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Joan May, President Elect of Chatham-Madison Kiwanis Organized the Annual Christmas Program Held December 21

Kiwanis President-Elect Joan May was introduced by President Dick Plambeck. Joan introduced Kiwanis volunteer speakers who had prepared special Christmas remembrances and games. She was very happy to see the huge attendance by members and spouses. At the start of the meeting, Bob Stannard led everyone in singing Christmas carols.

Ron Whalin, Nancy Boucher, Joan May, Karen Swartz and Dick Plambeck

Christmas 1776

Karen, an advocate of New Jersey revolutionary war history, asked everyone to think back to the Christmas of 1776. George Washington crossed the Delaware to win the battle of Trenton. Shortly afterward, soldier enlistments were running out and Washington’s small army was about to return to their homes. Washington needed to convey to his troops the urgency of the situation and he asked them to stay. Karen read Washington’s inspiring words. The army responded with loyalty, staying on through the cold winter. (Click here to read the words from Winter Soldiers by Richard Ketchum.) She spoke these words to let all know that we can draw inspiration from our great leaders of the past and that we can all do our part.

Christmas Song Game

Ex-teacher Nancy Boucher distributed to everyone a game sheet (a kind of quiz). The page had a list of hints for Christmas Songs. Nancy read the hints one-by-one and people shouted out the answers. Everyone had a grand time playing this game. (Click here to see a copy of the game with the answers.)

A Christmas Poem

Karen Swartz spoke again and read a poem that Jim Baker had asked her to read. “I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book, and every year at Christmas Time I go and take a look ….” (Click here to read the entire poem). Karen said that Jim Baker wanted her to offer the poem, as a Christmas greeting, to each and every one of you.


Ron Whalin described TubaChristmas events held around the USA. The first one was held December 22, 1974 on the ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Center in NYC. Over 500 tuba players (who usually “get no respect”) gather every year on the ice to play a full program of Christmas carols. The movement has grown to over 240 events held around the USA every year. (Click here to visit the TubaChristmas website.)

Ron and his wife Bert drive a couple of hours to Reading, PA every year to enjoy the TubaChristmas held at Gring’s Mill. It is held in the second story of an old stone barn where about 50 tuba, euphonium, and baritone musicians play carols and tell jokes. The fireplace and crowded room make for a cozy, pleasant experience for families. Many Holiday Lights are also displayed outside in the park. Ron showed several short video clips from the December 10 concert. (Click here to see a YouTube video of TubaChristmas in Reading.)

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Joan May was the last story-teller, speaking about the joy of Christmas cookies. She remembered her mother baking Christmas cookies and every day when Joan came home from school, the cookies smelled better and better. Joan said, “The cookies that stood out in my mind and that I loved the best were the sugar cookies that were shaped as Christmas trees, Santa, wreaths, even cartoon characters, etc. We iced them with different colors and then Mom hung them on the tree.”

Joan’s Mom enlisted her at the age of six to help ice the cookies, so her cookie-making talents developed at an early age. From that time on, cookies were an important part of Joan’s Christmas’. There were some years without cookies after her Mom stopped baking. (Joan’s sister and brother were not into cooking).

Joan wanted this tradition to be known by her grandchildren. For the last 14 years she made and hung the cookies on the tree. About halfway through this period she wondered whether anyone else really cared about the cookies.

Then, about five years ago at the funeral of an uncle, Joan’s cousin came up to her and told her that a favorite memory was “being able to pick a cookie from the tree and taking it home.”

With that encouragement, she was renewed and continued baking cookies. As she baked and decorated 10 dozen this year (18 hours of icing), she wondered if she was “getting too old for this.” Then Joan’s young grandson visited her and he looked at the brightly lit tree. Staring at the tree he said, “Grandma, didn’t you make cookies this year?” Joan said she is now encouraged for at least another five years. The good thing is that she is giving her granddaughters cookie cutters for Christmas.

Next, Joan announced that she had brought along a dozen cookies in a box to present to some lucky person in the audience. At the beginning of the Kiwanis Christmas meeting, as members and guests arrived, they were given a tree-shaped memento decorated with a single Christmas ornament. The person who held the tree with the “star ornament” would win the box of delicious sugar cookies. AD Dudderar was that lucky winner.

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