NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Not everyone in the room understood the words, but the tunes of the songs sung Tuesday by members of the French Club at the Northbridge Senior Center were dead give-ways. It is the season of Christmas.
Jeannine Dionne, program director at the Center, started the French Club three years ago.
A large number of French-speaking people were drawn to the Blackstone Valley by the promise of jobs in the woolen and cotton mills that once flourished along the Blackstone and Mumford rivers.
Their children didn’t speak English until they entered school, Dionne said. French was the language used at home and whatever English the parents learned they learned from their children.
Those parents are now dead, and those children are now the community’s senior population. Most have no one close to them who understands French. Dionne, who speaks that language fluently, thought that was a great loss. So she suggested the French Club.
This year, she took the club a step further by suggesting a Holiday French/English sing-along, an idea happily embraced by its members.
They sang a variety of Christmas songs, from Mon beau sapin" - the French equivalent of the Christmas carol "O Christmas Tree", to the classics Silent Night and Joy to the World, to the silly Gramma Got run Over by a Reindeer.
Some songs were sung in English, some in French, and some in both.
Edith Morrissette, better known as Ditto, sang an emotional “I’ll Be home for Christmas,’’ and then mentioned that she would be seeing her grandson for the first time in about year. “He’ll be home for Christmas,’’ she said.
“We’re got a lot of talent in this room,’’ Dionne said, and she’s now hoping to form a Senior Center chorus.
Anyone interested in participating should call her at 508-234-2002. Chorus members don’t have to be residents of Northbridge, she said.