Finding joy at Christmas |

Finding joy at Christmas

by Ron Walker Senior Scene

I was a young, married choreographer, and we were in pre-production for a new show. For the first three weeks in December, eight girl dancers and I plodded our way through rehearsals at the elegant Caf Conc Supper Club in Montreal. I had to be ready for the producer to see my work three days before opening night, so I could be home for Christmas. Although I always managed to make it home, I could never be sure that a Canadian blizzard wouldn’t cause the airport to close and I would be stranded in Montreal. This time, however, success was mine. 

After checking out at the front desk of my hotel, I raced across the lobby, pulling a luggage cart, and asked the doorman to hail a cab. We sloshed and slithered our way successfully to the airport. (So far so good.) After a change of planes in Chicago, I was just three hours away from the glittering lights of Las Vegas. 

Orllyene always had our three kids all spruced up when they met my plane. The next day, she baked cinnamon rolls and orange rolls – pure heaven. That night we watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Andy Williams Christmas Show on television. We even strung popcorn.

Years later, with my choreography years behind me, we chanced to have a Christmas of a totally different tenor. My former boss, mentor, and friend had asked Orllyene and me to house-sit his villa in Pesaro, Italy, for the month of December. While there, we explored back roads, medieval villages, and delighted in scrumptious places to dine where they served a lemon aperitif after dinner. 

On Christmas day, we topped out and found a one-of-a-kind restaurant on a cobblestone street in Fioronzolla, a forgotten village overlooking the Adriatic. It was midafternoon and a wet snow was falling on the wall of glass in front of us. A platter of crab, shrimp, and lobster was presented along with pasta, salad, and a yuletide dessert. When I asked if I might buy a tiny pitcher, with the restaurant’s name written on it, to commemorate the event, the matronly owner insisted that we accept it as a gift.

This Christmas season is so different from all the others. It requires scrutiny to find flecks of joy in the sands of today’s unknown world. But here is a “fleck.” 

Our neighbor and his brother went Christmas tree-cutting in the nearby hills. With permits in hand, they cut three trees; one for both of them and a dandy four-foot tree for us. It has been a joy to light and decorate the little fellow. Our days are now filled with the music of Johnny Mathis (Orllyene escorted him to his golf game in Atlantic City when she was transportation coordinator); Perry Como songs (I was a dancer on his television show); and the Chipmunks (the Steel Magnolias and I brought smiles to the patients as we danced at South Lyon Medical Center) – all treasured memories.  

To help us get in the spirit of things today, we are writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and going to the Post Office to buy Christmas stamps. This Christmas season will prevail. Have a Merry Christmas.Ron Walker can be reached at