Friday, December 30, 2016

Time for New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time once again to make some New Year’s resolutions. But this year, instead of making resolutions impossible to keep, I will make resolutions that are quite doable. The key is to make sure none of my resolutions have anything to do with dieting or exercise. So, for the year 2017…

I resolve to spend less time and effort being concerned about the lives of people I’ve never met — celebrities, athletes, politicians, fictional characters on television — and more time and effort being concerned about the lives of my family and friends.

I resolve to pray more and complain less.

I resolve to complain less while praying. (God will be happy to hear this one.)

I resolve to count my blessings at least once each day, and especially whenever I feel a “pity party” coming on.
I resolve to stay at the table during the entire dinner and not suddenly get up during the middle of the meal to go into the living room and check the score of a ballgame on TV — unless, of course, the game has important playoff implications.

I resolve to do Christmas differently in 2017 and not go out frantically on December 24th to begin my Christmas shopping, as I’ve done for the past 30 years in a row. Oh, who am I kidding? Waiting till the last minute has become as much a cherished holiday tradition as figgy pudding (whatever the heck that is).

I resolve to do Christmas differently in 2017 and stop trying to recapture a warm and pleasant childhood emotion about the holiday — an emotion that hasn’t occurred since age nine — and instead focus on creating a warm and pleasant emotion about the holiday for a wide-eyed nine-year-old in my community — an emotion he or she can nostalgically try to recapture many decades from now.

I resolve to be less obsessive about sports — unless the Red Sox, Giants, UConn, Notre Dame, Celtics, Phil Mickelson, Bucknell, Torrington High School, or Moe’s Tavern softball team are in contention to win a championship.

I resolve not to mention my wife or daughters in my column — as they’ve requested repeatedly — unless I can’t think of anything else to write about. (And I resolve not to end a sentence with a preposition.)

I resolve to tell my wife and daughters more often that I love them. (At the moment, I couldn’t think of anything else about which to write.)

I resolve to stop complaining about the weather around here — unless it’s too cold, too hot, too humid, too windy, too sunny, or too snowy.

I resolve to appreciate and enjoy the six days each year when the weather around here is not too anything, except too beautiful. (I believe the next one of these days is due to arrive about the third week of April.)

I resolve not to spend the first three months of the year wishing it were the fourth month of the year every time I have to use the snow blower.

I resolve to be grateful I have a snow blower that runs. (At least as of right now. Trust me, if it conks out in, say, February, you’ll be reading about it.)

I resolve to skip playing golf this year to see if I can somehow live without an activity that is five-percent enjoyable and 95-percent frustrating, time-consuming, and ridiculously expensive.

I resolve to spend at least as much time reading the Bible as I spend reading Sports Illustrated.

I resolve to call my kids more often.

I resolve to call my kids more often to tell them we’re driving to Rhode Island to see them in person, and we just pulled into their driveway. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

We Know the Church Will Win the War

World War II documentaries are fascinating. When the documentaries describe a bleak time during the war, say, the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor or the relentless bombing of London, your heart goes out for the people involved. At that time, they did not know how things ultimately would turn out. Maybe Imperial Japan would conquer the entire Pacific, including western portions of the United States. Maybe the Nazis would reduce London to rubble and invade Great Britain.

However, when watching these war documentaries today, we know how things turned out. We know the Allies eventually prevailed and democracy and freedom were victorious. It was a gruesome and costly affair, and there were countless casualties, but in the end the good guys won.

I’m reminded of this scenario when I hear people lament about the fate of the Catholic Church. Things are somewhat bleak these days, especially in the United States and Western Europe. Mass attendance is down; churches and schools are being closed; there is a severe priest shortage; and millions of people who were raised in the faith have drifted away and no longer believe the key doctrines of Christianity.

So, you can make the case we are in the middle of this dire time in history, and we have no idea how it will turn out. Maybe the forces of secularism will prevail and the Catholic Church will just fade away and someday cease to exist.

Well, here’s some good news: the Catholic Church is the only institution on earth that has been given a divine guarantee of success. Jesus Christ Himself promised that the Catholic Church would be victorious in the end. We read about right in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 16.

First, Jesus founded the Church, and He named Peter its initial earthly leader. He said, “You are Peter (which means “rock”), and upon this rock I will build my church.” A few moments later Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” That’s why St. Peter is often depicted as having a large set of keys. It’s not because he was the janitor.

There is a phrase in the middle of Jesus’ statement that we often overlook. After saying that Peter was the rock, but before giving him the key, Jesus said this about His Church: “…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Jesus proclaimed a divine promise that the Church would succeed. He declared the Church would be victorious in the battle against the forces of darkness. After all, Jesus is, and always has been, the one and only head of the Catholic Church. The popes are merely Jesus’ temporary servants on earth. Do you think He’d ever let His own Church die?

Unlike every other institution in the history of the world, the Catholic Church is guaranteed success. In the end, when the war is over, the good guys assuredly will win.

We can view the Catholic Church in the same way we view World War II documentaries. Yes, there are bleak moments during this struggle, and yes, there are many casualties—after all, whenever a precious soul walks away from the faith, Satan cackles with glee. But when the battle ends many ages from now, we can be assured the Church will be the victor. Jesus gave us that promise.

Unlike documentaries, we cannot sit in a comfy chair and just watch. We are soldiers in the midst of this particular battle. We have to sacrifice blood, sweat and tears. But as we fight, we already know the outcome: Jesus’ Church, the Catholic Church, will win.

Friday, December 23, 2016

BB Gun and Christmas Movie Fun

My family has a holiday tradition of spending the month of December watching Christmas movies. Well, we don’t spend the WHOLE month of December watching Christmas movies; we are forced, of course, to set aside a little bit of time during the month for sleeping and using the bathroom. (But I’m working on a plan to install a flat screen TV in the bathroom, which should free up enough time to allow us to squeeze in at least two more movies during the month.)
Anyway, our favorite Christmas movie by far is “A Christmas Story.” That is the actual name of the movie, but hardly anyone ever uses it. Most people refer to the film by other names, such as the “Ralphie and Randy” movie, or the “BB Gun” movie, or the “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” movie, or “Gone With the Wind.” (Some folks understandably confuse a Civil War drama set in Georgia in the early 1860s with a Christmas comedy set in northern Indiana in the early 1940s. A common mistake.)
If you’ve seen the movie, you already know it’s the nostalgic and hysterically funny story of young Ralphie’s desperate attempt to convince his parents and Santa Claus that an “official Red Ryder 200-shot range model air rifle” would make the perfect Christmas gift. But his mom, his school teacher, and even a department store Santa offer the dreaded anti-BB gun warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

In the meantime, his wacky dad wins a “major award,” a garishly lewd leg lamp, complete with fishnet stocking, which he proudly displays in the family’s picture window.

If you’ve never seen the movie, then everything I say here makes no sense. (Go ahead, say it: “Just like every other week, pal!”) On the other hand, this movie is on TV so often — one cable network actually shows the film each year continuously for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve — if you’ve never seen the movie, then you’ll have to tell me sometime what it’s like to live in an Amish community.

My family and I love this movie primarily because of author Jean Shepherd’s memorable dialog. We regularly quote lines from the movie to each other throughout the entire calendar year.

For example, if we’re at a big family picnic in the summer, and we overhear a relative say something obscene, my daughters and I will make eye contact, smirk for a moment, and then recite in unison, “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium. A master.”

Moments later, when we realize a hush has fallen over the entire picnic and dozens of relatives are staring at us, wondering what in the world we just said, there is only one thing to do. We recite in unison, “They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.”

Whenever anyone in my family unwraps a gift, whether the occasion is a birthday or Father’s Day, and whether the gift is a sweater or jewelry or a power tool, as soon as the wrapping paper is torn away, the person receiving the gift squeals in a high-pitched voice, “Wow! Whoopee! A zeppelin!”

And whenever anyone in my family is angry at another member of the family, the seriousness of the situation is diffused (take note psychologists) when someone wails, “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie!”

If you think this behavior is odd, you are being way too sensitive and “fra-GEE-lay” about wholesome family fun. And if you don’t like it, then I “double dog dare you” to stick your tongue to a frozen flag pole.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Season of Special Visitors

Christmas is just days away, so it’s time to prepare for those “visitors from the east.” No, I don’t mean the Magi, the mysterious visitors who “traversed afar” over “field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star” to pay homage to the child Jesus. (How often do you get to use the words traversed, moor, and yonder in the same sentence? Thank God for ancient carols and hymns, without which our modern day vocabulary would be reduced by now to nothing but grunts and screeches.)
The visitors who will be coming soon are the folks who attend Mass only on Christmas and Easter. Maybe they should be called “Chreasters”? (Pronounced “kree-sters,” rhymes with keisters.)

I conducted a scientific survey recently (which consisted of talking to a few people after church the other day, one of whom was myself), and I discovered that those of us who attend Mass on a regular basis often can be a bit resentful toward the twice-a-year Chreasters.

“Holy mackerel,” we grumble as we drive into the church parking lot. “There’re no more parking spaces! I’ll have to park on the street!”

Then, once we get inside the church, we mumble to ourselves, “Hey, who are those guys sitting there? That’s MY regular pew.”
For the rest of Mass, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with total strangers in an unfamiliar pew, we barely pay attention to the joyful liturgy. Instead of having our souls and spirits in tune with the Lord as we celebrate one of the two most momentous events in world history, the Incarnation or the Resurrection, we instead sit there with clenched teeth and bad attitudes.

Sometimes a similar attitude is present even in the sanctuary. Over the years I’ve heard priests and deacons remark, in far too sarcastic a tone of voice, “Well, I haven’t seen some of you since last [fill in the blank: Easter or Christmas]. You know, we do this every week!”
Hmm, I wonder if the subtle annoyance expressed by we regular church-goers might be part of the reason the Chreasters only go to Mass twice a year?

We know one thing for sure about the Chreasters: they haven’t given up completely on the idea that Jesus is important. Oh sure, maybe they’re at church on these special holidays because they were practically dragged there by their spouses or children. But plenty of people nowadays NEVER go to church—no matter how much their loved ones beg—because they have completely lost their faith.

The Chreasters still have a spark of faith smoldering somewhere deep inside. That’s a good thing! Jesus Himself said faith the size of a muster seed can move mountains.
Is it possible that the smoldering spark of faith inside some Chreasters gets extinguished when they get the cold-shoulder treatment at Christmas or Easter Mass? Are some of these twice-a-year Mass attendees about to become never-again Mass attendees because the devoted followers of Jesus seem to be just as indifferent and unfriendly as people out in the cold, cruel secular world?

Let’s try something different at Christmas Mass this year. When we see folks we’ve never seen before, instead of ignoring them or giving them an icy smile that clearly sends the message, “And just who are you?” let’s offer a big, welcoming smile and sincerely say, “I am so glad to see you here!”

They may be so startled by our hospitality, they’ll have to check twice to see if they accidentally drove to the wrong church. No matter how afar they traversed, we need to make them feel at home. Who knows? They might surprise us by coming back next week.

Friday, December 16, 2016

You’re Too Old for the Holidays When…

The holidays are here, and I’m reminded of the words of one of my favorite Old Testament prophets, Clint Eastwood, who said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Most of us are not as young as we used to be. (And if you know someone who IS younger than he used to be, please let me know, as I want the exclusive rights to his story.)
During the Christmas season, many people fondly remember the days of their youth but make the mistake of trying to re-live some of those magical moments. There are two primary situations where guys lose sight of just how old they are and commit a holiday faux pas (a French term that means “figgy pudding”).

The first situation is when you see Santa at the mall. You are definitely too old to sit on Santa’s lap if any of the following things occur:

A boy in line with you asks, “Are you Santa’s daddy?”

Santa says to you, “Whoa, your beard is TOTALLY white.”
Santa says, “No one ever asked for Poli-Grip before.”

The man dressed as Santa says, “Hello, sir. It’s me, David. Remember? I used to mow your lawn when I was in high school.”

The elf assisting Santa reminds you of an old Army buddy.

Santa says, “Sorry, I can’t put Viagra in your stocking without a prescription.”

You ask Santa to speak into your good ear.

Santa hands you a candy cane, and you instead ask for a Slim Jim.

You decline the offer to have your picture taken with Santa by saying, “I don’t photograph well,” and then prove it by pulling out your expired passport.

You read your Christmas list to Santa, after borrowing his reading glasses.
The first time you sat on his lap years ago, Santa’s hair was black and everyone called him “Kid.”

And finally, you know you’re too old to sit on Santa’s lap when you hop up onto Santa and hear both of his femurs snap.

* * *

The other situation occurs a week after Christmas on December 31st. You should not accept an invitation to a wild New Year’s Eve party if any of the following are true:

You’re usually in your jammies and slippers by the time Dennis House does the news.

Your idea of a wild night is having a few extra Fig Newtons during “Jeopardy.”

You’re usually snoring on the couch by the time “Wheel of Fortune” comes on.

You haven’t driven after dark since your 1974 Dodge Dart was new.

The last time you watched a New Year’s Eve show on TV, Dick Clark said, “And now introducing that new singing sensation: Chubby Checkers!”

The last time you stayed up all night drinking and dancing was during FDR’s second term in office.

You think BYOB means “Bring Your Own Ben-Gay.”

Midnight is closer to the time you usually wake up than the time you usually go to bed.

The last time you went to a party, you spent most of the evening asking people, “Have you seen my teeth?”

You’re not at all impressed with today’s singing stars. In fact, you’re pretty sure Guy Lombardo’s music was a little too “jazzy.”
You’re still a bit hung over from sampling the milk and cookies left out for Santa seven days earlier.

Your favorite party activity is discussing in graphic detail your recent gall bladder surgery and asking if anyone wants to see the scar. 

And finally, you should not accept an invitation to a wild New Year’s Eve party if you remember when the official New Year’s Eve song was “Young Lang Syne.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

God Reveals Himself Through the Incarnation

The late Charles Colson once wrote: “It’s true that most Americans profess to believe in God, but this God is a far cry from the God of Scripture. More than a century of naturalism has eroded our belief that God is providential—that is, in charge of all events.”
Mr. Colson had a point. Many people profess to be Christians, but they are actually Deists. They believe God created the universe and then left it on its own. After creating the world, God apparently went on vacation and left no forwarding address.

The philosophy of naturalism, as Colson pointed out, certainly is a major reason why people think this way. When science classes and PBS documentaries constantly preach the idea that the natural world is all there is, it doesn’t leave much room for God.

Those who can’t quite swallow the notion that mankind’s creator is nothing but random chance, often settle for a happy medium: they cling to the idea that God is real, but after hitting the start button billions of years ago, this distant and uncaring God turned over the day-to-day management duties to the Laws of Physics and blind fate.
There is another possibly more powerful reason why modern Christians have embraced deistic beliefs: guilt. Although secular thinking proclaims that mankind is basically good at heart, most people know better. We instinctively know the biblical doctrine is true: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Most of us realize our basic urges are selfish and sneaky, while at the same time a moral compass deep in our hearts tells us we ought to be charitable and honest. This internal conflict produces guilt.

The idea of an all-knowing, all-seeing God, who observes our every action and knows our every thought, doesn’t sit very well with all that internal guilt. As a result, it doesn’t take much prodding for a person to jump on the Deism bandwagon if it means God no longer sees or cares about our behavior.

As Colson pointed out, however, this view of God is not scriptural. The God described in the Bible is not uncaring and distant. He is present; He observes everything; and most of all, He CARES.
If God were truly distant and uncaring, He never would have bothered with the defining aspect of Christianity: the Incarnation. If God were on a cosmic vacation, He never would have lowered Himself to be born in a stinky old stable. He never would have preached for three years, only to be misunderstood and mocked. And He certainly never would have offered up His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

If Deism were true, we would not be celebrating Christmas in about two weeks. Instead, we would be celebrating the old pagan festival of Saturnalia, marked by a lengthy period of over-indulgence and drunken revelry. Oh wait. That’s exactly how most people celebrate Christmas nowadays—or as I like to call it, the Crassmas Season.
When it comes to faith, the first and foremost question is: Is God real? Thankfully, most people answer, “Yes.” But there is a second and equally important question: What is God LIKE? What is God’s nature and personality?

The answer is not an unknowable mystery, as Deism claims. God went to a lot of trouble to reveal Himself to mankind, culminating in the awesome miracle of the Incarnation. Then, to make sure everyone throughout history could know the truth, God inspired the Holy Scriptures to be written.
The God described in Scripture is the true God. He is providential. He is in charge of all events. (Which, by the way, is not the same as CAUSING all events. God is aware of and allows bad things to happen—part of the deal when He created us with free will.) 

If you want to know what God is like, pick up your Bible. It’s the best Christmas present you can give yourself.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Secret to Avoiding Christmas Stress

Well, it’s December and you’re starting to stress out, aren’t you? I can feel the stress coming right through your eyeballs as you read this.

The Christmas season, which officially began the day after Halloween, is now in high gear, and with it comes the inevitable stress of trying to cram ten pounds of Ho-ho-ho into a five-pound stocking. To paraphrase an Andy Williams holiday classic, “It’s the most STRE-ESS-FUL time … of the year!”
If you’re a person of faith, you have the added stress of trying to incorporate a little of the religious origins of this holy day into your holiday festivities. But things are so hectic, that seems to be practically impossible, doesn’t it?

Nowadays the Christmas season is kind of like being swept away by a raging flood. Every year we tell ourselves we’re not going to get caught up in all the holiday nonsense, but then the season comes rolling in and even though we try to hold our ground, we eventually lose our balance and get washed downstream in a foaming maelstrom of too much food, too much drink, too much shopping, too much decorating, too much cookie-baking, too much wrapping, too much ugly Christmas sweater-ing, and too much “Grandma got run over by a reindeer.” It’s just, well, too much.
The more hectic the Christmas season becomes, the less the “reason for the season” is present, both in our lives and in the culture. For example, in response to the threat of frivolous lawsuits a decade or so ago, school choruses stopped singing religious carols during the annual Christmas concert. But now they’re not even allowed to call it a Christmas concert; it’s a “winter” concert. And now they can’t even sing non-religious holiday songs, like Rudolph and Frosty, because apparently the lawyers for various atheist groups noticed that the nativity passages in Luke’s gospel are just teeming with red-nosed reindeer and talking snowmen.

The less the Lord is present in Christmas, I’ve observed, the more our culture fills the void with stress-inducing holiday season silliness.

When the Person whose birthday we celebrate on December 25th was stressed-out and exhausted, He went up to the hills for some peace and quiet and prayer. When we’re about to be swept away by a flood (either real or metaphorical), we too need to head for the hills. We need to make some time for peace and quiet and prayer.
Oh sure, easy to say, but how do we make time when there already isn’t enough time to do all the holiday things everyone expects? Ah ha! Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing is needed. (Recognize that line? Someone pretty important said it a long time ago.)

The key to finding some peaceful time, which will allow us to keep the first syllable of Christmas in Christmas, is to change the expectations. Make it clear to your friends and loved ones that you’re not playing the game this year. Tell them you are refusing to get swept away by the raging current of non-religious folderol that has become such a part of the modern, secular Christmas season.

Now, I’m not advising that you go all Scrooge on everybody. Go ahead and put up a tree, buy a few presents, eat some cookies, and play the Bing Crosby CD. But simply make it clear that faith and prayer are the most important aspects of this season. You just might be surprised at how many of your friends and loved ones want to join you on the quiet and prayerful high ground, away from the flood.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The ‘Curse’ of the Our Father

Did you know the “Our Father” prayer actually contains a curse? That’s right. People who pray this prayer are calling down a curse on themselves.
Wait. What? How can the most beloved prayer in the history of Christianity be a curse? Well, consider the phrase: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is a conditional statement. Every other part of the Our Father is either an expression of praise toward God or a straightforward request for God’s blessing.

But the “Forgive us our trespasses” line is more of a challenge or a proposal for God. We are saying, in effect, “Hey God, here’s the deal: you forgive me for the bad things I’ve done in the exact same way I forgive other people when they do bad things to me, OK?”
If we routinely show mercy toward others who sin against us, if we “forgive and forget” and do not harbor resentments and grudges, then we’re in good shape. God will forgive us with that same level of generous mercy.

However, if we’re in the habit of getting offended easily and holding grudges, and if we take delight in spreading nasty gossip about anyone who has ever done us wrong, then that is the exact same level of mercy and forgiveness God will show toward us—in other words, not much.

So if we’re the type of person who rarely forgives others and who holds grudges and carries resentments for many years, then by praying the “Our Father,” we are indeed calling down a curse onto ourselves. We are saying to God, “I don’t forgive others, and I don’t want you to forgive me either!”
Now, of course, no one actually thinks that when they pray the Our Father. Actually, when most people pray the Our Father, there’s no thinking involved at all. C’mon, admit it. You were forced to memorize the prayer as a child, and now many years later, whenever you say the prayer you just recite the words from memory without pondering what the words really mean. We all do it. And God doesn’t really mind too much, as long as once in a while we do contemplate the deep and profound meaning of the prayer.

Regardless of whether we recite the Our Father mindlessly or truly think about the words, I’m pretty sure few people are aware the prayer contains a potential curse. We ask God to forgive us, but only in the same way we forgive others. And to tell you the truth, that scares the heck out of me. You see, like most people, I suffer from “Disproportionate Slack Cutting.”

Ever hear the expression, “Hey, cut me some slack”? Of all the people in the world, who do we always cut some slack for? Ourselves! Whenever we screw up and hurt someone, we immediately have an excuse, an explanation, a rationalization of why we did what we did in this particular situation, but it of course doesn’t make us a bad person. In other words, we cut ourselves some slack. We forgive ourselves quickly and fully.
But whenever others screw up and hurt us, do we immediately cut them some slack? Unfortunately, most of the time we turn into aggressive prosecuting attorneys, and forcefully make the case of why they are guilty and deserve severe punishment. In other words, we don’t cut them any slack. We employ “Disproportionate Slack Cutting.” 

So, the next time you pray the Our Father, think about the “Forgive us our trespasses” line. Realize you are making a deal with God. Realize that if you don’t cut other people some slack, God will treat you the same way. And that definitely is a curse.

Friday, December 2, 2016

These Are the Good Ol’ Days

In October my daughter was married in Italy, in her husband’s hometown. They met in Providence while he attended Brown University. In early November we had a reception in Conn. for everyone who couldn’t make it to Europe. I was asked to say a few words and offer a toast. Here’s my speech:

A few years ago, my daughter Mackenzie came to me and said, “Dad, my new boyfriend is Italian.”

I said, “That’s great. As you know, we Dunns are in the habit of falling in love with people of Italian heritage. I think our goal is someday to have at least one person named Dunn who can actually get a sun tan.”

My daughter said to me, “No Dad, you don’t understand. Matteo is ITALIAN!”

I said, “Oh, I get it. Providence. Sure, the Italian-American community in Providence is very Italian, maybe more so than even New Haven.”
She said, “No Dad. Matteo is from Padua.”

I said, “Oh, I get it. Padua. That’s near Cranston, right? No, wait, is it near Warwick, by the airport?”

Well, anyway, last month we got the opportunity to find out exactly where Padua is, and it’s a beautiful city. And we got to meet Matteo’s family — such wonderful people!
On the morning of the wedding, as I was getting dressed in the hotel room, I suddenly started thinking about walking Mackenzie down the aisle. And I just started weeping.

Then I said to myself, “Oh no. I’m gonna break down and cry at the wedding and embarrass myself!”

Finally it was time. We got out of the limo and walked to the entrance. I held out my elbow and Mackenzie locked her arm in mine. The musicians started playing, and my lower lip started quivering. Then we took a step, and Mackenzie muttered out of the side of her mouth, “You’re stepping on my gown.” I muttered back, “I’m sorry.”
Then we took another step, and she said, “You stepped on it again.” I said, “I can’t help it. Your train takes up half an acre of floor space.”

During the entire journey down the aisle we spoke back and forth to each other out of the sides of our mouths: “You did it again.” “I’m sorry.” “Stop stepping on me.” “I can’t help it.”

The next thing we knew, we were at the front of the room. I handed her off to Matteo, and then took my seat. As I sat down, I suddenly thought to myself, “Hey, I didn’t cry! I was so distracted by stepping on her gown, I forget to get all emotional. Awesome!”

I’d like to offer a toast to the bride and groom. I’m reminded of the words of one of my favorite Old Testament prophets, Carly Simon. She said, “These are the good ol’ days.”
Just think about it: right here this afternoon, we are in the midst of an event that we will remember fondly years from now. We’ll look back and say, “Remember Mackenzie and Matteo’s reception in Mystic? Oh, that was a great time. Those we’re the good ol’ days.”

Please embrace that idea. We are creating a “good ol’ day” right here, right now.

To Mackenzie and Matteo: May God bless you always, and may we revel in this moment with them, because these truly are the good ol’ days.

*   *   *

Unfortunately, on the day of the reception, I came down with laryngitis. I was in complete Harpo Marx mode.
 So my other daughter, Maureen, recited my speech instead and did a great job. To make sure everyone knew she was playing the part of me, she wore a Red Sox hat. Thanks, kids. I love you. Salute!