The LuLac Edition #119, Dec. 29, 2006
PHOTO INDEX: WBRE TV'S JILL KONOPKA WHO ANCHORED THE NEWS ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT AND BISHOP JOSEPH MARTINO WHO WILL BE GETTING A LETTER OF SUGGESTION FROM THIS BLOG EDITOR.
POST CHRISTMAS RANTINGS
Now that Christmas is over, allow me to give you the Holiday Wrap Up from the LuLac clan. I was going to do this right after the big day but the death of former President Ford took precedence over these thoughts.
A LETTER TO THE BISHOP
I’m going to write a letter to Bishop Martino with a suggestion concerning Christmas Masses for Roman Catholics. I want the Bishop to set up a program for practicing Catholics that will give them special dispensation from attending Christmas Eve and Christmas day services. Here’s how it would work. If a Catholic reaches 98% attendance during a church year, he or she will be awarded a special pass from going to church on Christmas or will be able to attend church on Christmas at an undisclosed time made available only to the Catholics who reached 98% attendance during the year. The attendance would be tracked by video surveillance in the church and/or by a special parish tracking mechanism that would record attendance.
My reasons for this came to a head when we attended Mass on the Christmas Eve vigil. This Mass, along with Midnight Mass is when everyone attends church. On the surface this should be a good thing but unfortunately it is not. The problem with Christmas Mass is that people who haven’t been inside a church in years attend. Most of these people have no clue how to act in a church. When I was young, I was taught that when you entered a church, it was a sacred place to reflect and think prior to the service. Especially on a high holy day like Christmas, you were supposed to sit in silent anticipation reflecting on the holiday, your good or bad fortune and the significance of the day. But this is the new century and for a majority of Catholics I saw and heard on Christmas Eve night, the event was not about the solemn Christ child……..but ALL ABOUT THEM. Here’s what I heard around me on Christmas Eve night in my church.
1. A whiney young teenage girl, about 16 who should’ve known better went on for twenty two minutes about the stitches in her mouth from dental surgery. It was a relentless catalogue of the surgery, the pain, the tightness of the gums, the way she was forced to spit and the pills she had to take for the pain. This girl could out symptom a lonely, senior citizen hypochondriac in a nursing home. Eighteen minutes in, my wife reached into her purse and put in earplugs.
2. The mother of the whiney teenager who should’ve known better begins to talk to the daughter about various operations relatives have had telling her that hernia operations are the worst.
3. Also from the same pew behind us was a discussion about what each was giving someone for Christmas. “You spent $700 on that skank, are you kiddin’ me?” At that point, I took a notepad out of my suit coat and began to take notes. This was too unreal to believe.
4. In front of me, a young girl asked her uncle why zip codes existed. Why she picked this time on this day is anyone’s guess.
5. Next to the young girl was a middle aged side of beef who said the following, “I’ll be damned if she’s gonna come over my house and start that shit with me. As far as I’m concerned she can go to hell”. She was in the fifth row just a few feet from the alter.
6. In the first two non designated rows of the church pews, (the first three rows were roped off for the procession of the children) two men sat with their arms draped across the seats and chatted about the availability of parking, the Plains Christmas lights and various and sundry subjects.
7. Up ahead toward the front there was a pretty young blond woman who seemed to be concentrating on something. “Prayer” I thought finally. No, her intensity was dedicated to moving the gum from one side of her mouth to the other.
8. A dad armed with a digital camera steadied himself to get the shot of one of his young darlings coming down the aisle. But before doing so, he loaded up with a few sticks of Juicy Fruit.
Now you are most likely saying that I’m a self righteous busy body who should’ve been paying attention to his own spiritual needs instead of eavesdropping on the folks in church. You are most likely saying that I am a sinner and should not be throwing stones at these people, that as a fellow Catholic I should be more inclusive and proud that my fellow brethren came back to the flock.
Let me address that. First, I am a sinner. I have skeletons and demons that could fill a warehouse let alone a closet, and I regard myself as not the perfect Catholic. I go to church, I try to concentrate on the subject at hand and try to reflect on why I’m there. It is one of the few places in the world where I do keep my mouth shut, subjugate my ego and personality because going to church is sacred, not secular. And you act differently in a sacred situation than you do in a secular one. It’s a thing called respect.
As far as being a busy body and eavesdropping, that was easy because I had no choice. These conversations about the dental surgery, the $700 gift for the skank, the zip codes and parking were all presented not in a whisper but in “mall conversation”. It was as if these discourses took place at the Mall instead of a church on the most sacred day of the year. Going to Mass on Christmas has evolved from being a sober, soft reflective holiday to a secular event. At first, I thought I was being too tough on my fellow Catholics but two things nailed it for me,
1. The gum chewing and
2. the total immersion into self that I witnessed at this Mass.
Prior to the holidays I caught the Bishop on TV with Dan Gallagher. I am not a regular watcher of the Catholic Channel but the Bishop had some interesting things to say about modern day Catholics. One of them was the fact that many young Catholics are choosing to not get married and live together. And that the only time they attend Mass is when they have to whether it be for the kids at Christmas, Communion or Confirmation. The Bishop made the point that after Confirmation, he may never see those kids or parents ever again. And on Christmas Eve, I got to thinking about what he said. The people who attend Mass once a year really have no reference point as to how to behave in a sacred setting. That is so because many are not familiar with the true grounded spirituality of why you should go to church. And if that’s the case, then why should the Catholics who take their religion seriously, respect the solemnity of the feast day and go to a Mass not only on Christmas Eve or Christmas but every Sunday have to put up with this boorish behavior on the big day? The sad part is that if you called any one of them on it, the gum chewers and the mall talkers would get insulted because they think being there is enough. After all, it’s all about them and not anyone else.
I have major faults, and many of my mistakes and flaws have publicly been chronicled. I am no saint. But at least when I enter a church, my life with all of its silliness, problems and minutia ends for the length of that church service. I, in effect try to give myself to God by thinking and reflection. And failing that, (which I often do) I just keep my mouth shut and don’t cause my wife or anyone near me such annoyance that they have to resort to earplugs to enjoy or “get” the service.
Politically I always said I don’t want everyone to vote because I never want to put my future as a citizen in the hands of uneducated morons who have no grasp of the issues. Sadly, I have come to the same conclusion that not everyone belongs in a church service, even if it’s on Christmas Day, if they can’t respect the tradition, the liturgy and the sprit of why they are there in the first place. If that makes me a bad, “non inclusive Catholic”, then add that on to the others sins I’ll be burning off in Purgatory. And if no one down there believes me about the horrendous behavior of some of my fellow church goers at Christmas 2006, I’ll simply say, “Need proof? I took notes!”
THE NEWS ON CHRISTMAS
WNEP TV did a pretty neat thing on Christmas Eve. They did stories of the year about people in their newscast. Jill Konopka had the Christmas Day anchor duties on WBRE TV and did a very admirable job reporting the hard news events of the day. She is one of WBRE TV’s best field reporters.
When Christmas night comes around, essentially the TV networks seemed all out of holiday cheer. The big lead up to the holiday had various and sundry specials on but when Christmas Night rolls to a close, there’s not much. A few years back, Cable Networks ran the Godfather trilogy non stop). Thank God for the NFL.
Hope you got everything you wanted for Christmas this year. Most relatives bestowed on me gifts of alcohol this year from bottles of Francis Ford Coppola wine to Bailey’s. (Normally, I can always count on a Green Bay Packer, Cleveland Indian or since 2004, Buffalo Bills article but perhaps having seen WBRE TV’s Amy Bradley interview me on TV at the Yankee Gift Store at the Stadium, maybe they thought I handled the sports thing myself). Apparently one gift giver told me that State Stores in the area did not have the new Bailey’s that had caramel or mint chocolate. She told me that one lady threatened to call Governor Ed about the mistake. One wag in the store yelled from behind a few boxes of cheer, “Call him at Lincoln field, he ain’t gonna be back in Harrisburg until the Eagles are done!” I have no idea why I got so much alcohol this year but I am grateful for the thought and the gift. And since this is the blog day where bloggers are supposed to drink themselves silly, hey I’m stocked up and ready to go.
Had dinner at Nona’s, the old Groggge Shop and Martini’s. Food was good but the service was real slow. The place wasn’t crowded so I began to wonder why the wait staff kept on running around like chickens with their heads cut off! Also ate with a buddy up at La Trotteria in Scranton. It was a few days after Christmas and he was remembering how an uncle, since deceased made a pasta dish with olive oil, and anchovies for Christmas Eve dinner. He mentioned it to the waitress and they whipped it up for him in a flash.
We went to the Courthouse to get our Passports. I never had one but if we ever need to fly to the Caribbean again, (fat chance of that happening) we’ll be prepared. The Courthouse employees in the Pronthonatary’s Office were great. The tree in the rotunda was beautiful but from our vantage point you could see the water damage on the ceilings. Anyway, the back area of the courthouse is still unpaved and looks and feels like the lunar surface. But all in all, it was a nice day to visit and accomplish something.
Maybe I can get myself a federal grant to study the forms of government in Jamaica, St. Thomas or the Domincans and do a study on that for the feds. With apologies to Joe Leonardi, let’s see, where’s Kanjo’s phone number……….
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Spent a wonderful Christmas Eve night with the in laws. Normally I make my pasta with butter sauce and lobster but this year decided not to since we had an abundance of the traditional Polish-Slovak-Italian foods for the vigil meal. Instead I brought the desert which were these incredible Italian cookies made by my friends down at the Sanitary Bakery in Nanticoke. After unwrapping presents, we chatted and made our way back home. I am always struck by the solitude of Christmas Eve, Christmas morning. Everyone seems to be where they are supposed to be for one evening.
On Christmas morning we stopped at my mom’s who did everything in her power to try and feed us. We snacked on some cheese and ham and unwrapped gifts. My nephew Troy gave me his traditional gift of a certificate to Sabatelle’s Market in Pittston where I selectively buy really sharp Provalone cheese during the course of a year.
We then did dinner at the in laws and watched the Eagles-Cowboys game. This was quite a Holiday sacrifice since my brother in law Kenny (unlike my other brother in law Owen) is devoid of any passion when it comes to the NFL. My nephew Todd received a call saying that his apartment in Daytona Beach was safe despite the tornados they had there earlier in the day. That surprised us all but when we got home and put on the Miami game, it was pouring rain.
Tuesday night I exchanged gifts with my friend Dana. On Wednesday I had lunch with my buddy Frank in Scranton and on the way home, despite the plethora of cookies and food this holiday season, I saw the “Hot Donuts” sign on at Krispy Kreme and went in for just one. (Really, just one! I’m not lying here!)
My friend since first grade, David is set to touch down and visit Sunday. I got him a U.S. Open Tennis racket. Before my accident, we used to attempt to play regularly. I think I bought it in the hopes of someday thinking we might be able to do so again.
The media buddies have been in touch during the season. My buddy Fitz from 98.5 KRZ ordered 4 of my new books which were supposed to be out as stocking stuffers for Christmas but because of production problems never got finished until the 23rd of December, Greg Strom, my former boss at WARM and fellow Packer fan now in Wisconsin was in touch, my friend Pat from WNAK/Lite 94 called to wish me a Merry but then put in a plug for me to come and consider working at his shop, and I was treated to Sue Henry on WRKC FM the Saturday before Christmas playing holiday tunes. My good friend Shadoe Steele also had a wonderful holiday program on KRZ too.
My two former bosses from the call center in Salisbury, one a Lesbian Democrat in a very committed relationship, the other, an arch conservative Republican with a policeman/husband and two kids checked in too.
I have yet to contact my child hood friends Paul, Bruce and John from Florida who is now much to his chagrin known as John from Pittston but that will come along.
My cousin Paula called to thank me for a DVD I found on the internet of the old Bell Telephone Christmas show featuring marionettes. Anyone under 48 who sees it doesn’t remember it but we included that in the annual Christmas CD we give to relatives.
Pete Cassiidy sent some great pieces that we will run near New Year’s Day and my friend Jim from Colorado was suffering through his second blizzard in just one week. A former resident of Kingston, he was stunned at the lack of snow here as I’m sure the new owners of Sno-Mountain are too.
So that’s the post Christmas wrap. A few weeks ago we opened up some cards and they had the sender’s annual Christmas letters in them. Mary Ann really doesn’t care for them because she thinks they tell too many people too many things about the sender. It occurs to me that in this post, I sent the entire world one of those Christmas letters she so detests. Oh what the hell, she doesn’t read my blogs anyway! But I’m glad you do!