? I write letters to them, including photos. I kind of know what will interest them…and always include humor. I will be speaking about this and a whole lot more in my upcoming TedTalk at Salve Regina University, on March 25th…

Here’s my most recent letter…..Just remember, I am writing as if I am talking to little kids (cuz I am)…

Some Day in March…. 2017

“Little Miss Sunbeam”

When I was a girl, a new kind of white bread came on the market named Sunbeam Bread (kind of a stupid name) but everybody loved it because it had no holes…In other words, its texture was all smooth. The commercial on TV was of a little girl with her blonde hair pulled up in a ponytail. Well, your Mom looked like her, so lots of my friends called your Mom “Little Miss Sunbeam.”

I took your Mom everywhere with me for at the time I was raising her by myself. In the morning, we had to go off together at 6:30 (I taught junior high school, so we had to leave VERY early) and I brought her to her babysitter’s—Maryanne’s house, in a nearby town. She was only one year old.

One day it was so pitch black that I didn’t see the car parked in the road across the street (it was usually never there) and I ended up backing into it–slightly. Not enough to do any damage but it was a real wake-up call.

Other times the gasket (that’s a rubber sealant) around the front window leaked in rainstorms and the water puddled up on the floor, and it FROZE. Now, we were really in a jam, because I had to pull up the accelerator, to get it unstuck from the floor, before I could drive.

I took your Mom to Maryanne’s house every morning for four years.  Maryanne had five of her own children and they were all well-behaved. I liked Maryanne very much and I wish I had a picture of her today. I wonder, too, if your Mom remembers her.

Now, back to the car. It was my Chevy Malibu and it was a greenish/blue color—my very first car which by this point was showing signs of wear. It had 200,000 miles on it and in that day, that was a lot of mileage. It used to break down 3 times a week…every week. That’s when your Mom and I would be stuck along some road, waiting for help from someone to pick us up, get the car to the local fix-it gas station…whatever. It was a constant problem with that car but I couldn’t afford a new one.

Finally, after a year of this torture, I got enough money for a down payment to buy a little yellow Datsun—the cheapest car on America’s highways.

Now, what happened with us in that car? Two years after I had it, I was out (with Kerry) to meet a friend at a Chinese restaurant. We heard this awful racket on the tin roof of the restaurant and I wondered what it was but not enough to get up and see. We stayed for an hour or so and when we left, your Mom (she was 5 now) went bounding out the front door, only to skid on her butt for several feet. Apparently the noise was hail and the ground was coated with ice. That meant the roads were, too, which was dangerous cuz we had to go a half hour to get home.

So, I started up the car and slipped/slid out of the parking lot. I was terrified. Slowly, I inched along and the car wipers went jeht (I’m trying to make the sound of the wipers)…jeht…jeht…jeht…back and forth and then suddenly ….JEHT to the left and that wiper never came back. Bigger problem still? It was on my driver side! So now I had icy roads and no visibility on the driver side.

Because the car was so little, I could reach my hand out and try to use my hand as a wiper as I drove. Well, you know what my hand had to look like by the time we finally got to our apartment  15 minutes later…a frozen paw of a hand, curved from using it as a wiper. It took me a while putting it under warm water to thaw it out.

Yep, we had some pretty rough times in those days, but everyone considered  Little Miss Sunbeam the group mascot for I was the only one of my friends who had a small child and she went everywhere with me (well, almost everywhere). The women baked cookies for her, a man I knew at school who had a candy shop as a second business used to bring candy treats for her. And many people helped us out when we were in trouble—which was often.

Here’s the real Little Miss Sunbeam and here’s a photo of your Mom and me one Mother’s Day when I was young and skinny and she was little–about the same age as when she skidded off the restaurant steps onto her butt.

little miss sunbeam with bread   kerry and Mom mother's Day when she was little

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Full Blown War

From “The Asheville Experiment” asheville skyline

I’d put up this neurosurgeon’s arrogance for weeks, and I was simply having no more of it. Friends told me “Oh, just let him go…They’re all like that” (neurosurgeons, that is). In other words, it was sort of expected that with their level of skill, we in the public were supposed to tolerate such behavior, as if it were a necessary corollary.

But I’d had it. He’d insulted me (suggesting I might need valium when I reacted to Paul’s crazy behavior after his heart and lungs shut down,) and he tried to discharge Paul– as if nothing were wrong with him. That’s when I lowered the boom.

I told him:  “This man is NOTHING like the man I came in with!” And he’s not leaving until he’s had a psych-neuro evaluation and an EEG.”

You see, I knew the dread result of someone merely taking home a seriously-compromised patient from the hospital. I watched our neighbor deal with her wheelchair-bound, almost comatose husband for years. She did the exhaustive work, almost alone, for years–all because she took him home.

But our medical crisis story and how I handled it, successfully, is just one of the items I share so any consumer can use.

That…and much more (laugh-out-loud funny episodes, useful information if you’re a buyer or seller of any home, life in a new region of the country)…is coming in  “The Asheville Experiment” (soon to be published.)

 

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I’ll Be Doing a Ted Talk

I’m a little nervous. Why? I just landed a plum opportunity on the guest-speaking circuit–I’m invited to give a Ted Talk before a Salve Regina audience. The date? March 25th…2017.salve-regina-university

The subject of my Ted Talk? (because some of you have asked:) Each of us is a compendium (at 60+) of all the experiences, trials, situations we’ve met and mastered. Why not take that life knowledge and share it with others, motivating them to ‘go higher,’ either in writing or in guest-speaking and motivating especially-older audiences.

How you reinterpret the crises/hurdles can become the bricks in building your new career. Utilize them as such.

We live in an age-ist society. I challenge that notion that we seniors are ‘done.’ I’m living proof of the opposite, and I am intent on going higher to the next plateau of my life, undeterred by age.

And yes, I’ll give details of where…when…in weeks ahead. Ted Talk is at beautiful Salve Regina on March 25th.

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I’m Clearly Intrigued with Neighbors….(this is why)

37-glen-aveThey lived across the street in a modest home to which they added an entire third floor. “A playroom,” the wife added, “some place where the kids could enjoy a train set.” I thought it very extravagant.

But that’s the way they were in recent years. As cross-the-street neighbors, we had a window on their newly-opulent world. There was the time he bought all those stretch limos and parked them all over, until we, the neighbors, complained. One couldn’t run a business out of his home:  our neighborhood was zoned “residential.”

She showed me her beautiful 3-carat turquoise ring one day, as they readied to take the kids on their third visit to Disneyworld.

There was the beach house, a huge, weather-shingled, sprawling Victorian poised atop a high point of beach in East Matunuck, Rhode Island. They bought that, too. A house clearly worth a fortune.

And they were building their dream home, in a tony neighborhood of nearby upscale East Greenwich. A stone tower was its signature architectural trait.

All this on his postal worker’s salary and her 10-hour a week job as psychiatric nurse to a prominent psychiatrist.

She had the audacity one day to say this to me:  “You can do all this, too, if you go back to school and become a psychiatric nurse (I was a mere teacher.) The pay is good.”

Yes… well… so is the pay for embezzlement.

That’s what we’d all discover. Their penchant for the good life clouded someone’s judgment, for he’d been writing big checks to himself, at the Post Office, where he was in charge of accounting.

Despite the fact he’d been doing this for years, his crime was discovered far later than the initial thefts, meaning he’d only be held responsible for $1.9 million, instead of the $3.5 million and more they suspected. The rest was irretrievable because of the statute of limitations.

He’d go to prison for 3-4 years.

The towered house? It’s another’s property now.

The couple were divorced shortly into its building and she got it in the divorce settlement instituted somewhere in its construction.

But during the divorce hearing, the psychiatric nurse listed on her “needed assets” some extravagant figure for clothing allotment…an amount inappropriate to her financial situation in life….something like $7,000 a month. And she claimed a need for $4000 a month for child support.

Both figures were unsustainable on his income of $49,000 and her $8500 part-time work.

The judge questioned it.

And the house of cards began to unravel.

(Photo above is of the Catallozzi home, 63 Glen Ave., in Cranston. We were #40, right across the street.) And here’s a link about this true story from the New York Times. The Catallozzi crime figures in the annals as the biggest embezzlement ever, of the United States Postal Service.

From “In the Shadow of Princes,” a story of my life, by Colleen Kelly Mellor….

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The Year I Broke with Tradition

coral-reefIt was soon-to-be Christmas and all I knew was:  I couldn’t be home for the holidays. Why? Too much bad had happened. We were coming off two years of horror with my husband’s terminal disease.  He died on January 1st, of that year; we all limped along, in recovery, for 12 months; and now, the holidays were fast upon us.

Now, don’t ever think “terminal” just refers to the patient. When that verdict comes down, the whole family suffers. You never get away from it. Each moment is tinged with “Will this be the last time for this?” At other times, you just want the “awful” to end.

It’s soul-crushing.

So, because I didn’t want to be around the wassail bowl answering Uncle Mattie’s ever-exasperating questions (“What will you do with the house?” hardly hiding his sexist expectation that no woman could maintain all of this alone,) I determined to take my girls and me to Cozumel.

Yep, Mexico would have us.  With that, I booked a flight; minimally-packed; got us in a limo to Boston and flew out.

When I say ‘minimally-packed,’ I mean it. I was so bent on my mission that I allowed my 8 year old to pack her own suitcase (crazy?) meaning she took what she thought important:  When I opened her suitcase in Cozumel, her giant history textbook  popped out—a book half her size. She neglected to bring seasonally-adjusted clothes, like shorts and tops.  After all, we were in winter zone at home and she thought everyone was. As I said, she was only 8.

How’d our trip turn out? It was one of the most memorable and beautiful ever. We snorkeled—the three of us—off the rocky coast of the island, mesmerized by the gorgeous coral, mango yellow, and neon green fish, darting about.

We bought a Mexican crèche on that trip and hand-carried it home (that’s it in the photo in a previous post.) We spent New Year’s Eve with a bunch of rowdy revelers, blowing horns wildly, and dancing about.

That trip was the year we broke with tradition…the day we three went on our own. It would be the precursor of longer trips to come as we became world travelers.

On that trip, I realized that breaking with tradition can be a far better route– one necessary in the growth process.

Maybe some of you reading this need to break with tradition for your own sake.

Wherever you are in the process, I wish you peace and a good year in 2017.

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Authors and Payback

To borrow a well-known phrase from best-selling author, Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird: ‘If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.’ —

My own version:  “You never want to piss off a writer, for you never know when pay-back will come.”

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“These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…”

creche-mexican-turquoise

(A nativity scene my girls and I got in Cozumel, Mexico, years ago. We hand-carried it home. It’s now a colorful and cherished part of our tradition.)

In the glass display case running along the corridor at Rhode Island Hospital, are gift boxes of Mr. Potato Head, a Rhode Island-designed toy, made right here at Hasbro Toys, in Pawtucket. Those boxed gifts transport me to the era when I spent hours, as a child, redesigning the head of a potato with the stick-’em-in parts.

I loved Mr. Potato Head. As a child, I inserted his changeable parts of eyebrows, nose, mustache, lips, teeth, ears, into a raw potato, creating a multitude of different characters.

I liked him so much, I bought a Mr. Potato Head (now they supply a brown plastic head instead of child using a potato) recently as Christmas gift for my grandchildren, knowing full well it won’t “do the trick” in the excitement category. Why? Mr. Potato Head doesn’t perform in any grandiose fashion. He doesn’t sing, talk, or transform into a menacing moveable character.

But I hope they love him, anyway.

If Mr. Potato Head brings back warm, fuzzy feelings, it’s because he represents a throwback to a simpler time. In short, he reminds me of my childhood. But he’s just one of the memories I have of Christmas in my youth.

For instance, I remember shopping for family gifts. On the Saturday before Christmas, Dad gave each of us kids $25.00 for our Christmas shopping. He’d drop us off on Main Street in the merchant district of Arctic where we’d do our gift-buying in a few hours. I spent most of my time stressing over Mom’s gift, only to end up getting her another milk glass candy dish (to add to her collection) or the small, cobalt-colored glass bottle of Evening in Paris cologne. I bought my brothers and Dad socks (let’s face it–I didn’t have much left after Mom’s); bought a stuffed animal for my sister (4 years my junior) and candy for Nana. When I got home, I tucked my treasures into the far corner of the dormer of my bedroom.

Anticipation for the big day built over weeks. At church, I eagerly awaited the birth of baby Jesus who’d finally lay in the cradle of straw in the manger, following midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I loved the candles that bathed the manger scene in amber light, made more festive, still, with votives twinkling nearby. When the choir sang, I joined them in thrilling tribute to the “Newborn King.”

But, few gifts left serious imprint in my memory. When I was 8, I got the crystal rosary beads I asked for in my “I want to be a nun” phase. They were housed in a grey-blue taffeta-covered box almost as interesting (to a child) as the beads, themselves. I’d hold the strand up to the light to watch the reflection of the crystal’s prisms dance on the wall. But I wouldn’t have them  long…

That Christmas night, when Mom and Dad  took us kids downtown to see Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” I brought them along, because I couldn’t bear to leave them  behind. But, at some point during “The hills are alive with the sound of music,” I lost them and that loss broke my heart.

One year Santa brought me the white transistor radio I’d asked for. The little Emerson was housed in a tan leather jacket, with a perforated patch where the sound came out. But oddly enough, as a child, I wasn’t as impressed with its capacity to deliver music as I was in awe of its gold-tone buttons and leather casing that buttoned on its side. When I see older transistor radios in antique shops, today, they bring me back to that time and I relish the memory.

I got a bird in a cage, when I was 10. Apparently, the hours after my going to bed were close to murderous as my father (never good at fixing things) nearly strangled the parakeet in the door apparatus, when he sought to connect its feeder. They kept the frenzied critter quiet after his near-death experience by putting its coverlet over the cage.

I hadn’t asked for it but got it, probably because my grandmother had birds (as pets), and Mom doubtless wanted to pass along that family tradition, in the same way I want to share Mr. Potato Head with my grandsons.

That same year I became “Official Wrapper of Family Gifts,” and Christmas lost its mystique. A few days before the big day, Mom sequestered me in an upstairs bedroom, closed the door, and shouted encouragement to me whenever I showed signs of flagging energy. From that point on, I knew what everyone was getting ahead of time. She even had me wrap my own gifts (not the bird), with her caveat “You mustn’t look in the boxes,” ringing in my ears.

So, there you have it: a Mexican creche, a pint-sized radio, rosary beads, Midnight Mass, Mr. Potato Head, a paranoid parakeet, gift-buying and gift-wrapping for the family…–an eclectic batch of memories of “the most wondrous time of the year.” But I find it noteworthy that in that cluster, there’s nothing spectacular of a material order (the spiritual’s another matter).

That tells me: Like Mr. Potato Head, the things that impressed me most, as gifts, were really quite simple.…Even more telling: Those memories grow more meaningful with the years.

I wish you all “Merry Christmas” and wonder: “What’s your positive memory?”

mrpotatohead.htm      mr-potato-head

(Click on above link to read some fascinating data about Mr. Potato Head, one of Rhode Island’s more famous exports. Did you know, for instance, he was the first toy to be advertised on TV?)

 

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Christmas in Our Cape

 

like-210-pulaskiOur home glowed orange during the Christmas season, since that was the color of the candles Mom positioned in the windows throughout our two-floor Cape. I felt it a fine color—the glow seemed heavenly.  Some lights were tiers of three candles, while others were singular, but they all bathed our home in a warm amber light.

Nowhere was that light more pronounced than in the dormer of our girls’ bedroom, for here I’d transformed the cloistered space into a sacristy (picture above is similar, if you take away garage and side entryway.)

On a table nearby, our kids’ red and white record player piped in soft Christmas music.

On the walls of the dormer I’d taped Christmas cards depicting the birth of Christ or the Three Wise Men following the star of Bethlehem, to the manger in Jerusalem. All the illustrated people wore the necessary faces of piety and solemnity. Since it was still the era when most people sent cards (requiring twice-a-day-delivery by the Post Office,) I had plenty to choose from.

I’d transformed Mom’s cedar chest into an altar, covering it with a white sheet, and on that, I placed my tabernacle which had been a neighbor’s cigar box from which I’d removed a panel,  glued white construction paper to each of 3 sides, and ran a knitting needle across the expanse of one for a curtain rod. From that, I hung a cloth I’d gotten from a package of Dad’s new white handkerchiefs.  It had to be perfect, for behind that curtain stood the chalice.

That goblet was one of Mom’s best crystal glasses topped off with a cardboard square (again, covered in white paper), and it held the small, perfect circles of Sunbeam bread I’d cut, using a half dollar coin as pattern. They awaited the singular moment I’d transform them into the body of Christ—the Host.

To prepare, I draped sheets about my body, to mimic the garb the priests of my church wore. I’d already anointed my younger sister as altar ‘boy.’ At 4 years my junior, she was only too happy for her role in the drama.

Then I invoked the heavenly spirits– God, Jesus, angels and archangels and I began the chant that was hardly Gregorian.  It was a child’s rendition of the holy words, rising in crescendo, at times, just as I believed I’d heard them at church.

At the high point of my delivery, I held the ‘host’ on high, genuflected, as my sister rang the dinner bell I’d conscripted for our use. Next, I turned, deposited the “host” in her mouth, and did the same for me. We bowed our heads appropriately.

My sister and I performed this nightly ritual all through the pre-holiday season, leading up to Christmas day when I was 8 years of age and she was 4.

We merely mimicked the ceremonial actions we saw the priests and my brothers (as altar boys) perform.  In later years, I’d see the Catholic church bend its rules and allow girls to serve in that capacity.  But in our era, that service wasn’t possible.

So, my sister and I created our own church, as only children can.

In retrospect, I might have seriously entertained the idea of becoming a priest if that occupation were open to me. Instead, I became a teacher– “doing God’s work,” as some friends describe it.

But in that dormer, I sought… as a child… to leap the constraints my church and era imposed.

It would signal the beginning of a lifelong struggle.

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I wish you every blessing in this New Year.

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