Today is the first Sunday in December and a time when thousands of carolers gather at New York's Brick Church. The music warmed the hearts of the young and old who gathered in the 30 degree weather.
The annual Park Avenue tree lighting ceremony is in its 66th year. It is a time to remember, to the stirring sound of taps, those brave Americans who have fallen in this nation's wars. And shortly after a prayer Christmas lights on trees filling the center island of in the Park Avenue for 50 blocks are illuminated. Toddlers perched on their parents shoulders, extended families and dozens of onlookers from apartment building windows all join in the singing and gaiety.
But as enjoyable as the tree lighting was, I found myself still laughing at the story Father Thomas Shelley told at mass earlier in the day. "An Irishman went into a bar and ordered three beers, at the same time. The bartender set them up and the man then moved from chair to chair taking a sip out of each glass. This had happened for several days when the bartender had to ask, 'I noticed you order three beers at one time, why?' The man answered, 'You see I recently moved here from Ireland and I have no friends. And I miss my two brothers, one who went to Canada and the other Australia. So I do this to be with them, if you know what I mean.' The bartender said he understood. But then a couple weeks later the man showed up and only ordered two beers. As the bartender set them up he said to the man, 'Oh, I am sorry for your loss.' But the man said, 'Oh no, I didn't lose anyone. No, I just gave beer up for Lent.'"
Of course, in the Catholic Church's calendar this is Advent, the time leading up to the birth of Jesus. Nonetheless, I'm sure Father Shelley wouldn't mind if you use this story come Lent.