Volume 5, Issue 6        November/December 2003


The Rear  End         the last word___________
Happy Holidays

Christmas morning of 1999 brought our family the most unique and confusing Christmas present we had ever been given; two months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for my wife, compliments of her brand new oncologist. Since we had just been given a diagnosis of cancer with possibly no treatment on Christmas Eve, this was truly the gift of life for us.

It also turned out to be our most enduring gift from that Christmas as Laurie is still with us four years later. My family learned that year that all great gifts aren’t always wrapped in pretty paper with a ribbon and some of them take a little time to really appreciate.

Owner, SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc., 
Orlando, Fla.


My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It’s one of the best days of the year. It’s the one day the whole family gets together. It’s nice that we’re all healthy and able to get together—and you don’t think about the glass business!

President, Tri County Auto Glass Inc., 
Lagrangeville, N.Y.

Even now, nearly 33 years later, it still is my most memorable holiday experience: December 23, 1970. I was in Toronto, Canada, eager to go home after a two-week business trip to the United States and Canada. At the time I was living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (little did I know, that 2 1/2 years later, the United States would be my adopted country).

As many other people, I was eager to be home for the holiday season. My plans were to fly out of Toronto, late in the afternoon of the twenty-third and be back in Amsterdam early morning on Christmas Eve. 

On the morning of December 23, it started snowing and it soon became clear that the snow would not stop in the near future and we would be stuck in the hotel on Christmas.

After dinner, I walked around for a little bit and found a Steinway Grand Piano in one of the meeting rooms. I asked the general manager if we could move the piano into the lobby and he gladly obliged. Amazingly, the piano was tuned a week before and was in wonderful shape.

There was a giant Christmas tree in the lobby and we placed the piano right there. By that time, it was about eight o’clock and there were quite a lot of people in the lobby, wondering what was going on. I started playing “Silent Night” and soon some of the guests started singing. Before long, every single guest came down from their rooms to the lobby. Since my Christmas repertoire was limited, I asked if there were other volunteers to play or to sing. An elderly woman named Shirley came forward. Shirley was born in Vienna, Austria, survived the Holocaust and had an accent thicker than Arnold’s. Shirley must have been a beautiful woman in her youth, but now she was practically blind and troubled by terrible arthritis. I was surprised [that] she wanted to sing “Frank Mills” from the musical “Hair” That night, a crippled and tired 60-some-year old woman with terrible eyesight gave the performance of her life. If she [had] performed on a Broadway stage, there would have been a standing ovation. 

Then there was Mario, an Italian plastic surgeon with two missing fingers on his left hand. He played all the famous Italian songs on the piano and had a great baritone voice. His piano playing, however, was atrocious.

I could go on and on, remembering most individuals, participating or just listening [on] that snowy Christmas Eve in Toronto 33 years ago. Some of us are now in that great music hall in the sky; some of us are still around and in touch with each other. As far as I am concerned, it may still snow in Toronto. Ironically, I cannot remember if we ever sung: “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

-HENRI GOUDSMIT, Division Manager, 
AEGIS Tools International, Madison, Wis.

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