We believe that the timeless magic of Christmas can touch us at any age. It is often said that Christmas is for children, but we find that we are all children at heart. With that spirit, we came together as a family on Thursday, December 19th to celebrate the “First Noel in Jeanne Jugan’s House”, our 2014 Christmas Gala.
The doors were locked and the windows were covered. Residents, dressed in their best Christmas outfits, waited anxiously in the hall.
Five o’clock was the magic time that the doors would open and the 2014 Christmas Gala would begin.
At the stroke of 5 p.m., the double doors opened to reveal the “First Noel in Jeanne Jugan’s House”. We were transported back to 1839 as two young women (postulates Grace and Jamie) dressed in lace hats, white blouses and long black skirts, guided us through a replica of Jeanne Jugan’s home that was set up on the side of the dining room. Sitting in the corner was Jeanne Jugan (Association Jeanne Jugan member, Ginger Hamilton) and the poor blind woman Jeanne brought into her home named Anne Chauvin (Activity Director Cindy DeLuca).
We were escorted to our beautifully decorated tables by staff and volunteers dressed in costumes depicting 19th century France. In the center of the room, there were twinkling stars hanging from the ceiling. Large wooden letters spelled “NOEL” that were handmade by our former employee and good friend, Jim Forte. There were white-lit trees framing either side and to the right of the letters was a large lantern with a miniature room replica of Jeanne Jugan’s Home. It was complete with furniture, also delicately handmade by Jim Forte. In the center was a miniature Jeanne Jugan holding Anne Chauvin, which was crafted with love by San Francisco employee, Tim Lobacz.
The harmonious sounds of a harpist resonated from wall to wall. The delicious aroma of Filet le Boeuf à la Bourguignon escaped from the kitchen, teasing our taste buds. A magnificent Bûch de Noël was the picture-perfect centerpiece on each table.
The servers, dressed in white and black, brought covered plates to each table. In unison, they lifted the plate covers revealing a mouthwatering feast. The beef was tender and tasted like a little bit of heaven. It was perfectly prepared, thanks to our dear friends, chefs Andy Webber and Tony Stallone. The chefs not only provided a four star culinary experience, but they donated all of the food as well. Our good friends at Stonegate Banquet Centre provided the exquisite yule logs, a perfect finishing touch.
During a break from the harp music, several Little Sisters performed a beautiful rendition of “If These Walls Could Talk”, written by Jeanne Hong an Association Jeanne Jugan member from Indianapolis.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Jeanne Jugan (Sr. Mary Alphonsus) arrived. She was dressed in the old Little Sister habit. Jeanne, fluently speaking her native French, gave each of us a beautiful red ornament with “First Noel in Jeanne Jugan’s House” engraved in white.
It was a beautiful evening filled with good friends, good food, good cheer and a lot of love. As we count our blessings this Christmas, we are reminded of all of our beautiful friends who support us. It is our prayerful wish that God will grant you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful Christmas and New Year overflowing with hope and promise.