Summer time approaches again, and Catholic parents across America face the inevitable vacation-by-car. Some parents love this time-honored tradition. Some are forced into it by the natural aversion to TSA sexual assault of themselves and their children. Some are forced into it by a simple mathematical calculation:
if x = one [un]reasonable airfare
and y = number of children
then z = are you kidding me?
Whatever the cause, Catholic families will pile into their mini/maxi-vans and killer SUVs and hit the roads.
When it comes to wiling away the long hours of driving, you should know this: I have a deep disgust with the DVD entertainment system with which many of these vehicles are equipped. I mean, is it so difficult or unpleasant to actually talk to our children that we have to shove a telescreen in front of their faces while driving? If we can't handle interacting with our children for whatever time we spend in the car, then the terrorists have already won.
That being said, during the long drive, common activities can actually bring the family together. After the family rosary, the first restroom break, the first are-we-there-yet-?, and the first threat to pull-this-car-over-right-now-!, Mom and Dad search for fun things to do.
In my youth, we had travel bingo, or auto bingo. You know, find a speed limit sign, a cow, a railroad crossing, etc. Bingo is Catholic enough, I guess, but what about a truly Catholic bingo game? Worry no more. You can center a fun bingo game around the summer vacation search for Mass at far away, unknown parishes.
For the Catholic devoted to the Extraordinary Form (they used to call this "Mass"), you can try to spell B-I-N-G-O by the places to which you have to drive out of the way in order to find the Extraordinary Form. To be fair, this is somewhat less difficult since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum.
Formerly, you could create a Bingo game around the type of space where the Mass was celebrated, for example: "B"asement, "I"ndian Reservation, "N"ursing Home, "G"arage, and "O"utside (as in outside a locked-to-trads Shrine). Now you can mix it up by using city or town names. Fun for all.
For the Ordinary Form attendee, an amusing variant of Bingo can be built around identifying liturgical novelties and/or bizarre Church architecture. Mix it up a little. Make it a points-based game.
Consider these examples: "B"aptismal font: award three points for a traditional font, 5 points for a big-enough-to-rehab-a-pulled-hamstring tub, and 10 points for a true Olympic-sized beauty. Bonus points for waterfalls.
"I"ntroduction: 3 points if the priest just starts out with the Sign of the Cross and no ad libbing; 5 points for the intro-mini-homily to tell you "just what this Mass is all about"; and 10 points for the full-on invitation to shake hands with everyone around you and exchange email addresses.
"N"ave: 3 points for one that looks like a Catholic Church; 5 points for a gymnasium style devoid of art; and 10 points for a U.N. General Assembly style hall. Bonus points for a church in the round.
"G"als: 3 points if there are none in the sanctuary; 5 points if there are altar girls, lectresses or EMHCs; 10 points for all of the above; and 100 points for a realistic stealth priestess with kung-fu grip.
"O"ur Father: 3 points if the congregation plays it straight; 5 points if a majority hold hands; 10 points if they do the "super-orans" at the protestant postscript.
These are just a few variants. Have fun, be creative. The possibilities are endless.
Have a great Summer vacation, everyone!