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Remembering Palm Sundays of Yesteryear

Posted on Saturday, April 9, 2022
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by AMAC Newsline
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20 Comments
palm-sunday

AMAC Exclusive – By: The Gallic

In addition to Christmas and Easter, Palm Sunday stands out as one of those holy days that always evokes memories of years past. One Palm Sunday in particular from my youth stands out as emblematic of a bygone era, a moment in time that seemed to capture an entire generation.

I remember the hustle and bustle of that morning, as my father – who was never late – rushed to pack my large Catholic family (at the time 6 boys and 2 girls) into the family station wagon. It didn’t start, but it was time to leave for mass, and we rushed over to our ’73 light blue Beetle which sagged under the weight of our pile of bodies.

Fortunately, there were no car seat rules in 1976, and no seat belt laws either. We were still little back then, so we made do sitting on laps, sometimes three deep, and then in the little area behind the back seat.

Much to my father’s chagrin, he soon found after so carefully packing his children in that the Beetle wouldn’t start either. Not to be dismayed, we got out, the older ones and dad turned the car around, and then we all crammed back inside. We then coasted down the hill, dad popped the clutch, and off we went. When we arrived (on time, mind you) we piled out, surely appearing to any onlooker as the most pious clown car they’d ever seen. We slicked back our hair, or more likely did not care, and followed my parents into church.  

The world was different back then. It smelled differently, was much quieter, and nearly everyone smoked. We wore polyester, (which for young boys explains some of the smell) things were groovy, and there was a lot of hair. Fresh fruit in the winter was harder to come by, but the milk and bread tasted fresher. Mr. Mondelli would come by with his truck overflowing with day-old vegetables which the mothers in the neighborhood would haggle for. We knew our neighbors and said hi when we saw them outside as we played basketball, rode our bikes, or took our sleds down the very steep hill we lived on.

In the northern New Jersey town of my childhood, it seemed like everyone had a strong sense of faith. In my little town, everyone seemed to give something up for Lent, even the Jewish kids I knew – although they could never figure out why. The Irish priests in my parish, having to handle the change from the solemn Latin mass of just a few years ago to a vernacular one called the Novus Ordo, managed to keep the parish happy, and as we waved the Palms, the knowledge we had something to play with during mass filled our little hearts with fervor. This Sunday we all got speaking parts and with gusto intoned “Crucify Him!” Big stuff for us little guys, especially when we learned to read.

We didn’t have portable electronics, so we could not miss them. The real world was just too much fun. Palm Sunday meant the pond would be melted enough for us to fish, bugs still hadn’t come out in full force yet, and spring was in full swing, soon followed by summer. Baseball gloves were pulled out of the bin, as were the basketballs. The unhurried rhythm of life continued on, and we blissfully went along with it.

There was the occasional change to our Palm Sunday ritual as the years passed. For instance, one year we did not go to our normal parish but went to an open-air amphitheater made of rocks. The procession started, and the priest came in riding on a donkey. I do not recall much of that mass, but I have never forgotten the beast of burden. Funny thing, even in the open air we dressed our best (not our Easter Sunday best mind you) with shirts and ties for all the boys and pretty dresses for the girls. I will always remember my father wearing his blue suit and my mother in her beautiful dress. As a boy, I do not think I ever saw anyone as beautiful as my mom.

The freedom of those days was magical. We would play outside as long as the weather allowed before coming in to watch one of three channels (on the off chance the TV would work at all) or listen to the radio, or play a game, read a book, or even do a puzzle. Palm Sunday was a serious time for all of that, with only seven days to go until Easter and Holy Week just beginning. 

My family is grown now, and we all have lives of our own. Our kids are growing up quickly, the days when they were young are rapidly fading into the past. Palm Sunday comes each year to remind us that while time flies, faith remains. 

During those Holy Weeks of yesteryear, the house was quieter, food plainer, and fooling around was frowned upon. But as a preacher once told us, “He might be in the tomb on Friday, but Sunday’s a-coming.”

Things today differ greatly from my childhood, but that timeless hope of the Risen Christ on Easter morning remains: ‘Sunday is a-coming.’ So, as we remember Palm Sundays gone by, let us also endeavor to bring the same joyful hope of our youth to someone in our lives today, that they may know the love of God, and of family.

The Gallic is the pen name of an educator with over 30 years of experience, who spends his time helping schools get better at teaching their students and parents happier at sending them to those schools. 

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Sandy
Sandy
2 years ago

I truly loved this article and the ending cement that follows. Truly magical times.

Phil
Phil
2 years ago

Beautiful in times like these these beautiful moments remind us of the love of God and what he has done for us all God looks into our hearts May we dwell with Him eternally

Cathy
Cathy
2 years ago

Sweet memories of days gone by. I’m a little older than the author. We were not allowed out of our yard. We could read or play quietly in our rooms and naps were encouraged. Still we were fascinated with our palm fronds and treasured them. Wish others of today knew the sweet love of Jesus and that triumphal entry!

Captain Mike
Captain Mike
2 years ago

Excellent narrative that hits home! Thanks…

Spitfire?1940
Spitfire?1940
2 years ago

Gallic,Garlic, dear sir ,your beautiful article reminds me of the old “Readers digest” articles of long ago.When the RD was worth reading.Well done and God bless. ……

Lisa skinner
Lisa skinner
2 years ago

Simpler days. I remember the scratchy dresses and bonnet and patent leather shoes I had to wear and was never more uncomfortable lol

Mr Fast
Mr Fast
2 years ago

Nailed it, pretty much how my family grew up, and I try my best to keep the tradition alive.

Maria Hernandez
Maria Hernandez
2 years ago

Much simpler times back then. But good times. People actually took the time to get dressed for mass. Not like nowadays where people don’t have any respect for God. They act as if they are going to the mall.
In my parish the priest could not get us out of there fast enough. So sad. Looking forward for Easter Sunday. Because he will rise up, he promised.

Laurie D Morris
Laurie D Morris
2 years ago

Wonderful! You’re description of Holy Week events in the 1970’s transcended me back to my childhood where faith, family, and simplicity once were. Today, we are the ones responsible for “the sharing of our past stories” to our grandchildren! You are correct. Times change, but religion always
stays the same!!!
Laurie w

Hatdy Man
Hatdy Man
2 years ago

Such a funny and nostalgic story I can definitely relate to. Think we all long for the simpler times painted in this article!

Sandy
Sandy
2 years ago

I truly loved this article and the ending cement that follows. Truly magical times.

Phil
Phil
2 years ago

Beautiful in times like these these beautiful moments remind us of the love of God and what he has done for us all God looks into our hearts May we dwell with Him eternally

Cathy
Cathy
2 years ago

Sweet memories of days gone by. I’m a little older than the author. We were not allowed out of our yard. We could read or play quietly in our rooms and naps were encouraged. Still we were fascinated with our palm fronds and treasured them. Wish others of today knew the sweet love of Jesus and that triumphal entry!

Captain Mike
Captain Mike
2 years ago

Excellent narrative that hits home! Thanks…

Spitfire?1940
Spitfire?1940
2 years ago

Gallic,Garlic, dear sir ,your beautiful article reminds me of the old “Readers digest” articles of long ago.When the RD was worth reading.Well done and God bless. ……

Lisa skinner
Lisa skinner
2 years ago

Simpler days. I remember the scratchy dresses and bonnet and patent leather shoes I had to wear and was never more uncomfortable lol

Mr Fast
Mr Fast
2 years ago

Nailed it, pretty much how my family grew up, and I try my best to keep the tradition alive.

Maria Hernandez
Maria Hernandez
2 years ago

Much simpler times back then. But good times. People actually took the time to get dressed for mass. Not like nowadays where people don’t have any respect for God. They act as if they are going to the mall.
In my parish the priest could not get us out of there fast enough. So sad. Looking forward for Easter Sunday. Because he will rise up, he promised.

Laurie D Morris
Laurie D Morris
2 years ago

Wonderful! You’re description of Holy Week events in the 1970’s transcended me back to my childhood where faith, family, and simplicity once were. Today, we are the ones responsible for “the sharing of our past stories” to our grandchildren! You are correct. Times change, but religion always
stays the same!!!
Laurie w

Hatdy Man
Hatdy Man
2 years ago

Such a funny and nostalgic story I can definitely relate to. Think we all long for the simpler times painted in this article!

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
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