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Family tradition inspires ‘The Tale of the Sad Little Elf’

Nov. 1, 2013
<b>Susan Gallagher Skibinski has published a poem by her late father Christopher Gallagher Sr. and turned it into a holiday book.</b> <br>Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

Susan Gallagher Skibinski has published a poem by her late father Christopher Gallagher Sr. and turned it into a holiday book.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

By G. Michael Dobbs


CHICOPEE – Susan Gallagher Skibinski hopes to share what was a family tradition with others with the publication of “The Tale of the Sad Little Elf.”

Skibinski is the daughter of the late Christopher Gallagher Sr., a Springfield baker who wrote poetry as a hobby, one of which was written 48 years ago and then published in 1995 in the Springfield Journal.

Gallagher moved to Springfield with his wife and nine children to Springfield from Rome, N.Y. and worked at the former Mohegan Market. Later he baked for special functions at Smith College with one of his assignments being a wedding cake for Patricia Nixon.

In his pare time, he wrote and short stories and Skibinski said she would encourage her father to publish his work.

“He was always for the underdog,” she recalled of his work and added her father was active in supporting the Springfield Boys & Girls Club.

The reading of “The Tale of the Sad Little Elf” became a tradition Skibinski explained at the annual Christmas part of the family. After her father died, the youngest child in the large family would read the poem at the holiday gathering.

Skibinski would send copies of the poem to fiends. “One of my friends told me ‘You should make that into a book,’” she recalled.

She explained that after her father’s passing in 1999 she had thought more about having the poem published as a book.

Gallagher’s poem tells the story of one of Santa’s elves and why he is upset.

As the former executive director of the Hampden District Medical Society she had worked with a local printer in South Hadley on the society’s newsletter. She discovered the printer’s wife, Dorene Pennell, was an artist and spoke to her about illustrating her father’s poem.

“I loved her whimsical illustrations,” she said.

Seeing the finished book for the first time was “emotional” for her. “They handed it to me and I broke down,” she said. “He [her father] would be so proud.

Originally, she thought the book would just be for members of her extended family, but she has made it available for sale to others at $7.95. Interested people should contact Skibinski by email at hampdensuzanne@yahoo.com.

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