December 26, 2014 |
The handsome woolen topcoat my father wore to Mass on Christmas was gray - his favorite color - and flecked with tiny white threads. They look like snow in some of the photos my younger siblings and I inherited from our mother, the archivist and curator of 39 Burnham St. Thanks to Mom's meticulous scrapbooks and photo albums, I have the opportunity, in this second holiday season without her, to revisit Christmases past. Three months old in the blurry image of my first Dec. 25, I'm cradled by two young parents who lost their first baby and gaze at their second with a love I still can feel.
December 25, 2014 |
The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul expects more than 3,000 people for seven Masses this week. That means 3,000 Eucharist hosts, 100 poinsettias, dozens of freshly pressed altar linens, and hundreds of hours of staff and volunteer work. "We started planning last Christmas," said the Rev. Gerald Dennis Gill, the parish rector, who manages daily operations. "This cathedral parish belongs to everybody, and we're invested in preparing it for Christmas. " The cathedral - the largest Catholic church in Pennsylvania - welcomes more people Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than any other holiday on its calendar.
December 25, 2014 |
A former Marine, Matt Broughton was aware of the irony when he was arrested, for the first time in his life, on Veterans Day. But, with bail set at $200,000, and the prospect of missing Christmas with his daughters, ages 5 and 2, looming, he didn't have time to dwell on it. "I missed Thanksgiving, but I was really wanting to get out for the rest of the holidays," said Broughton, 25, of Warminster, who was charged with burglary. He did a tour in Iraq in 2009-10 and still grapples with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
December 21, 2014 |
MUNICH, Germany - Christmas in America has gradually become a season dominated by unbridled commercialism and media overload. But Jesus is the reason for the season, and St. Nicholas was a real person - a bishop, later a saint, who was known for secret gift-giving. For a different experience of this magical time, head to Bavaria in southeastern Germany, nestled against the Alps. Here, Christmas is a monthlong celebration of Advent, the period of the four Sundays preceding Dec. 24. Households prepare for the first day of Advent by baking mounds of delicious cookies.
December 21, 2014 |
Fevered claims of a "war on Christmas" have issued regularly in recent years from tribunes on the right - Fox News and Sarah Palin prominent among them. They summon a shared (Christian) tradition, a land before greetings of "Happy Holidays" and disinvitations of Nativity scenes from the public square. Christmas, however, was hardly settled turf in early Pennsylvania. Don Yoder, 93, has written extensively on the subject, including the introduction to Alfred Shoemaker's seminal Christmas in Pennsylvania , first published in 1959 (and still in print.)
December 20, 2014 |
The season twinkles with tradition, but secular celebrations also light up cold, dark December nights. Put the gift-wrapping on hold for a night or two: This extended holiday weekend is meant for weirdness. A Night for Jack: Remembering Jack Rose. Though not holy in the conventional sense, a wintry night recalling Philadelphia's pastoral/primitive guitar great Jack Rose is a religious, heartwarming, soul-stirring experience. On the fifth anniversary of his death, guitarists Daniel Bachman and Chris Forsyth, among others (including DJ/friend Ian Nagoski)
December 16, 2014 |
They were packed "like cattle" into a rusty former passenger liner on that Christmas Eve in 1944. More than 2,000 American soldiers left Southampton, England, for Cherbourg, France, where they were to be deployed against the surging German army during what came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. "We were singing Christmas carols" as the SS Leopoldville crossed the rough English Channel, said Charles Titone, an Army private in Company K, 262th Regiment of the 66th Division.
November 19, 2014 |
A short list of things people found funny in the 1990s: Beavis and Butthead , Dumb and Dumber , movies starring Tom Green. The common theme: crudity and portrayals of the mentally challenged as comedic material. Playwright Tom Dudzick wrote and set his play Greetings! in 1990, and after almost 25 years it has aged similarly badly. But probably not in the way you think. And especially not in Tom Quinn's sharp production at Montgomery Theater. Dudzick's play takes place in the blue-collar Gorski household on Christmas Eve. Retirees Phil (Paul Nolan)
October 14, 2014 |
PRINCETON - Two different Apollos - the mythical god of light and sky and the series of modern, moon-bound spacecraft - rubbed shoulders, bumped heads, and somehow melded in Kile Smith's dauntingly high-concept new choral work, The Consolation of Apollo , premiered this weekend by the Crossing choir. Heard Saturday at the Institute for Advanced Study (and repeated Sunday in Philadelphia), the piece alternates between texts by the sixth-century philosopher Boethius contemplating the nature of the universe from a down-here-on-Earth perspective, and transcripts of what the Apollo 8 astronauts said while taking in the awe-inspiring views of Earth from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968.
May 11, 2014 |
LAMAR RAYSON, who has lived in federal prison since 2007, wasn't going anywhere for decades. But yesterday, he learned that he's likely to die behind bars. Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Alice Dubow sentenced him to 37 1/2 to 75 years in state prison for a 2004 Christmas Eve home-invasion robbery and rape in Wissinoming, Pa. Rayson, 29, will begin serving that sentence after he completes a 32-year sentence in federal prison that he received for his role in five armed robberies of city businesses in 2005, and a 2006 armed carjacking in Germantown.