If nothing else the swine flu is sure creating memories for YaYa. It's the weekend of her First Communion (a mere 11 hours away now) and it's affected a score of things in Milwaukee. Knowing most kids, in twenty years time the only thing she'll remember about this weekend is that it coincided with the outbreak.
The most stunning example of its impact was at my niece's Communion Mass today. Before it began the Priest announced that, following 'suggestions' from the State and Archdiocese, the communal wine would not be offered at Mass. This was the First Communion day for dozens of kids, and they would not be receiving the wine.
Man, the shock hit my chest like a sledgehammer. I'm serious. Forgetting even the theological implications, its a massive blow to the protocol and tradition of the event. I can't come up with an equivalent example. A marriage ceremony where the exchange of rings is banned? An inauguration where the swearing-in is prohibited? A baseball game where the home team doesn't get a chance to win it in the ninth?
I'll give the Priest credit. He was a witty and charming man, and he denounced this all as paranoia. So he presented an option: the congregation wouldn't be offered the wine, but the kids receiving their First Communion would have the opportunity if the parents so chose. I don't know how many parent's vetoed it, but I'm thinking the number was zero.
Anyhow, I have no idea how YaYa's church will handle it tomorrow. We'll have to see.
* there are some nice pics from today and I'll *try* to post them at a later date*
After Mass we ditched three of the kids and took YaYa out alone to finish off some last minute Communion details. We also had some fun. We went to a rummage sale at a Methodist Church, where a lady presented YaYa with a free cross necklace in honor of her upcoming event (and I picked up a copy of Robert Penn Warren's Remember the Alamo! for less than a quarter). We also hit an estate sale, got myself a haircut, stopped at Half Price Books, and went out to eat, at YaYa's choice, at Carrabas Italian Restaurant (not a great meal for the $; we won't be going back.)
I did ask her at the bookstore if her love of books was genuine or just a means of identifying with me. She looked at me like I was crazy and pleaded with me to buy her a chapter book.
She thrives when she has alone time with us and it was a blast.
Anyhow, time for bed. Some more swine flu notes for posterity:
* Today the number of cases here has jumped from five on Friday to twenty-seven(probable) cases.
* A handful of public schools have closed, but MPS is warning all parents to make alternate arrangements for Monday. The rumor is all public schools will be closed until further notice, and the Catholic versions will follow suit.
* Some of the south-side Catholic schools with overwhelmingly Hispanic student bodies, including my old elementary school, have shut their doors.
* On Thursday night LuLu and YaYa's school was completely disinfected and sprayed down, whatever that means.
* At work a manager wasted an entire day disinfecting our computers and keyboards. This is a pointless task, given we're always mixing with the public and would have no real hope of avoiding it if it strolled through the door.
* I cleared my throat at work and a customer backed away saying "Are you sure you're not ill?". I think she was joking.
* A local store has a sign on their door saying "Avoid the swine flu - buy hand sanitizers here!"