The Last Time We Attended The Tree Lighting

I was still working at St. Vito’s as a seventh and eighth-grade teacher. Eileen had just recently moved to New Rochelle.

We had made a tradition of going to see the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center and had done so for several years. Back then, it was a simple ceremony that lasted less than a half-hour.

While carols were sung, it had not yet been the big production that you will see tonight. Nevertheless, a big crowd had always shown up for the lighting.

It was December 3, 1979, and Eileen and I were accompanied by our friend Bob with whom I worked at St.Vito’s.

We took the train to the city from Larchmont and got down to Rockefeller Center in plenty of time. The crowd seemed much bigger than in past years, and we had to struggle to stay close together.

As the time for the lighting approached, it got a little hairy being in such tight quarters with so many people. We were only a matter of feet apart from each other, but I felt a bit out of control. There was a mother with a child in a stroller right next to us, and the people around made sure not to get too close to her, but it was scary.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived, and the countdown began. The tree was lit, and it was a joyous moment we would always remember. (Bob and I would still laugh and wonder if we actually had seen it go from dark to lit or had we blinked at an inopportune time?)

So, with the tree lit, we started to make our way home…but it wasn’t easy to that.

As I mentioned, the three of us were no more than a foot apart from each other. Nevertheless, it took us a full hour to find each other afterward. We were stuck in a whirlpool of people and were taken hither and yon in many different directions.

It was frightening.

This was a time before cell phones, so being out of contact for so long during a frightening experience took the joy of the moment right out of us. Finally, we caught up with each other and made our way to Grand Central Station to ride back to Larchmont.

When we got home, we got ready for the next workday and then settled down to watch the 11 O’clock news.

The first story was about a rock concert by The Who in Cincinnati.

Evidently, general admission tickets were sold, and no one was assigned a seat. So, people just ran to get the best seats available.

A stampede resulted, and 11 people were killed.

Having just experienced an out of control situation where we were tossed around and unable to determine which way we would walk, this was a frightening thing to see. A time of joy turned into a time of tremendous tragedy.

I vowed I would never put myself or Eileen through something like that again.

In fact, a year later, in September 1980, we were on the train heading to the city to see Elton John in Central Park. No doubt, a large crowd would be in attendance.

As we approached the city, Eileen mentioned that she might be pregnant. After I got over my excitement and joy, I thought about where we were going and immediately decided against going to the concert.

Instead, we went down to the Village and walked around and had a burger at Mr. William Shakespeare’s, a lovely pub in the Village. On the way home, we stopped at a pharmacy, and Eileen got a pregnancy test.

Sean Patrick was born in May.

So, tonight we will be watching the tree lighting ceremony from the comfort of our home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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His Address It Will Be Changin (With Apologies To Bob Dylan)

His Address It Will Be Changin

Come play another round, Donald; that’s all you can do
For Rudy has proven he’s not savin you.
And start packin now because the UHaul is due.
If you have anything worth you’ll be taken.
Then you better start packin Melania’s already leavin.
For His Address It Will be Changin.

Come, lawyers and poll watchers, you let your man down.
You promised that he would still wear his crown.
But the judges you faced shot all your claims down.
And you know who they should be blamin
It’s that orange skin man who made you look like a clown.
For His Address It Will Be Changin

Come all you republicans who cackle like hens.
And defend troubled Donny, who’ll be off to the pen.
Your oath and your office never once did defend.
In the face of this Putin defender.
You cowered to the Commander Tweet-Master.
For His Address It Will Be Changin

Come, Hannity and Ingram, watch your ratings dip.
As Trumpers look for a new place to flip
And don’t be surprised if you choose to jump ship.
‘Cause Trump Network will soon be airin
And when Trump is in charge, sycophants go right in.
For His Address It Will Be Changin

The election is over; Joe Biden has won.
The recounts and recounts and recounts are done.
And there’s no more votes for Trump that are comin
He’s a loser; you’re suckers.
And America comes back in twenty twenty-one.
For His Address It Will Be Changin

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Right Of Reconciliation

Bless me, Father, it has been an extremely long time since my last confession. In fact, the Catholic Church was still calling the sacrament Confession. Now, I hear, it is called the Rite of Reconciliation.

It seems that America needs a Right Of Reconciliation if American Exceptionalism is to be restored.

For a country that has served as a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many years and countless numbers of refugees drawn to our shores, there’s just too much hate and division keeping us from being the country so many have given their lives to preserve.

Clearly, 2020 has been a year when so many of us are at odds with one another. The Viet Nam War divided us but never like what we have witnessed these last ten years or so. Race relations have always challenged our ability to be a united country but never have we faced such challenges as we do today.

Then there’s COVID.

Who would have thought Pole, Cancer, Typhoid, or Small Pox would have caused such a nation’s polarization as has COVID?

It’s a disease! Not a belief system.

Still, that is what I profess to believe.

We know that at least seventy million voters think otherwise.
The question is, why do so many people differ on matters of science?

Well, let’s look at the other side for a moment.

Back in the early 1970s, Archie Bunker was the symbol of the Old Order.
He was deemed a bigot. He was a World War II veteran who didn’t understand how young people could protest against their country and President.

His world was changing in so many ways, and he had no way of adapting to the new world order as his world was being replaced.

There is so much about the people who support Trump that I don’t understand. There is so much about me that Trump supporters don’t know about me. It’s time to try to understand each other even if we will never agree with each other.

The trouble is so much of what we believe is rife with inconsistencies.

Many Americans support a woman’s right to choose but refuse to consider…just consider, what other people believe.

Then you have the Pro-Life people who look the other way when babies are ripped out of their mothers’ arms.

Can we just think about the other point of view for a second?

I am so sick of the Constitution.

It’s ambiguous at best. It was written at a time when women didn’t vote, and blacks weren’t even considered citizens and had no rights. Nevertheless, let’s continue to look at the Original Intent of the Constitution for guidance!

We profess to be a people of faith, but that only seems to apply on the Sabbath.

We talk about the separation of Church and State, which may be a fine concept to apply to government, but it is an inconsistent policy to apply to one’s life. We should not separate our religious beliefs from our daily actions.

Jesus, for one, wouldn’t like that.

The sad thing is that this election has shown us all that nothing will change unless we change. We don’t need a President to change for us. We are reasonable people who know what needs to be done.

So before you cast that first stone at the other side, consider if you are without fault.

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Why 200K?

Twenty years ago, as we had survived the IT Terror of Y2K, I was diagnosed with leukemia.

The word leukemia was enough to scare most people back then and still is a deadly disease today.

I was able to survive because I had an indolent variety that was not as aggressive as the disease often can be. I also survived because I had excellent health care and excellent health insurance.

Although America at the dawn of the twenty-first century was lagging behind other industrialized nations in various categories affecting the quality of life, including education and health care, both were accessible to you and your family if you had money.

Today, while I still receive daily and monthly leukemia treatments, a more significant threat confronts me and the rest of the world.

COVID 19 cares nothing about national rankings in any category. It holds no bias in favor of any degree you may possess or health insurance policy to which you may subscribe. However, the lesser-educated, uninsured, and economically disadvantaged of our population are incredibly susceptible to its ravages.

In the days when our nation was able to put a man on the moon seemingly at will, I would have written, “We can put a man on the moon, but we cannot effectively deal with a pandemic.”

The sad reality is that today we are no longer able to put a man on the moon, and we have failed miserably in dealing with COVID 19.

Along with this sad reality, we are bombarded every day with the absurdity and maniacal incompetence of our national government that has been unable to protect its citizens. Politicians cry out about preserving the Constitution! The hell with the Constitution, protect US!

An outdated piece of parchment that is incapable of protecting itself from daily violations surely isn’t doing We The People any good at all.

While the Republicans and Democrats toss spitballs at each other, Nero is fiddling with history and truth while the west coast burns, the southeast drowns, and the northeast hunkers down for a COVID 19 second wave.

It’s time we wake up and take our country back from the losers who would destroy it.

It’s just startling that a country that helped save civilization and helped to re-build Europe can fail so miserably in addressing its citizens’ needs. America First? Oh, no one believes that.

If America were first in our leaders’ minds and hearts, we wouldn’t have to ask Why 200K?

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Thanking Of You

 

 

I wrote the following for Thanksgiving 2019. Reading it again made me laugh and cry just thinking about what a simple time it was just one year ago.

Well, here we are again soon to be assembled round a turkey with all the fixins.

I am assuming this will be my seventieth Thanksgiving celebration, but I am guessing that not too much turkey was consumed in my earlier commemorations. Commenting that I soon made up for that is not a kind thought to have as we enter the holiday season.

I had a bit more turkey angst this morning than I have had in some time, or ever had. My wife, Eileen, called our local Publix supermarket to order a fresh-killed turkey. She made this call this past Friday and was advised to have it picked up on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

This in itself was reason enough for me to break out into a cold sweat if such a thing can actually occur in Florida. I mean, waiting until the day before Thanksgiving to get your turkey was something our parents would never have permitted. So, this morning, I called the supermarket to see if our turkey was available for pickup.

After waiting a few minutes, I was advised that no such turkey was being held in our name. Okay, not to worry as we had several Publix in our immediate area, so I made some calls.

Each call added to my sense of dread.

No fresh turkey in my name. A frozen turkey would not do as there is no way it would thaw in time for Thursday’s dinner. I began to ponder a Chinese food dinner. Chicken Chow Mein? Well, it did have poultry in it. General Tsao’s Chicken? Again, poultry but not really something the Pilgrims would have had feasted on.

Frantically, I set out on a mission to find a turkey fit to be roasted on Thanksgiving Day.

I need not have worried as they were in abundant supply…at Publix.

I guess I should have asked if they had any available when I was told I had none on reserve. But of course, Publix could have informed me of that fact too, but I have a turkey, and that’s all that matters.

It wasn’t so much worrying about having to face Thanksgiving turkeyless, it was what the turkey always represents in my mind.

The turkey was always cooked by my mother, carved by my father, and devoured by my siblings and in-laws.

Somehow eating turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas is like having it with my family. It has always been like that and will remain so. It is even like that with our children and other relatives who will be having their own meal in distant locations. Yet, no matter how far geographically apart we may be, we will be together.

It’s just that it would be so nice if for only one day to have everyone that we will be missing sitting alongside us as we pile on the yams and the stuffing and drizzle gravy over the turkey.

So, here is to all our dear friends and family, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Forty-Nine

Friday, September 3, 1971, was a memorable day. Life-changing events are almost always memorable, and I experienced a life-changing event on September 3, 1971.

The date also happened to be my mother’s 64th birthday. That is especially amusing as I am six years older than that as I type this story. I guess she really wasn’t all that old back then, nor was Pop who was the same age.

Anyway, as I do every year at this time, I commemorate the day that Eileen and I met. We met forty-nine years ago today, but we met on a Friday night of Labor Day weekend.

She was seventeen and for the first time in all the years reminiscing about that moment I am brought back to the Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There.

After all, she was just seventeen, and I was twenty-one, so you already have a good idea as to what I mean.

She wasn’t really standing there, however, but perched upon a bar stool grinning from ear to ear as if, when she first laid eyes on me, she knew that forty-nine years later there would be a story to tell. How could she have known? And, having known, what a miracle that she stayed seated and grinning as I made my way over to her.

But she did stay, and soon we both realized that we would be staying for good. We didn’t know then about Sean, Jeannine, or Bryan but the idea of “our” children would not have been a surprise as we began our future, making our way home from the Hollow Leg.

Saturday came, and we ventured to Central Park and its environs. The picture that adorns my Facebook page on this date was taken on this trip downtown. The picture is of Eileen smiling into the lens with me holding the camera right next to her. A mirror in the Sherry Netherland Hotel served our reflection onto the film. It’s my favorite picture of Eileen because she looks so happy to be standing next to me.

Another Miracle, I suppose.

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Snow Snow Snow Snow…

One of our favorite songs from White Christmas happens to be the title of today’s entry.

Snow.

Snow is something that I haven’t seen since January 16, 2017.

That was the day that we closed on the selling of our house in East Quogue.

Our Pod was picked up early that morning, and I had to go out to move the cars to allow the truck to access the Pod. It was nineteen degrees, and our driveway had a coating of ice and snow from a previous weather event.

It was winter’s last hurrah…for Eileen and me at least.

So, this morning when I got up, and the temperature in Bradenton was in the 50’s, and I was freezing and had to resort to jeans, sweatshirt, and socks in lieu of a tee-shirt, shorts, and sickles, I thought about what was heading to New York in the coming days.

Snow.

My reaction startled me.

For the last year of Covid, I have been in a geographical funk. I felt trapped in Florida because I was not able to go to London and Ireland. I was not able to come up to New York for my birthday. More importantly and more painful, we were not able to travel up to New York for our grandson’s first Christmas.

I regretted my decision to sell our house in East Quogue and to abandon my family on that last snowy day that we experienced in 2017.

But, watching the New York news channel provided by Spectrum and learning that NYC and Long Island might be getting over a foot of snow just a few days after single-digit temperatures….well, let’s just say Florida’s been looking pretty groovy to me after all.

Instead of looking for places to buy in New York, I started looking for classes my kids could move to down here.

Now, this is just a meteorological over-reaction on my part, but, nevertheless, there is something to be said for snowbirding.

I just re-posted a blog I wrote several years ago when I was still commuting on the Long Island Rail Road, and it reinforced the idea that our decision to move to Florida was a pretty good one after all.

Now, COVID has prevented us from coming up to see our kids. As soon as we are fully vaccinated, that, hopefully, will put an end to our self-imposed (state-imposed?) exile as mask in position, we will venture back to the friendly skies and the beautiful environs of The Bronx.

It will be something that we will no longer take for granted and our ability to see our little EJ in three dimensions will be a treasure we will protect and preserve.

If there is anything that we all have learned during this dark year, it’s that time together with our loved ones…family and friends in New York, as well as the dear friends and family we have down here in Florida, must be savored and enjoyed like a fine wine…a single malt whiskey…a hoppy craft beer.

Nothing says love like alcoholic similes.

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Future Perfect

One of the downsides of being a science fiction fan, both in video representations and literary, is that I was set up to believe that the future would be perfect. Perfect, at least, in the eyes of a child.

Whether it was traveling to the stars or living in a world free of strife, the future was laid out for us as Heaven on Earth. No Dystopian universe to depress us. We may have read Orwell and Huxley but were never persuaded to think that our future would-be authoritarian in nature. No, ultimate freedom and pleasure were what was in store for us.

If George Jetson worked not at all by our standards, and Jane Jetson had a robotic maid to do the housework, life would be grand indeed for us baby boomers of the ’60s.

All of our hopes and dreams for a glorious future were confirmed by the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

Whether it was in the General Electric Pavilion, Progressland, the General Motors Pavillion, Futurama, or The Ford Rotunda, the future was quite literally a Disneyland for all of us to desire.

What made this such a powerful statement of hope for a better life was that the Fair opened five months to the day after our President had been assassinated. If ever there were a time to lose hope for the future, this was one. Perhaps, it helped our nation renew its optimism for a glorious future despite the challenges we had faced and would continue to face?

When we thought about the future in the ’50s, and 60’s space flight was on the top of the list. How many times had we taken time away from math and English in order to watch a space launch? Our teachers back then realized these were historical events, and we frequently were allowed to witness them on a flickering black and white television screen.

We had heard our President declare that we would put a man (no thought of women going to space quite yet) by the end of the decade. So profound was our faith in the future that when our President was shot in 1963, we entertained no doubt that this goal would be achieved.

Indeed, we reached this goal in 1969 and remained seemingly able to launch another moon mission anytime we wanted. Then in 1968, Stanley Kubrick, along with Arthur C. Clarke, made us believe that by 2001 we would have a lunar base from which we could reach the outer planets.

Space shuttles would be the new airplane as Pan Am would expand beyond the Americas and provide space station service daily. Sadly, Kubick’s representation would prove a considerable gaff as the real Pan Am went out of business a full ten years before their so-called shuttle brought Dr. Heywood Floyd to the rotating space station on his way to the Moon.

Oh well.

Nevertheless, in 1968 when 2001 A Space Odyssey debuted, and a full year before Neil Armstrong took that first step, space stations, and lunar bases were still optimistically a certainty.

But the future we imagined as children of the ’50s and 60’s never seemed to come to fruition.

We have many frills of modernity that would have inspired awe in the teenagers of our youth, but few have made our lives that much better.

Sure, I can hear a song on my satellite radio and go to iTunes to instantly purchase it, but that is nothing like going to Camera Craft in Parckchester to get the first 45 copy of I Want To Hold Your Hand.

Finishing a book on my train ride home, it was nice and convenient to go to the Kindle Store and download a new book in a matter of seconds? But is this better than going to an out of the way book store and discovering an unknown author?

It’s not that we don’t have a choice in our music or books or movies, but there is no randomness about the process.

Smart Phones and Smart Televisions have their upside but so too are their downsides. Always being on the grid. Always being available. Always being calibrated by some logarithm.

Our phones and TVs may be smart but are we?

Nostalgia was something we never considered about the future. It would not even enter our mind that the future would present challenges the like of which we are now experiencing.

We read about Big Brother and the Brave New World, but they were never going to be our future, or so we dreamt.

Our dreams and whimsy’s privacy are no longer private as being on the grid is akin to standing naked in Macy’s window.

For many, work has become less laborious, but for too many, it has ceased to represent a means of changing one’s status.

Our lives are not that bad, and certainly I have no reason to bemoan my fate. It’s just that we have seemed to stagnate these last fifty years since we stopped going to the Moon.

Perhaps, successfully meeting our most significant challenge yet and eliminating the scourge of Covid-19 will help usher in those long lost dreams for a utopian future?

That indeed will be a miracle of science that will restore our faith.

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Promises Made Promises Kept

Trump has just delivered the promise of his red hat.

America IS Great Again!

Trump has left the White House.

God Bless America.

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The Deep Fake

Something occurred to me in the midst of my delicious Sunday morning breakfast prepared with excellent culinary skills by my wife, Eileen.

Let me start by stating that I am a devout Anglophile and love everything English. From music to literature, I love it all and consume as much as I can. I subscribe to two streaming services that provide a broad array of English television in both drama and comedy genres.

In many of these distinctly British presentations, the lead characters frequently sip from the omnipresent cup of tea.

I have yet to see any of my favorite characters imbibe in a crumpet and, I confess, which I wouldn’t be able to identify in the first place.

I never thought at all about this glaring omission and wouldn’t even think to raise it as an issue of concern or remorse. However, this morning, as I was finishing my breakfast (not a typical Brit Fryup but containing two of the basics, eggs and bacon), I hit upon a more serious concern than the missing English crumpet.

I was dabbing the last bit of Smuckers Strawberry onto my English Muffin when it occurred to me that not once in my forty years of watching British characters ranging from Monty Python to Sherlock Holmes have I ever seen a Brit as much as mention (not alone eat) an English Muffin!

What’s up with that?

Has a fraud been perpetrated against me? With all their alleged nooks and crannies, is there anything distinctively English about the so-called English Muffin?

For forty years, all I have seen my English cousins of the arts only enjoy two pieces of toast and jam to complement their tea.

I don’t even believe that what Americans buy as English Muffins actually originate in England!

Ok, so occasionally, I have seen the odd scone or two but never an English Muffin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the English Muffins that I have been eating all my life with butter melting in the nooks and jam settling in the crannies, but I think I will have to refer to them by some other name.

It’s just going to take some time getting used to calling our beloved English Muffins, American Tea Breads.

Just another issue to deal with in 2021.

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The Day That Shook America

No, it wasn’t January 6, 2021.

In fact, it wasn’t even in this century.

The day that forever changed America, and from which we have never recovered, was November 22, 1963.

Back in college, I wrote an essay, Decade of Decadence, in which I noted that the Kennedy Assassination ushered in a ten year period of American political and social decay.

I was too short-sighted, as it turns out.

I was thirteen years old in 1963, so you might be correct in questioning the evaluation of memories from a teenager.

The fifties still lingered in Camelot. They may have, in fact, received a jolt of rejuvenation with the election of John Kennedy.

As he reminded us in his inauguration address, he was the first President born in the twentieth century. He saw America’s failures falling behind the Soviet Union in the space race and challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade.

The Civil Rights movement was growing and had the ear of a sensitive President.

We had only sent advisors to Viet Nam, and there is no telling what would have happened if Kennedy had lived, but there is reason to believe that he would not have escalated the conflict as had Lyndon Johnson.

But who knows?

Kennedy was killed by an American citizen and very few people, even today, accept the Warren Commission’s account, which had investigated the assassination. Many people believe that Oswald did not act alone.

This was when Americans were introduced to doubt.

This is when Americans legitimately questioned what their leaders were told them.

Years later, we learned they lied to us about Viet Nam.

Lying about the need to wage war was a bi-partisan disease, as our Gulf Wars’ long history has shown.

We have been lied to in all sorts of endeavors, not just politics.

Religious leaders have shown to be the biggest liars. Whether in the form of shielding pedophiles or merely conning donations from poor people so that megachurches can be built and their preachers live the life of a wealthy Pharisee.

We were even lied to regarding America’s pastime.

Baseball players were taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS) for years, and team owners and sportswriters were (or should have been ) fully aware of this. But players who hit home runs filled ballparks and reaped substantial television deals, and sold newspapers.

Suddenly, they found religion and were appalled and aghast at players breaching the sanctity of their sport and shattering records set by men of character dedicated to truth, justice, and the American way.

So, when another leader tells Americans that the election was rigged and that he was victorious in a landslide, accepting yet another lie is a piece of cake.

We’ve grown so accustomed to being lied to that we wind up believing nothing or everything. Maybe we believe the last thing we hear.

Some believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, but they still want to get the vaccine.

Anti-vaxxers are tired of being lied to, so they don’t believe medical science promotes vaccines as safe and efficacious therapies for all sorts of treatable illnesses.

We hear of such terms as “alternative truth” and “alternative reality.”

So, back to Philosophy 101, we go:

What is truth?

What is real?

On that Friday afternoon in 1963, the only thing I doubted was whether the New York Giants were going to win that Sunday.

But that doubt was quickly replaced by others.

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It Started With Sports

In 1962 my brother Michael won a pair of tickets for the first Saturday game that the New York Metropolitans ever played.

Make no mistake about it; I was a Yankee fan.

Nevertheless, I nagged my father to take me to this game over in the Polo Grounds, which was not an easy do, public transportation wise, from our section of the Bronx.

A few years later, in 1965, my brother Michael bought a season ticket to the New York Jets.

Make no mistake about it; we were New York Giant fans.

But, neither one of us had ever been to a Giant game as this storied franchise never had a problem selling season tickets, which were routinely bequeathed to generations of Giant fans over the years, or so the legend goes.

We probably would have become Met fans and remained loyal Giant fans, but society (at least the society with which we interacted) would never let you be the fan of both New York baseball or football teams.

I am not sure why that was the case, but there it is. You couldn’t do it, and we didn’t.

But there were those who not only refused to root for the other New York team but got distinct pleasure from the other team’s failure. Some even went so far and rooted more against the other team than rooted for their own team.

There were other rivalries, of course, mostly within the group of teams the New York teams actually competed against.

Yankee -Red Sox (although I never remember the Red Sox being a rival when I was a kid.)

Jets- Oakland Raiders, especially in the early days of the American Football League.

That was the real cause of the rancor erupting in New York between Jet and Giant fans. It wasn’t so much that the Jets were another New York football team but that they dared to belong to the upstart (some would say inferior) American Football League, and that went against the traditional National Football League, which had been around for all our lives.

Now, no one should have any concern about rooting for the team of their choice or actually attend a game in which they are competing.

But it hasn’t always been that easy.

There have been fights and even deaths at sporting events because a fan wore the wrong colors to the game.

Sound familiar?

Many fans have a hard time accepting that there are other teams that Americans root for, and it has often gone beyond the point of arguing which team had the better players.

I had a season ticket to all Saturday Yankee games for over sixteen years before moving to Florida. During that time, I stopped going to Yankee-Met games and even Yankee-Red Sox games because often, things would happen that would ruin the experience of attending the game.

So, it is no wonder that we have devolved to the point of hating people who think differently than we.

This last week has been a bizarre period in a bizarre era.

That’s all I have to say about it because anything more would only illustrate the point more.

I am about to watch an NFL playoff game, and I am going to enjoy it thoroughly.

I don’t have a team in either of the three games played yesterday or the three games today.

I could care less who wins.

Naturally, what happened this week was an event in which we all had skin in the game.

But, unlike a World Series or Super Bowl, we all came out as losers.

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E Pluribus Unum

Assuming that most of you haven’t had three years of high school Latin and two years of college Latin:

e plu·ri·bus u·num/ˌē ˌplo͝orəbəs ˈ(y)o͞onəm/noun

  1. out of many, one (the motto of the US).

I’ve always had some difficulty understanding what our so-called motto meant?

Out of many one?

Did it refer to the various states and regions that comprise our country?

Dit it refer to the many types of people who live in our country?

Religion?

Nation of Origin?

Race?

Gender?

Out of many, one certainly didn’t apply to blacks and women when this slogan was adopted.

Eventually, however, E Pluribus Unum’s application did include blacks and women, but some continue to wish that it didn’t.

To assert that we are ONE of many is a ridiculous statement.

We weren’t one in 1776.

We weren’t one in 1860.

We weren’t one when the Doughboys came home after World War I.

We weren’t one when the GIs came home after World War II.

We are certainly not one today.

I was going to write a blog on my desire to reduce my social media footprint.

Facebook and Twitter (never a big user of Instagram) used to be a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family. It was especially nice to re-connect to friends with whom I hadn’t been in contact with for many years.

Now, however, social media has been weaponized into a vehicle of division.

Over a month ago, I got off Twitter due to the people I was following. It wasn’t a political leader or a pundit but rather a group of New York Jet fans. This group whined and whined about the Jets and what they should do.

I just got so sick of all their negativity.

Earlier, I stopped following a few Yankee fans who couldn’t write anything positive about any of the Yankees.

So, I stopped going to Twitter.

I am doing the same with Facebook.

This is a positive step for me to retain a positive outlook and perhaps lose some of my negativity to all that is going on in our country.

I realize that my blogs have irritated people who do not share my views, so I invite them to delete me as I have deleted those who annoy me.

It’s only fair.

After yesterday’s horror, we all need to strive to rid ourselves of the hatred that divides us. It was so sad to see those people storm the Capitol as if we were, as President Trump would say, A Shithole Country.

I was looking at some of these people, wondering what motivated them to act like that and, more importantly, question whether they had anything else in their life that would have been jeopardized by such action?

I wasn’t judging them, only wondering how they got to that point.

When President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, my three children played hooky from school and work to attend this momentous event. They weren’t protestors or demonstrators, merely witnesses to History.

I can’t help but feel that that inauguration in 2009 motivated the seditious act of treason perpetrated yesterday.

I can’t help but feel that the election of a black man to the Office of The Presidency has driven some people to the point of evoking the Dogma of Dixie, and they have been empowered by Trump to come out of the woodwork and proudly stand up for racism.

The only question that remains is, will E Pluribus Unum survive?

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Another Christmas Passing Through

Ordinarily, I am a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas and, in particular, the Christmas Season.

We always learned that The Epiphany, January 6th, marked the day the Magi gave their gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Murr to the newborn Messiah. Therefore, the Christmas season extended to January 6th.

No matter that we usually went back to school before this date, in my view, Christmas was still going on.

The tree was still up and decorated (unless it was a real tree, which would be long gone by now.)

My trains were still set up.

My new toys still retained their newness and were probably driving my mother crazy, still strewn across the living room floor.

Today, January 1st, the new year barely 12 hours old, I am ready to move on and leave Christmas early.

No matter how I tried to keep the season as I had always done for the last sixty-plus years (assuming my early years were not really in my power to commemorate a season of any type), it just wasn’t the same.

I don’t mean to complain about that either because so many people have much more to complain about than I, and it would be grossly disrespectful to them to moan about my Christmas.

Still, I have had some justification for feeling less than jolly this yuletide season.

I haven’t seen my children in over a year, and there is a cute little guy in the Bronx who I have yet to see in person.

Thank God for Zoom and FaceTime.

As I prepared to spend New Year’s Eve last night, I thought of last year.

At that time, Eileen and I were booked for a trip to London and Dublin.
Then, when we got back, we would go up to New York for my birthday.
Those trips were quickly quashed, but we were soon given new hope for another trip.

Our daughter was due to have our first grandchild in December, so, in June, anticipating that the worst would be behind us, speaking pandemicly, we booked a trip to New York for December 1st.

We even built in a fourteen-day quarantine period just in case.

Well, the worst was not behind us, and we had to cancel that trip as well.

Nevertheless, I have no reason to complain, and I really don’t think I am.
Relating this is just my way of justifying bailing out on the Christmas season.

Last night I wrote about Faith, Hope, and Charity, and I hope to maintain these virtues as 2021 progresses. We have to remain positive in the face of such challenges, but we have the example that our parents have provided, and, like them, we will overcome 2020 and make 2021 a better year for us all.

Happy New Year, once again.

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On The Eve Of Christmas

I know, the title is backward but in 2020, what isn’t?

Over two thousand years ago, the Roman government proclaimed an edict requiring all the Jews to return to the town of their origin. So, thousands of Jews were urged to travel.

Today, our government (well, at least the CDC and the NIH) urges everyone to stay put.

The other night we witnessed the Great Conjunction of 2020.

It is believed that the Magi witnessed the same event, Jupiter and Saturn in the closest proximity to each other. The last time this type of conjunction occurred was over eight hundred years ago. The rarity of this event is what motivated the Magi to follow the “Star of Bethlehem.”

Again people traveled.

Christmas has been the subject of songs, movies, and novels, and other works of art. It has also been a polarizing topic causing people to argue over such a mundane matter as “Merry Christmas” v. “Happy Holidays.”

How silly that argument seems today.

One thing that many of us agree on is that Christmas has been much too commercialized in recent years…recent meaning my lifetime.

But this year, the true meaning of Christmas has struck home even as we are stuck home.

Christmas isn’t about your Christmas tree or ornaments but about the people who decorated and enjoyed your Christmas tree.

Whether you have turkey, roast beef, or a beautifully glazed ham is of no consequence if the ones you would love to share a meal with are a thousand miles away unable to travel to you.

It’s not the food but the people passing the plates of food around the table.

Then on Christmas morning, the big concern was, “What did you get for Christmas?”

This year? We’re all getting coal.

We realize that it was never the train or bicycle, or Play Station, or Foosball game that you might have given but having the loved ones of your life opening those gifts revealed what the Magi and Shepards felt on that night over two thousand years ago.

Christmas was never commercialized.

All the toys and ties and gift cards could never stand in the way of the true meaning of Christmas and, in the Pandemic year more than ever, and it has never been so evident as to the true meaning of Christmas.

Those of us who are protecting ourselves and the ones we love most in the world have opted to make the sacrifice and stay home knowing that Christmas, like Thanksgiving, will be celebrated in 2021 on the very first day that we have all been vaccinated.

It may be that Memorial Day will be Thanksgiving, and The Fourth of July will be Christmas.

Right now, that works for me.

In the meantime, we all share in the gift of having loved ones to care about and who care about us.

Merry Christmas all.

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I Now Understand The Meaning Of Advent

As a kid in Blessed Sacrament, I always felt that the Christmas Season started on Thanksgiving. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade culminated with the arrival of Santa, after all.

Then the day after Thanksgiving began train season, as in Lionel trains.

The religious equivalent for me was the First Sunday Of Advent.

In Church on Sundays during Advent, there was a Christmas wreath decorated with four candles. Each Sunday, a new candle was lit so that by the end of Advent, The Fourth Sunday of Advent, four candles twinkled on the altar.

It was quite festive.

Then, too, we began each mass by singing O Come O Come Emmanuel. That was always one of my favorite hymns.

So, Advent was the beginning of the Christmas Season, liturgically speaking.

The trouble is it wasn’t and isn’t.

Advent is a period of longing and anticipation. It’s not a joyful season, or at least the Church doesn’t consider it to be a joyous time. In fact, we had a priest not too long ago in East Quogue who used to urge us not to light the Christmas tree or any Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve.

Advent was not supposed to be a time to celebrate but to anticipate an event that was worthy of a magnificent celebration.

I would always object to this interpretation because I reasoned, we always seemed to Need A Little Christmas Right This Very Moment.

2020 proved my interpretation was the correct one.

Nevertheless, Eileen and I have experienced the true meaning of Advent in 2020.

About six months ago, our daughter Jeannine told us we were going to be grandparents.

Thus began our Advent.

Since that time, we waited in great anticipation. It was not without its suffering. We are here in Florida, and she is in The Bronx. In normal times we would have jumped on Jet Blue and whisked up to be with her.

Covid made this impossible back in June.

But the summer seemed to bring us a reprieve as the infection seem to wane. We made our plans to come up to New York and even timed a fourteen-day quarantine so that we would be there for the birth of our grandchild.

Of course, during this frustrating time of 2020, our plans had to be canceled. It was just too dangerous for us to travel, and in all likelihood, we wouldn’t be able to see our new baby.

Longing and anticipation won out, and no matter how close we get to Christmas, I couldn’t imagine feeling the joy we had so needed.

Until yesterday.

At about 3:30, Ethan James was born, and Christmas had come early to our family.

The joy that Eileen and I feel and his parents and his uncles, Sean and Bryan, overcame the darkness of 2020 and restored the light of hope.

All is well once again.

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