So this last weekend, the three boys all had days off, as did my wife. One boy had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but on Monday he was off. That gave us the rare chance to all get together and enjoy some old time family jaunts. My Mom was with my sister, and we put the pooch in the kennel, and off we went.
Given the constraints, and the weather, we did only a few things this weekend, but it was nice having the boys back together. It's not easy, BTW. Perhaps the most difficult thing I've done is figure out how to keep the focus on our youngest and build traditions with him when the older boys are seldom around. He still wants to do the old things they always did, but it's just not practical anymore. We can squeeze a few things in here and there. But on the whole, without him feeling severed from the older three, it's been a challenge to make sure he has his share of new memories.
So when the chance presents itself, the older boys have done their best to be there for him, and for that I thank them. To seize the moment, and it being both an important Veterans Day as well as Catholic Martinmas, we decided to hit two separate but relevant spots. The last we do in order to keep the bridge between our oldest who remains Catholic and the rest who went to the Orthodox. I still keep one foot in the Catholic yard, praying and hoping.
One stop was the National Shrine to Our Lady of Consolation that is only about an hour and a half or so away from where we live. Sadly, it was bitterly cold and owing to some vandalism a few years back, the gates were closed to the great outdoor altar. We could get there by foot, but hadn't planned on it since last time we were there you could simply drive straight in. We made it back to the actual sanctuary for prayers and quiet time. It's always a sight to behold.
Then we went to the local cemetery to do our annual cleaning off of the headstones and paying our respects. Again, due to Global Warming, it was much colder than usual. That made it tough, especially since a couple of us have been fending off colds. But we made sure to get our time in. Then while cooking my signature homemade chili, we played games and watched some war movies. Patton is always a safe bet. Then with homemade apple strudel and snacks, we all hunkered down for an evening viewing of AMC's The Lost Battalion.
My boys made an interesting observation. The made for television movie, clearly influenced by Saving Private Ryan, and released alongside HBO's Band of Brothers, seems to have been revised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Watching closely, they noticed a couple scenes that seemed out of place, like those scenes added at the end of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke only talks of Vader as Father when he's by himself.
The added scenes of The Lost Battalion seemed to be those that not only were cheering on America's grit and determination, but especially giving kudos to those 'New York gangsters' and their ability to overcome anything; the emphasis being on New York especially. I said it wouldn't surprise me if they did that. There was, in the wake of the attacks, an upsurge in patriotism and unity. My boys said, to them, there is the Wake of 9/11 and Post-9/11. The Wake of 9/11 is what they imagine when America came together, albeit briefly. And I assure them it was very briefly. Then there is Post-9/11, when the Left realized they couldn't let something like the attacks stop them in their desire to burn the American Experiment to the ground and rebuild it in a Leftist/Marxist/post-Christian image.
So there you have it. Tributes, devotions, fun and games and even history lessons reflected upon. Not bad for boys who are so busy. And as they said, we have it to God and the Veterans to give thanks for our ability to so freely plan such things to begin with. I think they get it.
|How 'November in Ohio' can you get?|
|It went from frost on the pumpkins to straight out snow|
|A cold and blustery walk to the outdoor altar|
|A long view of the altar|
|They were laughing about how cold it was|
|Inside the Basilica - it takes your breath away|
|The game stays up, and when they can get together we make it a few more turns|
|At the cemetery, reflecting on those who gave that last full measure of devotion|
|We didn't have much of a 'ghost run' this year, so decided to stop by the old haunt|
|An almost symbolic picture, as the oldest slowly turn away while the youngest looks on|