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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 19 No. 76
Thursday December 24, 2020

     Every year around this time, I struggle to find new words to offer to our loyal FlyingTypers’ readers. I am not immune to the warm responses inspired by our annual Christmas story, and I would be posturing if I said it doesn’t feel good to know it is so well received. However, the pressure mounts to say something new; to not rehash the things you already know; to provide some meaningful insight into our holiday gathering.
     You know we are a family business in an age when most companies yearn to proclaim that simply for the feel-good cachet it affords them. People love a good legacy story. We just celebrated our 45th anniversary and no, you can’t put a price on that. In a world where everything has been commodified, you still can’t buy time or experience.
     My father, mother, and I—sprinkled with some help from my siblings—run the gamut of responsibilities to keep Air Cargo News FlyingTypers current, interesting, successful, and engaging, and we do it every hour of the day, every day of the week, 365 days a year. This is not an exaggeration. I return home for holidays and it has become routine to ‘take a meeting’ in the living room with my father, whether it’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner or post-New Year’s Day celebrations. We have a drink and warm by the fire, and I have the bonus of petting a very sweet dog when these conversations occur, but we are still working. Time off isn’t just a luxury—it’s a frivolity. You don’t become an industry leader lying on the beach.
     This year of the Pandemic, I shook my brain like a snow globe to see what new holiday tradition might flutter to life and reveal itself as an interesting share.
     So here for a few moments we suspend disbelief as the story unfolds.
     Our readers this past twenty years that we have been sending this Christmas message might recall tales of our Santa-decorating tradition; the pancakes; the sausage; the presents; the tree; the movies; the pizza parties. What can I tell you that you don’t already know? For as cloistered as our family holidays can be—immediate family only—we routinely open our proverbial doors to the FlyingTypers community. So what haven't you heard?
     My father talks about air cargo a lot. He is the most dedicated, hard working person I know in the air cargo business aside from my mother. If he isn’t talking about air cargo, he’s talking about music, or aviation in general. But air cargo and its people are always at the forefront of his mind. The air cargo community is his great concern. And as anyone who has sat down with him for an interview well knows, once you get him started it’s best to just get out of his way and let him go. You learn more that way.
     I am not an aviation historian, and my knowledge of air cargo barely breaks the surface of what my father knows. It can be difficult, then, to engage in the conversations he finds most comfortable. And here is where I tell you something about our Christmas that you do not know, and have not heard.
     Every year for the past several years, I have accompanied my parents to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Forest Hills, Queens. I’m not remotely religious, but as an introvert I enjoy the quiet, solemn atmosphere of the church, where the common greeting is a subtle head nod and a slow blink. I don’t particularly follow the services, either—I am, admittedly, there for the choir songs, the music, the ceremony, and the feeling of the environment, and I have a sneaking suspicion my father is there for the same reason.
     Built in the 13th century English Gothic style, St. Luke’s has a high, vaulted ceiling with wood beams that bend and bow inward, like the hull of a ship flipped upside down. It’s a light, airy space, filled with rich, dark wood and cool stone, and in the winter warmed and lit with dozens of candles, which hold sentry at various perches around the church, under windows, above aisles, and lined along golden candelabras.
Geoff at 11     My father began attending St. Luke’s when he first moved to New York from Chicago at the age of 11. It was at St. Luke’s that he studied the catechism for children—every year, he points to the uppermost peak of the church above the entrance and says, “I studied in a small room called the narthex, with other children who were all younger than me.” The beloved butter cake we consume every year for Christmas began as a post-church treat for my father. Back then, it cost him 99 cents and was purchased from a German bakery on his walk back home.
     My father’s “spiritual guide,” as he calls him, was a dramatic, energetic man named Reverend Thomas Blomquist, who once worked as a batboy for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. According to my father, his confirmation as a member of St. Luke’s did not result from his understanding of the doctrine, but rather because “I knew so much about baseball.” My father was confirmed with holy water drawn from a clamshell baptismal font that still sits on its pedestal today. It is so large I would not be surprised to learn it originally birthed Venus on the shore. In writing this I learned that Rev. Blomquist had served as a naval chaplain during World War II; he brought the giant clamshell from the South Pacific when he returned back home. Fifteen years old at his baptism, my father was taller than the reverend, who had to reach up, standing on his toes, to pour the water over his head.
     To this day, my father claims “baseball and butter cake” made him “as much a Christian as the Baby Jesus,” but I think it was more than that. My father, ever loquacious, always filled with information he longs to share, grows solemn, respectfully—almost dutifully—silent when we attend St. Luke’s on Christmas Eve. Air cargo, the subject about which we have revolved our lives, retreats like a fog back out to sea as we moor ourselves to the choir’s clarion call. Music, my father’s other ever-present passion, rolls in and permeates our thoughts. We open our hymnals and sing along, and my father sings, and I imagine he remembers himself as a young boy learning about faith, community, and being one with others. I imagine this is where he learned how to create a space for the family he would one day make, how to create a space for the cargo community—where he learned to share, and listen, and quiet his mind. Every other day of the year he animates with talk about lithium batteries, security, historic preservations, and the wonderful companies with which we’ve formed a cargo family. At St. Luke’s, for the two hours we are singing, listening, and clearing our thoughts, a cleaner, uncomplicated version of my father emerges. One that once walked himself home after lessons in the stony narthex above a modest but beautiful church, that talked baseball with a kind and loving spiritual father, a boy who stopped at a German bakery for 99-cent butter cake.
     On Christmas Eve, I share with my father something other than air cargo. We sit and listen to exquisite voices rising high to the rafters in harmony, we join our voices to the stream of sound and let it fill us as it fills the space. There is nothing quite like voices singing together on one of the darkest days of winter. It does something to the mind and body when you give yourself over to it—if you've ever wanted to feel at one with those around you, go somewhere you can sing with people.
Flossie Arend     We love you, air cargo, but I cherish the man who comes home from St. Luke’s without the cargo monkey on his back. Geoffrey Arend, Patron Saint of Air Cargo Reportage, inevitably reemerges on the first of the New Year, but the cargo community should take comfort in this brief respite. It’s what makes him so good at being a part of this community—it’s the spirit that revives his passion for the year.
     We hope you enjoyed this peek into another corner of our Christmas, and I can only hope to have something new and interesting to share next year.
     I suppose the story will be about this unusual year when we gather at a distance for short periods of time.
     We can only hope and pray that you stay safe, dear reader and find some comfort in whatever form your gathering takes, as we all try and find a way to quality family time whilst protecting each other from the deadly COVID-19 Pandemic.
     Until then, FlyingTypers wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

chuckles for December 19, 2014

Peter Grosz, Geoffrey Arend and Anthony Atamanuik
Anthony Atamanuik Trump video

     In the photo in The Christmas Story far left, next to Flossie who created today’s story, is her husband Anthony Atamanuik.
     Anthony has gained world attention for his portrayal of Donald J. Trump on the Comedy Central series “The President Show” that is easily found on YouTube and also on Comedy Central worldwide.
     Just the RX for a binge watch we say; a gift of laughter for all seasons during these cooped up, shortened days of winter 2020-21 ahead.
     Anthony’s President Trump is not acerbic, thoughtless and nasty, but rather laugh out loud funny. If you like The Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks and Laurel & Hardy, give this one a whirl.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 19 No. 73
Competition all in the Family
Chuckles for December 1, 2020
Southwest Cargo is Wally World
The Front Paige in Atlanta
Letters to the Editor

Vol. 19 No. 74
The Flying Cool Warehouse
Qatar Cargo Doggone Great
Stanley Lim, The Perennial
Chuck Yeager and a Stick of Beemans

Vol. 19 No. 75
Air Cargo Future Full of Presents
Chuckles for December 14, 2020

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend

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