It's not about the house.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nollaig Shona!*

So we're riding around, running errands and things, at just-after-dark o'clock on Christmas Eve. We pass St. Joseph's -- an oddly Spanish-looking Catholic church about a mile from our house -- and traffic grinds to a halt as people double-park and cross against the light on their way in to Mass.

"Look at all these Irish fuckers," Johnny says. "Trying to get out of going to church tomorrow by squeezing it in on Christmas Eve. Burn in hell, yiz bastards!"

Johnny is Catholic. But, mind, he hasn't been to church -- save for weddings and funerals -- since at least before we met (which was either 1995 or '96, depending on which one of us you ask).

He sighed.

"Back in Ireland, we used to go to Midnight Mass..."

"Every Catholic church has Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve," I said (because it was important to be all correcty at this clearly nostalgia-drenched moment). "That's not just in Ireland."

"Really?" Johnny said, perking up. "You think they have it at St. Joseph's?"

"I'm sure they do."

"You want to go?"


It was an instinctive response. The truth is, although I don't subscribe to the doctrine or anything, I actually would like to go to Midnight Mass. I never went when I was little, and my cousins always did, and I was always so freaking jealous. Plus, if there's one thing I do still love about the Catholic church (though the truth is that there are several) it is their sense of pomp and circumstance. SRO at the witching hour on Christmas Eve? That is, seriously, about as drama-queen as you can get outside the Tenderloin. But, alas, Johnny and I have pre-existing plans.

Not real plans. We don't have to be anywhere. But we've known for months how we plan to spend our evening.

"I mean," I said, trying to lessen the harshness of my knee-jerk refusal, "by the time midnight rolls around, we'll both be drunk."

"Ah, hell," says Johnny. "You're supposed to be drunk when you go to Midnight Mass!"

And then he laughed. Big, honking, donkey laughs. Hyeaw! Hyeaw! When he finally managed to pull himself together, he explained:

"The only difference [hyeaw!] is that, here, you'd have to leave the pub to get to church. Back home, they close the pub and boot you in the arse!"

Merry happy to all and to all a good midnight! May yiz not burn in everlasting Irish hell!

*(It means Happy Christmas. And it's pronounced null-ac shun. Which is, I have to say, the closest to normal pronunciation I've ever found of an Irish spelling.)


beardonaut said...

I wouldn't call the pronunciation (that might be spelled incorrectly, I'm a little drunk) exact, but then again, I have absolutely no experience with Irish outside what I've heard in a pub or two here in Stockholm.

Merry whatever you choose to call it. God jul, as the saying goes in Sweden, which is sort of Happy Yule, and really has nothing to do with Christmas as such.

ege said...

Well, if it looks wrong it's probably because I made up my own phonetic spelling. Or because there are different pronunciations depending on where you come from. Or, as Johnny says, because you're a stupid arse.

Happy St. Stephen's Day!

Audrey said...

Happy Christmas Erin!

12ontheinside said...

Hope you had a great one.