15 December 2017

For Acculturated: Can Santa Claus Survive...

This holiday season, I am working at Macy's Dickens Village in Philadelphia as a Santa Photographer. Visiting Santa was never part of my family's Christmas tradition, so I've been fascinated to see how many people of all ages come to see Santa as an annual event. The wish lists I've heard range from teddy bears to computers, but definitely are heavy on the technology end, which led me to wonder, where does Santa fit in our hi-tech society today? Read my latest for Acculturated.

06 December 2017

I'm Dreaming of an Untraditional Christmas

I am a keeper of tradition. Maybe it's because I'm Catholic - tradition is sort of our claim to fame; or maybe it's because of my family. My brother cried - cried - when my Dad changed his glasses frames. I am a creature of routine generally, but there is a special spark to tradition, to the notion of annual, shared routines that we anticipate all year long. There are food traditions: shrimp harpin for Christmas Eve; peaches and cream pie or coconut cake for my birthday; lamb stew for my grandmother's birthday. There are activity traditions: finding Easter baskets; opening presents youngest to oldest; dressing in costumes for 4th of July.  Oh, and my favorite tradition - fighting about what is tradition: do we eat turkey, ham, and/or beef on Christmas; what holiday deserves bing cherry salad; do we celebrate Wigilia or not?

Yet, despite my love of routine, tradition is starting to lose its luster for me. Perhaps it is because with siblings married and cousins moved away, tradition hasn't really been the same the last few years. Or perhaps the foodie in me is just sick and tired of having a menu with few surprises and high tension. Or perhaps the single woman in me is dreading the conversations about my love life (pssh, who am I kidding, I love those conversations.) Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to report this year I am breaking the mold and celebrating Christmas free from tradition! Or am I?

27 November 2017

Time to be a Sheep

Image result for separation of sheep and goatsIt's that time of year again; the time I get particularly reflective. Yep, the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of another. This past Sunday, Catholics celebrated the Feast of Christ, King of the Universe, sending out another Church year with resounding praise. Although many people stuck to their usual Thanksgiving weekend traditions, already decking their homes with Christmas trees and garland, we actually haven't even hit Advent yet. I wonder whether those poor trees will last through the *real* Christmas season, but more than that, I wonder if those people gave themselves the mental time and space to reflect on this past year and prepare for the oncoming one. Abiding by the flow of liturgical seasons can bear many fruits, if we give ourselves the time to pause and listen. For example, realizing I might be a goat and not a sheep on Judgment Day. 

13 November 2017

Reflections on the Road: Coal Towns

Image result for shamokin paI drove over 246 miles on Saturday to attend a funeral. I-76, I-476, I-78, Rt. 901, Rt. 61, Rt. 54., Rt. 487, back and forth, winding through mountains with just enough color on them to still be beautiful.  - - Well, mountains are always beautiful, but you know what I mean. - - I traveled to this destination often as a child, nauseated by the twisting elevation. I remember once pulling off into the Ace Hardware parking lot, just in time to vomit into an empty orange juice bottle in the car. Now, in the driver's seat, I managed to keep nausea at bay. Coming from Philadelphia, my journey up through Pennsylvania was entirely different than the one from my Maryland childhood, but the destination was still the same: my Dad's hometown.

03 November 2017

For Acculturated: Does Television Finally Understand Catholic Culture?

As I have grown older and wiser (?), I have realized not everyone who identifies as Catholic lives their life the same way I do. I confess that I struggle to understand how they can identify this way but not live by the rules the Church establishes, but the truth of the matter is, Catholicism is almost just as powerful a cultural force as a religious force, similar to Judaism. Heritage and tradition and expectation play an enormous part in people's lives, from big decisions like baptizing their children, to little things like saying the Hail Mary. Unexpectedly, television has lately given valuable insight into how a growing number of Catholics reconcile their faith and culture. Check out my latest article for Acculturated to think about this more.

30 October 2017

The Experiment Continues

I'm ready at last. I am ready to read Moby Dick. If you recall my article for Acculturated, I have put off approaching this tome since high school, after my teacher told me "don't read Moby Dick until you are ready to read Moby Dick." When a spot opened up in a reading group at The Rosenbach, I said yes. Yes, I am ready. Yes, this is the time. I will be reading the novel until February, meeting once a month to discuss its chapters. I am forty-four chapters deep, and I don't regret the sudden decision, the leap of investment. The open spot was just the push I needed to commit to Melville, and recommit to myself as a writer.

27 October 2017

For Acculturated: Advice from the Transcendentalists...

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite writers. I try to emulate him most when I write, though who knows if that at all comes across. Lately, I have heard many people say they never read him, nor learned about him in school, which shocked me. He was the absolute heart of American literature in my high school and college education! How could one discuss American authors and not touch on him? Sadly, people think they are far removed from the Transcendentalist philosophy that shaped the nation, but here's the thing - they are not. Especially in the autumn season, our love of nature and Transcendental roots come pouring out. Don't laugh at millennials for going to pumpkin patches; we all need to experience nature, as my latest article for Acculturated discusses. Embrace your nature yearnings, and nurture them often. Now go read some Emerson!