Clinton Township Newsletter

December 2018 Issue of The Clinton Township Newsletter

Clinton Township Newsletter, Clinton New Jersey, May 2013 Issue

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3 D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 8 The Christmases of my childhood had a set routine. After a restless night of trying to figure out what "sugarplums" actually are, and trying to make them "dance in my head," I, the youngest of four children, would wake well before the crack of dawn to stare at the fully lit Christmas tree. (Christmas Eve was the only night the tree was left illuminated all night long, for Santa, I suppose). I knew the rules. The only gifts left by Santa that I could open without my family watching were the one or two in my red, corduroy stocking, handmade lovingly by Mom – with a green felt lower-case "j" on the front. (The upper-case "J" had already been claimed by my older brother John). All other wrapped gifts could be admired, turned over in my hands and shaken, but not opened. Then I had to wait for what seemed like several days – probably two to three hours or so – before I was allowed to try to wake my sleeping teenage siblings to the joy that is Christmas morning. "Try", of course, being the operative word. To make matters worse, the rule in our house was that breakfast had to be eaten by the whole family before presents could be unwrapped and, probably most importantly (to me at least) candy – normally forbidden – could be eaten. (The fact that my older brother John could keep his in his room for months without eating it or sharing it, drove my little-kid brain mad.) All of this waiting (which I'm now a pro at, by the way) eventually led to a very quick, enthusiastic flurry of opening presents. And then came the next item on the Christmas Day agenda, one that was mine alone. I would head to my next-door neighbors' house where, having waited all morning to open their gifts, were my "adoptive" grandparents, the Breens. "It just isn't the same, opening gifts without a child around, so we wait for you to join us, sweetie!" This elderly couple enveloped me with their generous, unconditional love. My "real" grandparents did the same when they could, but they lived in a far away place called "Alabama." With a very long car trip between us and them, when embarked upon, I always arrived at their house feeling slightly cooked, having ridden in the way-back of our very long Oldsmobile station wagon that our air-conditioning couldn't quite muster the energy to reach. Every time I visited their house, Mrs. Breen offered me a piece or two of candy so, naturally, I visited often. In the summers, she and Mr. Breen would spoil me with loads of their exquisite roses swaddled in newspaper, like royalty wearing rags. Roses, like children, burn easily in the Florida sun without proper ministration, so the Breens lovingly bestowed this on both their beloved rose bushes and myself. Mrs. Breen told me tales about her childhood in "Miami" – and explained that it was a place that was even hotter, even sunnier, with even more palm trees than we had in Jacksonville. When my biological grandparents visited, they would make it a point to drop in on the Breens with me – a wonderful case of two worlds colliding. And, when we would drive all the way to Alabama, and later Pensacola, to visit my grandparents, their neighborhood "adopted" grandchildren would come over to play with us. The concept, "if you can't be with the ones you love, love the ones you're with", rang true with me when it came to biological grandparents and also "adopted" grandparents. The gifts that the Breens exchanged remained the same every year. For her, Joy perfume, a box of chocolates, perhaps a pretty scarf... for him, leather slippers, perhaps a tie... why they enjoyed these gifts was beyond me. They always had a small gift for me too, and I can't recall a one, but I'll never forget the biggest gift the Breens gave me – their unconditional love and devoted attention. May you, your biological families – and also your "adoptive" families – have a Very Blessed Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and a Fantastic 2019! – Julie Fl�nn Carol Beder's SHADES | MOTORIZED SHADES | BLINDS | DRAPES | PLANTATION SHUTTERS You Deserve Them! 908.236.2688 14 Lebanon Plaza n

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