DECEMBER 28, 1954
HYDE PARK—And now Christmas Day is over! Of course, the Christmas season goes on until Twelfth-night, but, since we will be leaving here on January 2, I am afraid we will have to dismantle our trees a little before the traditional date.
At this time of year I enjoy most the candles in the windows and the lighted trees both outside and inside the house. They seem to radiate the Christmas spirit beyond one's own personal family and extend it to the world.
As is our custom we went to the service Christmas evening and had a beautiful choral communion service. We now hold this service in the church whereas in the old days the church was closed and only the chapel could be used in the winter. Also, it was a major item of expense to keep the big church open when most of the people preferred being in the chapel which was in the village where they could walk to church, if necessary. Now people drive in from quite a distance, and since there is money enough to heat the church it is certainly a great pleasure to have it open in the winter for services. Nevertheless, the chapel is still used for special services during the week.
Our Christmas Day, with so many children and grandchildren here as well as a great niece and nephew and many friends, young and old, was a very delightful day. The children opened their stockings together in my living room and later we had 20 at Christmas dinner.
My little figures for the creche, which I always put under my own little tree seem to grow more numerous year by year. The youngest child here, John's little girl, Joan, was a little bewildered but she soon found out how to pull things out of a stocking. Later on, I am sure, the different toys will mean more as she examines them separately.
We had fixed up the playroom with a bigger tree, so after dinner all the presents were put in there together to be opened there, which turned out to be a very good arrangement. It left us a living room more or less uncluttered to which we returned for the evening.
After a very simple supper the children went to bed and the few grownups were very glad to sit down and talk quietly. It is a pleasant kind of weariness that comes after Christmas preparations, but it is the end of a joyous day and there was nothing to mar our Christmas pleasure.
I was happy to get a letter a few days ago telling me that a little Russian church, for which the small White Russian colony in Poughkeepsie has been raising money, has actually progressed far toward being a real place of worship. One of their members, George Jishjin, is an elevator operator and also a fine painter, artist and poet, and he has painted the icons, which are the images of the saints. These figures adorn the front of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Mr. Jishjin works at Vassar College by day and has created these decorations by working nights.
Services have been held at the church for the past six weeks, so I imagine the Christmas service was a special joy to all of them. The main dedication of the building will not take place until the spring, but even now there are to be Sunday School classes as well as classes in citizenship and English for adults and living quarters for Father Nikoleff as well.
This is quite an accomplishment for a congregation of 70 persons, but their group is constantly growing, for this is the only Russian Orthodox Church between Yonkers and Albany.