The Christmas Countdown Begins

I just finalized plans for a trip to Duquesne in December. I am planning on visiting my hometown from December 3rd through the 7th. I hope that I have an opportunity to visit with my family as well as old friends that I have reconnected with as a result of my blog. I’m not sure where my adventures will take me, but I’m hoping I am able to discover more photographic treasures to add to my archives and share with you. I’m hoping to see our friend Jim Hartman from the Mifflin Township Historical Society during my visit. I also plan on visiting the Daily News building in McKeesport, but I understand that it is difficult to make any headway there. If anyone knows someone there or has advice, please, let me know.

Hopefully, Mrs. Denne at City Hall might be able to point me in the right direction and provide some advice on whom I might be able to speak in Duquesne to research more about our hometown. Hopefully, the nativity at 2nd and Grant will be in place, and I’ll be able to get some photos. Right now, the nativity is leading as the Christmas recollection that is the most memorable for the people of Duquesne followed closely by the Duquesne Christmas street lights. If you haven’t voted yet, just click HERE to tell us what you think!!

Now that we are past Thanksgiving and all the madness the day after brings, I wanted to focus once again on the joys the holiday season brought to Duquesne residents. Contrary to today’s trend, preparing for and celebrating the Christmas season didn’t start until Thanksgiving had been celebrated to its fullest. After that time, people’s mindsets began shifting to preparing for Christmas ever so slowly. However, once we returned to Holy Name School after our Thanksgiving holiday, we were ready to rock and roll. The good sisters would immediately turn our attention to preparing for Advent. Usually starting shortly after our return, each year we had to “refocus” on the true meaning of Christmas and the need to prepare for the celebration on a non-secular basis.

In spite of the reverence we needed to exhibit toward the set-up of our classroom’s Advent Wreath, we couldn’t help but get excited about beginning the “countdown” to Christmas. That countdown combined with being able to have burning candles in our classroom was just cause for becoming really excited!! (I often wondered if part of the excitement was due to some innate pyromaniac tendencies I may have possessed!) Dutifully, each day during Advent we would take turns lighting the appropriate pink or purple candles. We’d all gather around the wreath, recite our prayers as the candles were lit, and then return to our seats to begin the day.

The Advent Wreath in retrospect was our teacher’s way of dangling a fish hook in front of us to assure our good behavior in addition to its religious implications. I thought it would be a good idea to research the symbolism of the Advent Wreath as a refresher for all of us.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

So as we move forward as the dutiful Duquesne Hunkys that we are, I will continue to post “Letters to Santa” from various time periods in Duquesne’s history. I think would be amazing to come across a letter that you had written, or perhaps one that was written by a parent or grandparent. In this post, I have letters written and published in the Duquesne Times 90 years ago in 1921. Also, I have included letters that were written in 1948 as well. Please let us know if you discover a letter that in connected to you in some way. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas my friends…….

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3 Responses to The Christmas Countdown Begins

  1. Robin says:

    Albert A. Goldstrohm
    Birth: Mar. 3, 1914
    Death: Sep. 1, 2003
    Harris County
    Texas, USA
    Family links:
    Melba Doris Richards Goldstrohm (1915 – 2009)
    Birth: Sep. 7, 1915
    Allegheny County
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Death: Mar. 24, 2009
    Harris County
    Texas, USA
    The daughter of Ivor and Phoebe Richards. On September 9, 1940, Melba married Albert A. Goldstrohm in Duquesne and he preceded her in death on September 1, 2003, in Houston, Texas. Melba was a faithful follower of Christ and served Him in many ways including loving and devoting her life to her family, teaching children’s Sunday school, assisting with hospital services, and after moving to Houston in 1988, working as a volunteer at Bear Creek Assistance Ministries. She was a member of Tallowood Baptist Church. Survivors include son, Albert G. Goldstrohm and wife Carole of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, daughter, Carol A. Maresh and husband Mel of Houston, Texas, five grandchildren, Douglas Goldstrohm and wife Kelly, Janet Goldstrohm Burke and husband Martin, Keith Goldstrohm and wife Chantel, Michael Maresh and wife Heather and Kathryn Maresh, and nine great grandchildren, Taylor, Alyssa, and Samantha Goldstrohm, Bailey, Kali and Brendan Burke, Alex, Brent and Kaylin Goldstrohm. Melba is also survived by her brother, Glenn I. Richards, of Houston , Texas , and her sister, Mary Margaret “Peggy” McGrail and husband Marty, of Monterey Park, California.

  2. Debra Faust-Clancy says:

    Santa Baby,
    I was never told to write you a letter as a child, so I’m writing one now, as a Big Adult. For Christmas this year, I would like a book deal for Jim Volk from a publisher with deep pockets and a nice fat advance. Maybe a marketing tour to sell it, in some nice warm places with palm trees? And during the tour, only first class travel please with water views. Also, I would like all my dental bills paid for and possibly a nice shiny new car? in a nice new garage addition to our house? With a dining room, fireplace and rooftop deck attached? I’ve been not only good, but Great! And could you also bring my Facebook friends their heart’s desires? A few trust funds thrown around here and there couldn’t hurt either. Thank you so much. We believe in you, so how’s about you believing in us!
    Your friends,
    All the former little kids from Duquesne

    • Jim says:

      ALRIGHT!!!! Yes there is a Santa Claus!!! Thanks Debra…. I’ll add to the list and let Santa give you a winning ticket for the Powerball Lottery!!! Merry – Merry!!

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