There is still some snow on the ground but the sun is shining and it’s Friday. As Angelo was getting ready for school this morning, he hollered out, “Wait! It’s Friday, isn’t it?” I confirmed the day and date.
“Yes!” Angelo shouted. “High knees!”
“High knees” is something our family says when we’re stoked about something. Angelo’s moment of glee reminded me of the phrase, “Thank God it’s Friday.”
I went to Catholic school for 12 years and we were taught to never be silly when thanking God. So when “Thank God it’s Friday” started to wend its way into common conversation, Sister Vera Marie sat us 7th Graders down and gave us a stern lecture about being grateful for every day of the week, not just Friday.
I liked Sister. She loved poetry and was wonderfully precise with language. But she was over-the-top strict, had to have everything just so, and didn’t like distractions from her everyday routine. Distractions like “Hot Dog Day.”
A couple times a year, for 75 cents, you could pre-order a hot dog, a bag of Lays potato chips and a carton of 2% milk. On the big day, someone’s mom would carry an enormous box of hot dogs up the stairs and down the hallway. The box was so big it concealed the mom’s identity. All we’d see is a big box and legs enter the classroom and then Sister would shoo her away. The room filled up with the scent of boiled hot dogs and soggy buns and we were giddy with anticipation.
“Contain yourselves,” Sister would say, fully irked. “Sit still while I organize.”
She treated hot dog distribution as if it were some overly-complex bureaucratic procedure. She checked to make sure everyone had paid in full, that there were exactly as many hot dogs as ordered and that everyone was in a proper state of mind to receive their dogs. Then she called out our names in alphabetical order. We would walk up, one by one, retrieve our lunch and return to our seats where we were to “sit squarely” until everyone had been served. I’m sure we prayed, but I don’t remember it. All I remember is how fun it was when we could finally eat.
Hot Dog Day was the best. I remember one kid exclaimed, “Hot dog!” when he pulled his hot dog out of the bag. And then he repeated it with great emphasis.
He was practically saying, “Hot damn!” and getting away with it because that was the beauty of Hot Dog Day.
Another kid said, “I could eat two!” I felt the same way and looked over at another kid who was tilting his head back and was pouring the crumbs from his little bag of potato chips into his mouth. We were having so much fun! And that’s when I saw Sister. She stared at us in disgust and scolded us.
“Imagine if you loved God as much as you loved Hot Dog Day.”
Then came the lecture on the Seven Deadly Sins with particular emphasis on “gluttony.”
To Sister, celebrating “Hot Dog Day” was the same as celebrating sin. And saying “Thank God it’s Friday” was disrespectful to the glory of God. I could see her point, but jeez, what a buzz kill, right?
The kids returned to school this week after their spring break. Every day I am shocked (in positive and negative ways) by the stories they tell me about “what happened at school.” It’s going fine, but after reports of lockdowns, gun recoveries and bullying, I am ready for Friday. And when it finally arrives, I silently think, “Thank God it’s Friday” and mean it.