Saturday, December 26, 2009

A View from the Parking Lot

So it's that time of year when I'm in and out of my car constantly, to one sister's house for Christmas Eve, to my brother's in-laws' house for Christmas Day, to my other sister's house for family gift day tomorrow...and every time I get out of my car, which I leave in the parking lot across the street from my house, I see the Sacred Heart Church.

Abandoned. Empty. Decrepit. Cold. Lifeless. Dead.

And I wonder why nobody ever told me this might happen.

And I wonder if I should be angry.

Or sad.

Or understanding.

Or all of the above.

I think all of the above is what I am, although understanding sits very low on that particular list of reactions. I understand, because it's very clear to me why the church building is no longer viable. There are all kinds of variations and tangents of explanation that can be applied to this issue. I'm going with "mismanagement."

Not of this building in particular. I think it was managed quite well over the years by a number of different men who took their responsibility seriously. Middle-managers who were probably, in a lot of cases, much smarter than their superiors, but because one of the principal functions of their position was to obey, and because they were responsible individuals who took their job seriously, they obeyed.

And look what happened.

So when I step out of my car in the parking lot, and when I look at the church building and the convent to its right and the rectory to its left--all Abandoned.
Empty. Decrepit. Cold. Lifeless. Dead.--my initial, immediate, visceral reaction is that I have been let down hard. Were I to voice that reaction to those in charge now, I would be reminded that another, newer building has assimilated the congregation of the now empty Sacred Heart Church, and I will say, not really.

Because there was a promise made in, and by, that building, and the aura that surrounded it, that has gone unfulfilled, and a new building, in another part of town, is not going to remedy that. With that broken promise, hordes of parishioners have abandoned not only the building, but also the institution. And those of us who have not abandoned the institution are still waiting, I believe, for an explanation that makes sense.

Of course, it is time that has dealt the most powerful sledge hammer to the church and the Church. I recognize that.

But, sad to say, it is some of the people who called and who still call the shots who have inflicted the most severe damage.

So when I step out of my car in the parking lot, I am, for a split second, angry at the building I see. But then I remember what it meant to me as I was growing up, how vital it was, how friendly its people were, how much energy it engendered, how much future it promised, and sincerely promised, and I am no longer angry at the building. Because what it was made me who I am, and that's not the worst thing in the world.

The worst thing in the world is that it's not doing that for this or future generations.

And whose fault is that?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Questions

Just some things I'm wondering about...

When you're a couple in your sixties, and the wife says to the husband, "Here, wear this Santa cap. I'm going to wear mine and we'll go to the mall and we'll both be wearing these Santa caps." When the wife says that, why doesn't the husband lose the car keys or fake diarrhea or just do anything to stay home and not wear the Santa cap to the mall? Why doesn't the husband do that?

When you set up your cell phone ring tone, what's wrong with "ring?" Why does it have to be the 1812 Overture or Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You, Babe" or if you're a kid a recording of all your friends yelling at you to answer your cell phone? "Ring!" Remember how it used to be? "Ring..." So sweet. (Not a Christmas Question, but important nonetheless.)

Why did Barbra Streisand make a Christmas album?

Who invented those effin' blowup Santas and Snowmen and why do they depress me instead of putting me into the holiday spirit? Is it me? Or is it the blowup Santas and Snowmen? (Clue: It's the blowup Santas and Snowmen.)

Why didn't at least one person who sings NOT make a recording of "The Christmas Song?"

Who's idea was it to change the lyrics to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to include the line "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough?" instead of "Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." It makes a beautlful, wistful, almost sad song damn near pointless.

Why did I feel weird about calling this entry "Christmas Questions" instead of "Holiday Questions?"

Why do so many people revere "A Charlie Brown Christmas" yet so few really adhere to the sentiment it evokes?

Why do people who refuse to acknowledge the popular brilliance of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, not bother to champion MEET JOHN DOE, which accomplishes, in essence, the same thing WONDERFUL LIFE does, but in a much darker context. Isn't that what you guys want???

Why do I start these entries and then have no idea how to finish them?

Is Bing Crosby wearing his toupee under his Santa cap at the end of the movie WHITE CHRISTMAS?"

Would you?

An observation as I close:

I watched WHITE CHRISTMAS for about the fiftieth time last night, and instead of relishing the beauty of all the chorus girls in the big dance numbers, I kept saying to myself, "Shit, if they're not dead, they're 85!"