Mom who is 84 got on a train and came down. She was very impressed with the care and concern the conductors on the Amtrack gave her. Every moment with her is a gift.Greg and Kelley were very busy until the last moment with the detail of Christmas... I mean to the very last moment. They gave me one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received a Margarita Maker.... It makes great smoothies too.I got lots of text messages on Christmas Eve. It was very touching that people remembered me. We had Christmas Mass around the dining room table as we have done for years.(One of the blessings of being a Campus Minister.) I went on one of my "mystery rides with Sarah, Mom and Kristen and then on another one with Kristen, Matt and Andrew. My time with them was wonderful. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Sarah is a very caring little girl, and the older ones have grown up so much they really are fun to be with. Matt, Andrew and I went to see Valkyrie a man's movie. Kristen saw Seven Pounds. A little supper in Applebee's finished off a wonderful night. That was Christmas with my family.The next day I went up to see some friars and friends in Connecticut. Thanks to Ryan and Sheila and Carrie we had a nice get together at Ryan's house. I'm sad that I didn't get everyone's picture, some of you ran out before I could get to my calendar.
The next day I traveled to see Stephanie and John rich and their beautiful little girl in Sherman Connecticut. John and Stephanie were radiant parents with their new born baby. I spent the afternoon with Carrie Greg and the BOYS ! Greg and Carrie are also such wonderful parents. I'm sorry I didn't get to see everyone but I promise to be back as soon as I can.It was also good to see the friars in Connecticut. The friars in Kensington work very hard. When I stopped to pick up some food for our gathering a lady behind the counter noticed I was a priest and told me how much she loved her parish. It turned out to be St. Paul's our parish. Fr. Raymond in Cromwell was very hospitable. He and the friars who have been stationed there have done so much good work. When we took that place over it was like a spiritual Gobi Desert. So much has changed there.
On my way back down to DC the next day the driving got a little dicey because of a fast moving snow storm. They closed Route 84 about ½ hour after I went past it. When I drive around New York I always listen to 880 because they have traffic and weather on the sevens. This Buffalo Boy would not be deterred by a "little" snow. I took my driver's test on a day when there were whiteouts in Buffalo.
Here are some really important rules for driving in snow…My last stop on my way home was at the Peragallo home in Patterson New Jersey. Johnny IV is a good friend of mine and his family's business builds pipe organs. I had a wonderful brunch with Johnny's family at their home. Then we went to the shop where they design and create their pipe organs. Johnny's Dad, John III, designs how they will sound, and Johnny's uncle designs how they will fit into the architecture of the Church or how they will look.
- Go Slow… Be Patient
- Keep a LOT of distance between you and the car ahead of you
- Never JAM ON the breaks.. light taps need to the be the order of the day. Remember it will take you a lot longer to stop so be prepared.
- Cross lanes very slowly when there is accumulated snow.
- Watch out for the people who aren't doing the above and avoid them.
Last year and this year Johnny texted me at Midnight on Christmas Eve. He was at St. Patrick's Cathedral inside the Organ just in case something goes wrong. The family business has the maintenance contract on that pipe organ and they are always there in case something goes bad.
The Peragallos and the people they work with are really artisans. I was so impressed when I walked into their shop. I think they have created over 650 pipe organs. They have pictures of a lot of the instruments on the walls of the simple shop. I bet some of the tools and clamps are still hung in the same place that Johnny's great grandfather hung them.
As I walked around I asked lots of questions. I just wanted to soak it in. It was so clear to me how the art has been passed on from generation to generation and equally clear how each generation has a gift to offer. Johnny's Dad, John III, is an electrical engineer and he is the one who revamped the electronics which run their instruments. Now every stop setting and key push are digitalized and sent from the console computer to another one in the organ chamber. I know Johnny IV will have a lot to offer with his architectural skills. As you can tell I was really impressed with what I saw.