Christmas carols make me very nostalgic, and those sung by Tom Graham at the Brilliant Lions Club holiday dinner were ones that always touch my heart, such as "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "O Holy Night" and "White Christmas." Then there is the Ho! Ho! Ho! kind such as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that makes you laugh. He had the 60 in attendance singing along to many of his songs.
Lamont and I were invited guests at the dinner, and I am always pleased to be able to do something for the Lions as they do so much for the community. Cheryl Roe made up a list of activities performed by the group in 2013, and it covers two pages. I'd like to tell you about some of these 48 projects:
They helped pack 39 food baskets for the needy; donated cleaning equipment and gloves to the New York flood workers; co-sponsored three blood drives with the Brilliant Fire Department; gained a new member in Don Hutchison; bought a memorial brick for Rudy Rusnak; had six members attend a Lions zone meeting; built a storage closet for the community/senior center; purchased two Lions Club magnets to attach to vehicles for parades; donated to Buckeye Boys State and the BYCM; and cleaned the northern ramp on Route 7 to gather 10 bags of litter once and eight bags another time.
WITH GUESTS — Dave Porter, Brilliant Lions Club member, stands behind three guests at the Christmas dinner, including, from left, seated, Dania Porter. Elizabeth Starr and Cheryl Roe, who does typing projects for the club.
-- Esther McCoy
AT EVENT — Jack Campbell, seated right, Brilliant Lions Club chaplain, and his guest, Evelyn Farmer, get ready for a holiday dinner from Country Cottage in Brilliant. With them is Glen Dennis.
-- Esther McCoy
FAMILY PHOTO — Martha Bradley, seated, was with her daughter and son-in-law, Margaret and Ralph Nickoson.
-- Esther McCoy
ALL SMILES — Among those on hand at Brilliant Lions Club Christmas event held at the Brilliant Christian Church were, from left, Randall Craven, Charlie Bane and Tom Connell. If Bane looks familiar, it is because he was Santa in the Herald-Star group picture in last week’s column. He looked like someone who could play the jolly gentleman well and I asked if he would do it for our news room party.
-- Esther McCoy
SPARKLY — Susan Nolan, seated left, and Chris Goosman, seated right, wore sparkly sweaters to celebrate the Christmas season. With them were Jerry Nolan, standing left, and John Goosman.
-- Esther McCoy
The Lions purchased 60 trees for the fourth- grade Foresters; bought a new meat slicer for a fundraising ham dinner that generated $990.50; donated to the Brilliant Little League; bought flowers for planter pots, turned in 143 pairs of eye glasses; donated $240 to the parade of checks; and built a new handicap ramp for a local family.
Scholarships were given to Holly Tester and Andy Westfall of Buckeye Local High School, the club held a spring broom and knife sale; donated to the Sandy Hook Lions Club; donated to Yvonne Fair; installed two new Brilliant signs and a Wells Township Park sign; cut grass and removed weeds at the McGee Family Cemetery; sponsored a September zone meeting with 34 in attendance, 23 of whom were from the Brilliant club; built a hand rail for someone who needed the walking support; built a big closet for the Lions Club room; purchased a plaque for Rich Jeffers; built a ramp for Judy Brown; held a fall broom and light bulb sale; and, bought two signs for outside the Lions Club meeting room.
Members installed new library signs, donated in memory of Henry Sindlinger; donated to the Presbyterian Church for utilities used when holding dinners; held a spaghetti dinner and a broom and light bulb sale with the dinner and earned $56; participated in the Wells Township Christmas parade with a truck float; donated $200 for the food drive; purchased an Angel Tree gift; and bought 10 coats and gloves for the Coats for Kids program.
And they did all of this with a roster of 43 members.
Randall Craven was quite helpful to Tom Graham as he was entertaining at the dinner. When Tom's throat got a little scratchy, Randall brought him a glass of cool water.
Mark Tinstman, Brilliant Christian Church pastor, gave the invocation for the dinner and the benediction.
Some very wonderful door prizes were awarded to lucky ticket holders. Glen Dennis, who was seated next to me, received a four-slice toaster, and Lamont and I were both lucky enough to get Christmas decorations that I will keep as a memory of the club members who have been so nice to me.
I saw three men standing in a huddle talking and interrupted to ask if I could take a shot of them together. I noticed instantly that a gentleman had his own silky, white beard and asked if he played Santa Claus.
He replied that indeed he did and had a striking velvet suit to wear in his Claus transformation. I asked if he would come to the Herald-Star for our annual newsroom luncheon and gift exchange, and he and his wife, Carrol, agreed to come as Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
They probably caused more of an uproar than if President Obama walked through the door. As he came into the building, he was met by employees from all departments, with camera phones in hand wanting their picture taken with the couple.
I took him throughout the building for all departments to get a chance to meet and greet him.
I had a big laugh in the mail room when one of the employees got down on his knees and said, "Honest Santa, I have been good this year." Dave Kinney, manager, stopped the line of inserts going by to say a quick hello, too.
Santa Bane said he didn't keep a naughty or nice list, but his wife, Carrol, did and was looking everyone over with a knowing eye.
Ralph Nickoson was trying to drum up a president's candidate for the club's slate of officers. He has served for four years and would like to take a back seat for a time. A slate of officers is needed by July 1, so he will be trying hard to fill that position.
Back to the Lions dinner, I got a little bit off track mentioning Santa. Glen Dennis told me that he and Lamont worked at Timet Corp. together for a time. Everywhere we go, I am introduced to someone who has worked with my husband. It is nice to see that they still recognize each other.
I came home from the dinner with one of the best presents I could receive, six of Kent Murray's Country Kitchen homemade dinner rolls. I don't know of anything I like better than fluffy homemade bread. And it was nice to enjoy a piece of peanut butter pie at the dinner, my favorite kind of dessert.
Dania Porter told me she was the daughter of Janet Petrella, a Woman's Club of Mingo member I have known for some time. I then saw Janet five days later at the Mingo Christmas event, and we talked about my meeting with her daughter. I like to meet people through someone I know very well.
I received thoughtful gifts from my family and husband that I treasure dearly, but a gift that touched my heart when we visited Larry's grave at Holly Memorial Garden was a plaque telling that those who leave us are our treasured memories. Attached to the pine and red ribbon plaque was a fishing lure, one of Larry's greatest pastimes. I don't know if it would embarrass the friend who placed it at the grave if I told his name, but I will say that it was a special sight to us and that he has remained a forever friend. You don't find those very often, they have to be acquired.
The new year is here, and I am having a hard time remembering to write 2014 when a date is needed, but I plan to accept whatever happens this year with a joyful and forgiving heart. As a friend told me once when I complained of my fate, "It could be worse, you could have received a poke in the eye."
I'll try to keep my eyes out of harm's way and use them to smile at all who need cheerful notice. May your new year be bright, and if it dims, don't forget to light a candle of kindness.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a features columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)