Sunday, December 31, 2017

Why older sisters sometimes seem snippy

My older and wiser sister Norma Fairman, who lives in my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario, reminded me the other day that when we were growing up together, one of the many holy days our late mother acknowledged was January 3, two days after New Year's.

Mom and Church officials called the day the "Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus."

Before I tell you why Norm and I were on that topic, I should remind you that I was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and that our mom, Huena, was as familiar with the church calendar as any one of her children is with the route to the nearest beer store.

Huena was so conversant with which saint gets revered on which day, she could have turned it into a party trick, or  a game of theological jeopardy.

Me (or better yet my brother Alex. Get it? Jeopardy?): "What is July 25th?"

Huena: "Feast of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers." (By 'travelers', I'm sure Huena wasn't referring to the drinks so many people took in their cars back then. Who knows?)

Huena, on a moment's notice, knew where to turn for quick assistance from heaven. St. Anthony could find your lost car keys. Or a quick prayer to the patron of music, Cecelia, might help you make the senior girls' choir, so you don't end up being asked to "turn pages" like what happened to your sister.

Then there was St. Blaize.

Blaize was an Armenian doctor,  monk, and--ultimately--martyr who died in 307 A.D., after--according to Wikipedia--"being attacked with iron combs and beheaded."

JUST SAY AHEM: Or should that be ahymn?
Blaize had something to do with respiratory ailments. On his feast (Feb. 3), Catholics across the world (at least on our street) traipsed to church to line up then one by one--sometimes I can't believe the stuff I write--and stand in front of a priest who held crossed candles under our throats and murmured some little prayer to St. Blaize to fend off throat disease.

Sounds weird, I know, but--and I never thought about this until right now--in all my years I've not  had so much as tonsillitis.

But let's get back on topic here. Just mentioning the St. Blaize ritual reminded me of another ritual and why Norma and I were talking about the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

Here's what Norma told me. She was laughing about the fact that even though we called it "The Feast of Most Holy Name of Jesus," January 3 actually commemorates--I hope you're sitting down--the day Jesus got circumcised.

When she told me Norma laughed.  I, and I don't use the word literally loosely, literally squirmed.

I've lived a long happy life not knowing about the real meaning of January 3, but this year, thanks to my loving sister Norma, this coming Wednesday will be just a tad less comfortable.

One of the reasons we all remember Huena so fondly is that she had a way of editing the world for her kids. She worked hard to get us into heaven; and she shielded us from as many ugly truths as possible. God bless my mom.

On the other hand, as evidenced by her delight in telling me about Jesus' 'procedure,' I've long known that when it comes to Norma, I can always count on her to cut to the quick.

I guess that's what older sisters are for.

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