Friday, November 26, 2010

the reason for the season

On Thanksgiving Eve, instead of contributing to the most lucrative night of the year for bar owners, the handsome hubby and I snuggled up to catch up on some newspaper reading and watch a movie.  I would say we are lame, but there is nothing lame about waking up on Thanksgiving morning feeling like a million bucks instead of feeling like something died in your mouth after it spent the night boring a hole in your brain with a butter knife. 

Pre-movie-watching, we plopped down with a few days worth of papers we had been too busy to read.  And when I say newspaper reading, I really mean wading through the giant stack of Black Friday ads that land like a ton of bricks on the front step on the day before Thanksgiving.  If you search hard enough, you might find a couple of pages worth of real news. All those ads stress me out but I decided to peruse a few from my favorite stores.  Initially I was pissed because I found the vacuum I just bought was going to be on sale on Black Friday for a hundred bucks cheaper than I paid, but then I realized that getting up at 3 am with the possibility of getting trampled was not worth a hundred bucks to me.  I guess I have a lot to be thankful for. Then I got pissed again when I thought of all the paper wasted to print these ads.

I started to think about how this Black Friday concept and how it gets crazier each year.  Stores are opening at midnight.  The good sales start at 3 am.  The number of BF ads on tv this week rivaled the political ads before the last election.  Then there is Cyber Monday, which come after BF, but online retailers are already sending out sales trying to get a leg up.  What is all of this for?  That is the question I ask myself every year.  And that is the question I asked the handsome husband last night in bed.  "Whose idea was it for the holidays to be about all these presents?"

The handsome hubby didn't even look up from his paper:

"Jesus was a capitalist." 

And that is why I love him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

words cannot express

Just a few reasons I am thankful today......

Peace, love, and thanksgiving,

Monday, November 22, 2010

a work in progress

Remember the boy who doesn't drink the koolaid?  You know, the one who got to decide his own religious path regardless of the timeline of the Catholic church?  Yeah, that boy will keep you guessing right up until the witching hour.  No pun intended. 

Last Saturday was confirmation day at the parish where koolaid boy goes to school.  It was the culmination of a couple months worth of prep work by the students and years of prep work by priests, teachers, parents, and God to make sure that these kids get to heaven.  For those who know me, it will come as a shock that the last sentence does not contain even a hint of sarcasm.  It's the honest-to-god truth.  The number one goal of our Catholic school, before education, is to get the children to heaven.  I do not make that up.

Now if it hasn't been clear to you before, I will come out right here, right now, loud and proud, saying that I have some very conflicted feelings about organized religion.  I also have issues with the whole father, son, and holy ghost trinity.  All that does for me is conjure up Michael Landon's head in a cloud with the Highway to Heaven theme song playing.  I get turned off by the dogma, the history of religious persecution, and those good Christian folks who judge me for not believing what they believe.  I have my own beliefs and spiritual path but you will never hear me tell you that you are wrong for what you believe.  To each his own.

I digress. I'm not here to bash religion or the Catholic church.  I am actually here to tell you the pride I felt when the golden boy made his final decision. One that I didn't know until it was all over. After weeks of the required studying, report writing, meeting with the priest, getting measured for robes, and a confirmation retreat, the big C day was fast approaching.  He had been asked to serve the mass along with three other boys, something he does from time to time and enjoys.  Yes, my child is an altar boy.  I admired those in charge for keeping him involved despite his rejection of confirmation (and secretly wondered if they were baiting him).  On confirmation day, I dropped off the still undecided potential confirmee one hour early as required and rushed home to change into something that made me look less like a track coach and more like a church lady. I returned to the church and slid into the end of a pew next to a wonderful family I know who helped me feel comfortable in a place that often makes me feel like an outsider. 

I sat quietly, waiting, absorbing the kind of organ music you physically feel in your chest, and wondering why it smelled like a head shop.  Oh yes, the Catholics love their incense.  There was a lot of commotion and then the congregation suddenly stilled.  The organ started up again and we all stood and turned toward the back of the church. It felt like there was a little bit of magic in the room. I had a coveted end seat so I was able to see the faces of each of my son's classmates as they walked down the aisle in their red gowns and hands folded in front of their hearts. I didn't think once about what rotten little shits I know some of them are.  They all looked like angels. It was a beautiful procession. There were knights dressed up with their feathered hats and swords across their chests.  One altar boy waved the incense. The priest and deacon and some other guys who I didn't know were smiling. Then I saw him.  Walking beside his good buddy.  Carrying a candle and leading the way for Santa Claus...uh.... I mean the Bishop.  My breath caught in my throat and I swallowed hard.  My heart swelled because I could see in him the pride he felt in what he was doing and I know the love he has for his friends walking before him. 

After Santa...aka the Bishop.... aka the Mini Pope waved and smiled to all the children in the congregation, the ceremony began.  I sat in reverence as it went on....and on...and on. The Catholics make sure you get your money's worth.  I joke, but the Bishop is a lovely man who delivered a great message to our kids that was exactly what they needed to hear (if any of them were actually listening and not thinking about the party that was to happen afterwards).  He talked about some of his own blunders.  He told them they will make mistakes and they will fall.  This is part of life and it is not bad or wrong.  It is stupid not to get up and move on and think about your path in life.  He actually used the word stupid. I liked him more for that.

I watched as all the children stood in front of the priest and had their heads blessed with oil and made their final commitment to the catholic church.  They blocked my view of the altar and there was a lot of movement, so as much as I strained my neck, I couldn't see what happened to the altar boys and their foreheads.  Then it was all over and I found my boy at the back of the church. He didn't want to stay for the reception.  I guess the xbox was calling.

We walked out of the church together into the damp November air and I shivered.  I turned to him.  "So, did you do it?" 

And this, ladies and gentleman, is what we stressed and strained and fretted about for almost three months.....

"I guess so" he said. 
"What do you mean?" the pitch of my voice raising just a bit. "Did the bishop bless you with oil?"
"Yeah, I think so" he said as he touched his forehead.

And it was then I decided no more words were needed.  He went home to his xbox and I poured a glass of wine.

Some questions take a long, long time to be answered and maybe they never will be.  And that's really ok with me.