Patsy Porco

Archive for December, 2015|Monthly archive page

Merry Christmas Season

In Christmas, Christmas Season, Humor on December 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm

As our pastor, Rev. Michael Boccaccio, points out every year, “Christmas is not a day, it’s a season.” The Christmas season traditionally starts on Christmas Day and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany (or Little Christmas in some parts of the world), which falls on January 6, the day the Wise Men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem.

Partridge in a Pear TreeA song was even written to commemorate “The 12 Days of Christmas.” For the life of me, I can’t figure out if you’re not supposed to count Christmas Day as one of the 12 days, or the Epiphany. If you count them both, then you have the 13 days of Christmas, which is just wrong.

Father Boccaccio told us that the Christmas season has been extended in the Catholic Church and it now officially draws to a close on the day that Jesus was baptized. That date varies from year to year, and can extend to January 15 or so. He insists that no Christmas trees or decorations can be taken down until that day. He threatens to make surprise visits to our homes to check that our decorations are still up after January 1, but we all know that he won’t visit, just like he knows that our trees will be long gone before the middle of January.

Now, let’s return to the Epiphany and those Wise Men. I’ve always had a problem with that story. Mary and Joseph were on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for Emperor Augustus’ mandatory census when Jesus was born. Penalties for disobeying the emperor were undoubtedly stiff back then, so I imagine Joseph bundled Mary and Jesus up shortly after Jesus’ birth and hustled them out of the stable and off to the census bureau.

I don’t see them staying in a stable for 12 days. And even if the landlord did let them linger awhile, it probably took those Wise Men from the general area known as “the East” longer than 12 days to get there. They were following a star, and stars are only visible at night, so they would have had to take the days off to wait for nightfall … and to shop for gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

nativity_Depending on how far east they were, it could have taken them months, or years. But, if they were only a few miles east, they could have made it in time, star notwithstanding. However, nobody knows where they started from. I’ve heard stories that they showed up at Mary and Joseph’s house when Jesus was a toddler. Then again, the accepted story is that they were definitely at the stable at the same time that Jesus and His parents were.

This reminds me of David Sedaris’ story about the six to eight black men who accompany Santa on his rounds in Europe. He wondered why no one had gotten an accurate count over several centuries.* I personally wonder why the whole Wise Men story is so vague, when the other details of Jesus’ birth were documented so clearly. A visiting priest to our parish complicated the story further by saying that there was no mention of three Wise Men in the Bible; only three gifts were noted. That means that any number of Wise Men could have been there bearing three gifts. Or maybe only the three best gifts were mentioned and the Diaper Genie and bottle sterilizer were left out.

Here’s another question: Did the Wise Men reach the stable during the 12 days of Christmas? And why is the revised end of the Christmas season on the day of Jesus’ baptism — which occurred 30 years or so after His birth? The wise men had to have arrived by then, so I suppose that’s a safe date to use.

Using that logic, however, we should never be allowed to take down our trees.

Wise Men




I Yam Not Amused

In Holidays, Humor on December 18, 2015 at 5:57 pm

This week, I was in a gift exchange at work. It was the type known as “White Elephant,” “Yankee Swap,” and probably by many other names. I personally think of it as “Cutthroat Gift Exchange,” because a person can steal the gift you chose rather than choose from the pile.

I had been in a similar exchange before, and while the rules differed a bit, the outcome was the same: your gift wasn’t safe until the game ended. I appreciate that twist because it adds a ruthless component to the mix, which can’t help but result in good feelings all around.

We had a maximum spending limit of $10. With a limit so low, even if your gift was stolen and you really wanted it, you could easily go buy it for yourself. So, the risk of hard feelings was minimal. Or so I thought.

I admit that I broke the spending rule. I bought a $4 flask (on sale) and a $10 pint of Johnny Walker Red. I had to spend the $10 on the scotch because the flask had “Whiskey is my spirit animal” written across the front of it. A bottle of wine wouldn’t make sense with that flask, and there simply wasn’t a decent whiskey to be had for less than $10 at the store I went to. That was fine with me, though. I was willing to settle for a $10 gift in exchange for my $14 one (actual retail price $20).

I was glad that I had spent a little extra. A lot of people wanted it, and it was stolen several times during the game. The gift I received, however, was not stolen even once.

Nobody wanted a sweet potato.

Gift Exchange 2015.



‘Tis the Season to Thank Your Boss

In Christmas, Christmas, Holidays, Humor on December 18, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Don’t you just hate it when you’ve given someone a present and the person doesn’t even bother to acknowledge that it was received? It’s especially hurtful if you’ve put a lot of thought or money into the gift. But, even if you’ve remembered a person at the last minute and emailed him or her a Walmart gift card, you still think you deserve to be thanked, right?

Now, I know that anyone who is reading this is thinking, “Yeah! I hear ya sister!” or something similar, using the current vernacular. You then continue the thought: “If so-and-so doesn’t thank me this year, he/she is OFF my list!” Of course, if you actually don’t send a present to so-and-so, then you will definitely hear from that person, or his or her mother, or even your mother. It’s odd how people always remember to complain.

By now, I probably have you really worked up. You’re probably thinking, “How dare they get angry with me for not sending a gift to someone who can’t even pick up the phone or send me an email?” Damn straight. You would never be so inconsiderate.

Or would you? How often does your boss give you paid days off? Sure, the government might mandate that certain days are paid holidays, but the government isn’t the one paying you to not work. And do you ever directly thank the person who is paying you? Hmmm.

Why don’t we thank our bosses? I work in a very small company and find it strange that we will all gladly accept our Christmas vacation days, and attend the holiday party, yet not acknowledge the person who provided these perks.

It might not be feasible to thank the CEO of the huge conglomerate you work for, but if your supervisor lets you leave early the day before a holiday, shouldn’t you say “Thank you”? And, if you work in a small company, isn’t it downright inexcusable not to thank your CEO, who sits nearby, for your paid company holidays?

We thank people all the time for little courtesies. So, how can we ignore the big ones? I suggest that we all thank our bosses now, before we’re the ones who are off the list next year … or on the naughty list.

And, in this season of goodwill toward men, it’s the perfect time to be grateful and gracious. And if your coworkers disagree, do it anyway … and screw ’em.

Naughty or Nice


(This post is an edited version of my Thanksgiving post.)

On the Other Hand …

In Gun Control, Second Amendment on December 6, 2015 at 1:05 am

The other day, I published a post that probably appealed to more Conservatives than Liberals. It suggested issuing gun licenses to every qualified  U.S. adult. Granted, it was a far-fetched idea, but it was an idea that was a little more original than some I’ve heard. I dislike the term, “thinking outside of the box,” but that was my motive. However, I prefer to call my idea the result of using my imagination to address the Second Amendment debate.

In addition to our right to bear arms, the gun control issue is also concerned with keeping guns out of the hands of potential mass murderers and unstable people. Arming the entire country would include arming those we wish to disarm. Guns enabled our country to become free, but they are now enslaving us. We’re at the mercy of those with no conscience.

Therefore, we have two issues: how to ensure that the citizenry can defend itself, and how to ensure that school children and other innocents aren’t massacred.

We probably don’t have to worry about our own government turning on us, but it can never be ruled out. Who knows what might happen after we’re long gone? A more likely occurrence, however, would be that our country was attacked by another country or by terrorists. If our enemy showed up on our streets, we would want to defend ourselves. Our armed forces won’t be able to be everywhere at once.

What’s a country to do?

How about making all handguns and all assault weapons illegal for the general public? (Hunting rifles and bows and arrows would require background checks and renewable licenses.) Every eligible citizen would be guaranteed a weapon, though, in the event of enemy attack. Guns would be kept in an armory in every neighborhood and every adult person who had registered for a gun, and passed a background check and a gun-safety course, would be issued one, along with ammunition, when their communities decided that it was time to hand them out.

The possibility of corruption and bought-off armory officials who would refuse to dispense weapons would be a possibility. These armories would also be targets for break-ins. Therefore, safeguards would have to be built into the system.

It’s an idea. If you have a better one, let’s hear it. Nobody can agree on the ideas out there now, so let’s try some new ones.


The Penicillin Solution

In Gun Control, Guns, Humor, Mass killings, Solution on December 4, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I don’t think anyone believes that the Second Amendment will be repealed or amended, despite what they might hope. The real issue is: Should people have to register to buy a gun and have a background check before buying one?

One fear is that the government will have a list of everyone in the country who owns a gun. This is dangerous information for a government to have. The answer, I think, is to encourage EVERY willing adult citizen to have a background check and receive a license to buy a legal gun (no AK-47s or assault rifles) if he/she passes. The government would then have a list of approved gun owners that would include a majority of Americans. (Convicted felons would be crazy to sign up for a background check, and those with mental health issues who wish to keep them private would most likely not sign up for a background check, either. People with no issues would also be on the list of non-licensed people, so profiling opportunities from this list would be limited.)

If a person doesn’t want a gun, he/she doesn’t have to buy one, despite having a license. Nobody would know whether a licensed person owned a gun, because there would be no requirement to register legal guns when they were purchased. This way, most of the country will be assumed to be armed.

Criminals will think twice about robbing homes and stores. Anyone who doesn’t have a license to carry and is caught carrying would go to jail. Anyone who is caught selling his/her gun to an unlicensed person would go to jail. Anyone who is licensed and who is later convicted of a crime would have his/her license revoked and his/her guns confiscated. And, there should be monetary rewards given to people who report those illegally carrying. Just an idea.

I call this The Penicillin Solution: fighting the problem with the problem.

(The downside is that domestic shootings might increase. I’ll let someone else solve this problem. I don’t need all of the glory.)


Cannon at Fort McHenry (Cannons probably won’t be allowed under The Penicillin Solution, though.)


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