“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” – Jean Kerr
“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” – Jean Kerr
At the new new-rollogist, who is a Howdy Doody/Doogie Howser combo platter. He does not impress me with either brilliance or sensitivity. I sit for many minutes, two separate times, on a purple vinyl exam table, in a white paper gown (“disrobe down to your undergarments, gown opens in the back”) while he leaves the exam room to make phone calls. Checking on seriously ill patients? Nope. Calling stores at the mall looking for some damn thing that he has yet to buy, and must pick up after he leaves the office, after he finishes my alleged exam. I’m thinking he is not “the one.” On to the next doc. (And who says “undergarments,” for Doogie’s sake!?)
Took LG to the final rehearsal of the church children’s Christmas play, “Christmas, Where, When and Why.” Left there thinking, “Dear Lord, these children need some help.”
Somehow, between yesterday and today, prayers were answered, because the kids did an amazing job. LG played a wheelchair-bound paraplegic who realized she could still “bring Him glory, just the way I am.” She sang a solo and did us all proud. And the other kids pulled it together, too. There were the two sisters, ages 12 and 7, who have “R” trouble, that is, all their Rs sound like Ws. And I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything sweeter than when they sang,
Do you wemember when you fiwst hewd the stowy of Jesus?
It’s the stowy of a mangew, the stowy of some shephewds,
The stowy of angels singing peace on eawth,
It’s the stowy of a Saviow, the stowy of a viwgin biwth,
The stowy of a pwomise fwom God’s wowd.
I cried. So sweet.
Then there was this coooool duuuuude who sang “The Thought-that-Counts Blues,” in which he lamented
I really tried to smile when my neighbor came by with a fruitcake casserole
And call me ungrateful, but my Grandma Mabel gave me reindeer-scented cologne
After the “R Song,” that one was my favorite
Before we went to bed, LG prepared Santa’s milk and cookies, and the reindeers’ carrots, and she also left a note and her VideoNow camera, telling Santa (sic), “I would very much love a picture of you. If its not to much troble, please take one. The directions are with the camera.” And she left the directions.
Everyone at the Fairchild home must have been good this past year, because Santa was very generous. I got a couple of books, an outfit, some blingage (a diamond circle pendant), and other good stuff. Biscuit only got two gifts, and for some reason, Indie the fish got none (still trying to explain that), but everyone else was quite happy on Christmas morning. Santa left LG a note, saying, “I had my elf take a picture of me by your tree. I will email it to you soon. Ho Ho Ho.”
Then it was on to join Jif’s family at Nana and Pop Pop’s. They really do an extravaganza of both food and gifts. This was their first time hosting a family Christmas since they moved to their smaller (though still plenty big) retirement home.
My FIL is, despite all the stories told of his younger, more under-the-influence days, quite the proper gentleman, and notoriously faithful to hearth and home, family values and the like. So what my BIL and I did to him on Christmas day in his own home was probably especially inappropriate. We were looking through old photo albums, old as in from the 30s and 40s. More often than not, if we couldn’t figure out a great aunt or uncle, we’d call my MIL over to the table to make the I.D. Then we came upon a book that pre-dated even her. It was my FIL’s photo album from before they were married, some 53 years ago. There was a photograph in there of a very attractive brunette, in a tam, on a city sidewalk, with a signature on the front, “Love, Elma.” We asked my MIL who Elma was. At first she offered it must be Aunt Alma, but we assured her that it was clearly an “E,” not an “A,” and that we knew Aunt Alma, and this hottie was no Aunt Alma. This was Love Elma. So MIL came over to look, and she had never heard of Elma. So we had to summon FIL. As he made his way to the table, I came upon another photo of someone who looked an awful lot like Elma, again, on a city street corner, but this time with not one, but THREE baby carriages around her, with young’uns from infancy to toddlerhood occupying them.
“Ooh, look, the plot thickens,” I said, “here’s Love Elma with the Love Children . . . “
My BIL and I were laughing by the time my FIL got to the table. BIL presented the photo of Love Elma to his 76-year-old father, saying, “Do you remember tappin’ this?!“
Not quite understanding the question, FIL looked back and forth from Love Elma to BIL. He slowly answered, “No . . .”
So I presented FIL with the photo of (possibly) Love Elma and the three Love Children, asking, “Does THIS refresh your memory?”
By this time, other sibs and MIL had gathered to give him a hard time about Love Elma and the Love Children.
Later on, after the timer was set to take the 16-member family Christmas photo, when someone said, “Let’s take one more . . .” I said, “We’ll send this one to Elma!”
Elma, if you’re out there, and you remember Joe from Carbondale, email me.
Ever a man of his word, Santa emailed LG, with the promised photograph, taken by his elf, Bucky
Sunday Post ~ A story that we like to read on Christmas Eve
The Night of Peace
Then God spoke to all the animals and He told them, “I know that you are the worst sufferers of all — you are persecuted and haunted by man, and slaughtered and killed in your thousands. But I am going to send Someone who will also take care of you.”
The animals spoke back to God and they said, “How will we know when He comes?”
And God said, “You’ll know when He comes because I will send a star, a shining star low over the land, and,” He says, “this star will stop when I send the person I want to earth to teach you. Where that star comes to rest — there my Son shall come to earth.”
And the animals were pleased.
So, that night when Jesus was born, the old wolf came out of his den. He was very hungry. He too had heard the Word of God before that time and all day he had lain in his den so lean and hungry — tonight he would go out and hunt. The moon was up and the stars were shining, and one great star came across the sky! The wolf looked and he saw and he felt peaceful, he felt no violence. He didn’t want to kill, he didn’t want to hunt, he didn’t want anything. So he sat and he looked at the star and the star came to rest not far from where the wolf was: the place to this day is known as Bethlehem.
But he hadn’t sat very long when the next one who came out of his den was a fox. The fox too was hungry and was intending to go and hunt that night, travel many, many miles to look for his fare. But after he came out of his den, and the moon was shining clear and he saw the star (and he too had heard the Word of God when God spoke to all animals), he felt peaceful and content with the world. He had no urge to kill, he had no urge to steal, no urge to do anything, he just wanted to sit and be peaceful.
So he walked up and he sat down beside the wolf. The wolf and the fox were never really enemies — hey kept apart from each other but they never really were enemies. So the wolf turned round and said, “Well, Mister Fox, I see you’re on your hunt tonight again.”
“Oh yes,” he said, “but I feel very funny. I feel hungry — more than hungry — I’ve been lying in my den in my cave, hiding out all day, but I’ve got no urge to kill, no urge to steal — and it overpowers my hunger pangs.”
“The same with me, ” says the wolf, “I feel the same way. You remember that God told us that one night He was going to send His Son to earth to walk among animals and people and teach them the way this earth should be run?”
“Aye,” says the fox, “I got word of that too.”
“Well, I expect,” says the wolf, “this is the night.”
So the two of them sat talking for a wee while, when who comes tottering down his path but a big brown hare! And he came to a full stop beside the wolf and the fox. And the wolf paid him no heed and neither did the fox. The hare was amazed. Otherwise he would have stopped terrified. But he felt no fear! Any other time he’d have been off like a shot in case the wolf or the fox would get him. He sat with his ears straight up!
And it was the wolf who spoke, “Well, Mister Hare, I see you’re off on your rambles tonight again.”
“Well,” the hare said, “I was off down the valley to the farm. A grass field is there and I was off to fill my belly and have a feed. But I have no inclination tonight . . . I feel hungry but I’ve no inclination to eat. I feel so peaceful and quiet, ” he said, “I feel at peace with the world. Even you two — I feel at peace with you although you’re my enemies.”
“Oh!” said the wolf, “pay no heed to us tonight! Tonight is the Night of Peace. Have you not heard,” he said, “the Word of God?”
“Oh yes,” said the hare, “I’ve heard the Word of God, that some day he’s going to send His Son, God’s Son, to walk among us, among all humans and animals and teach them the Word of God — how animals should be treated on this earth as well as human beings.”
“Well,” said the wolf, “I expect tonight is the night. Look down the valley there, the moon is shining and you’ll see the shepherd sitting out with his sheep, and his dogs are beside him! Those dogs have picked up our scent long long ago, the scent of the wolf and the fox and probably the scent of you too. And they pay no heed, they too are peaceful. So is the shepherd. Tonight I think all animals will be peaceful.”
“Well,” the hare says, “tonight if you’re going to be like that and the fox is going to be like that, why don’t we all gather together — you go that way and I’ll go this way, and let the fox go another direction! Tell every animal that you meet on your way that tonight is the night God has sent His Son to earth, and we shall have a night of peace — no animal shall destroy another.”
“Well,” says the wolf, “that would be a very good plan, for tonight I feel very funny — I feel so happy although I’m hungry!”
So the wolf went in one direction, the fox went in another direction and the hare went another. The hare met all the small mammals along the way and he told them the same thing — from the very little shrew-mouse to the hedgehog, the rat, the vole and the water vole — and everyone felt the same.
So the fox went off and he met many other animals — he met the rabbits and he met the badger, he met the stoat and he met the weasel — he met them all and told them the same thing, “This is the Night of Peace.”
So the wolf went off and he wandered in the same way. He met the deer — the deer was amazed because the wolf never chased him — and the deer was peaceful. The wolf traveled on and on and he walked among the cattle. The cattle were peaceful. Till he came to the donkey — the donkey was peacefully grazing. And the wolf walked up.
He says to the donkey, “Hello!”
“Oh!” says the donkey,”I see you’re on your travels tonight once again,” and the donkey stood still.
He said to the donkey, “Tonight all the animals are at peace.”
“That’s true,” said the donkey, “all the animals are at peace! Why have you come to disturb me?”
“I have not come to disturb you,” he said. “I have come to tell you the good news.”
The donkey says, “Look, Mister Wolf, you don’t have to come tell me the news. I too, more than anyone else, have heard the Voice of God! And this night,” he said, “is the night that God’s Son is born. Let us all be at peace!”
And that night, the whole night through, all the animals on the hills, the mountains, in valleys and woods were at peace with each other. No one touched another, no one killed another, and the whole night out they celebrated the coming of Jesus Christ to earth!
– A Scottish story told in “Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children”
And another story for Christmas Eve:
Wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, Peace be with you, tonight and throughout this season and the coming year.
Amen and Merry Christmas!
Since I just told you how we lie and steal at Christmas, I figured I’d go all out and tell you how we cheat, too. Well, to be perfectly honest (sometimes I am!) I should say I cheat. I am the cheater in the family. And I suppose in the process of cheating, I have lied as well. (Isn’t that always the way with cheaters?) The story I am about to tell you is true. The names have been changed to protect . . . well, no one, because everyone who would recognize anyone will recognize them even with the changed names, but I’ll change them anyway. I always said that this story could not be told until at least two of the parties involved were deceased. But that was rather an extreme position, because it’s not like it’s a matter of national security, it’s just a matter of . . . vanity, ingenuity and deception. In that order.
Long, long ago, in a department store about 5 miles away, there shopped three fair ladies. There was the Queen; her daughter, Princess Shirazz; and her daughter-in-law, Lady Susie. The Queen has long been reputed to be very difficult to shop for (for whom to shop?). This is because, as is often the case with Queens, if she wants something, she already has it. Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie were meandering through the Women’s department at Macy’s when the Queen spied a sweater that she fell instantly in love with (or with which she fell instantly in love). Now, this was quite exciting to Lady Susie, who had not yet bought the Queen a Christmas gift. The Queen held up the sweater, a black, tunic length turtleneck with brightly colored diamond shapes on the front (an argyle sweater, it was), and both Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie agreed that this was the perfect garment for the Queen, and would most definitely fit her as though it were custom made. The Queen agreed, and Lady Susie was just about to insist that the Queen allow her to purchase the sweater as a gift, when the Queen looked at the size tag. It read, “2X.” And the Queen said, “Oh. It’s a 2X. I wear a 1X. I can’t wear that big thing.”
Rats (entire rats, not just asses). Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie set about scouring the racks for the same argyle sweater in a size 1X, but alas, it was not to be found. Lady Susie did, however, find a similar sweater, by the same designer, in a size 1X. And she held it up beside the Queen’s beloved sweater, pointing out to the Queen the REALITY that there really was only a miniscule difference between the two sizes, and since the Queen loved the sweater, and since it would most certainly fit, and since Lady Susie was so freakin’ tired of trying to think of a nice gift for the Queen, one that she would actually use, then wouldn’t it be acceptable, just this once, to buy the size 2X?
“No.” The Queen had spoken.
Lady Susie pulled Princess Shirazz aside and told her that she had a plan. She asked the Princess to keep the Queen busy. And then Lady Susie did something that is almost certainly wrong, by someone’s book of what’s right and what’s wrong, but probably (though not definitely) was not illegal. And perhaps not even immoral. Well, you be the judge.
Lady Susie took the size 2X sweater that the Queen loved, and a size 1X sweater by the same manufacturer, into the fitting room. And there, being a former Brownie who is always prepared, she took from her purse a small pair of scissors, and she (oh no she di’int) (oh yes she did) carefully cut the 1X tag from the “other” sweater. She put the tag in her purse for safekeeping, and then, unbeknownst to the Queen, she purchased the size 2X black tunic turtleneck argyle sweater.
Later, back at the palace, Lady Susie ever-so-carefully removed the size 2X tag from the garment, and ever-so-carefully handstitched the size 1X tag back in its place. She then placed the lying sweater in a gift box and lovingly wrapped it in fine Christmas paper.
On Christmas morning, when the Queen opened the sweater, she exclaimed, “Oh! I can’t believe you found it in my size! I LOVE it.” And that was the truth, because the Queen was seen wearing that sweater for several years to come.
So there you have it. I did not set out to do a series of true confessions at Christmas time, as I have done in my last few posts. But I do feel better for having cleared my conscience. At least until the Queen hears of this.
Something about Christmas brings out my need to confess. I just recalled that last year at this time, I told y’all about some lying and cheating, too.
And now, I give you the Christmas Fairchildren. This is from the photo we sent out with our Christmas cards, except their noses were the regular boring color in those photos. Thanks to Shawkey, I was reminded of how much fun it is to give red noses to those who can’t do anything to stop you. You do it, too! And go tell Shawkey if you do. She has issued a challenge!
I swear we didn’t mean to.
It was last night. We had been to the mall. (Here I must pause to high-five Jesus and anyone who’s been praying for me. My WTFy legs taking me through the mall at the end of the day is truly a Christmas miracle.) THE MALL. At night, the week before Christmas. So we were in a weakened, vulnerable state. A grumpy state. A spacey state. A hungry state.
When we got home, there were the boxes that perch on our porch almost daily now, courtesy of the UPS man. One of them was a Harry & David box. That means some good things to eat! We know this, because we’ve gotten them before, from nice people. So we bring it in. It’s the Deluxe Gift Tower! Woohoo!
Weakened, vulnerable, grumpy, spacey, hungry Jif holds it aloft, like Simba in the Lion King. Woohoo!
“Ha! Hold it like Simba again, let me get a picture!” Woohoo!
Then I take over. “Let’s see . . . we’ve got your chocolate covered cherries . . . got your truffles . . . got your mixed nuts . . . got some very pretty apples . . . and . . . pears!” Woohoo!
Then Jif takes over again. And I, from the comfort of the family room couch, ask him, “Hey! Who’s it from?”
“Says . . . Harry & David.”
“Does not! Find the card!” Woohoo! Chocolate covered cherries!
“Says . . . Jane and Will Johnson. They thank us for our support.” Woohoo!
“Woo . . . WHO?” We don’t know Jane and Will Johnson. We look more closely. It’s our address on the label. But it’s NOT OUR NAME! The Deluxe Gift Tower was NOT OURS! It was sent to The Gorillas, at our address. We bought our house from the Gorillas. Five years ago! Oh, &%^$! One truffle and two cherries had already been consumed.
Really, how much support could the Gorillas be to the Johnsons if they moved 5 years ago and never even told them? We would be much more supportive than that.
(Tune in next time for, “And We Cheat!”)
Every year, as part of the sacred celebration of that holiest of holidays, the birth of our Lord and Savior, I lie like a rug. I just sent an email, claiming to be someone I’m not. It was to my daughter, from email@example.com. A couple of years ago, as Christmas approached, she was not making a name for herself on the “nice” list, if you know what I’m saying. Her room was atrocious, impenetrable, even. Finally, that year, the fat man threatened her with not leaving any gifts at all, if his elves did not report back to him that at least her floor was visible by Christmas Eve. (Yes, I have saved that letter so that she can take it to her therapist some day.)
The first Christmas lie (Santa doesn’t count) was one that LG actually originated herself, and there was no way I was contradicting it. When she was a wee little high-chair sitter, her wee high-chair sat next to our breakfast room window. Out that window, she had a perfect view of the home of our neighbor, Missy Colleen, who lived around the block from us, and a corner of whose backyard joined a corner of our backyard. At the front of Missy Colleen’s house stood a very tall utility pole. On that pole was (and I guess still is, though we moved a few years ago) a large, bright, street light. When toddler LG looked out that kitchen window, one dark December evening (no doubt after I’d been indoctrinating her with the Christmas story, as I did since she was about 10 months old), she pointed a plump, dimpled finger toward that light and said excitedly, “THE STAW-UH!”
I looked. I saw no staw-uh. Of course, I didn’t yet know what a staw-uh was. LG was undaunted by my ignorance.
“THE STAW-UH! THE STAW-UH!”
“The . . . staw? uh?” I tried to understand, since clearly it was something quite special.
“THE STAW-UH OF BUFF-LA-HAM!”
Well, I’ll be darned. She was right. There, big as life and twice as bright, was the Star of Bethlehem, curiously affixed to a pole in front of Missy Colleen’s home. The Staw-uh of Buff-la-ham, indeed. The beauty of that perception is . . . Missy Colleen. If the Star of Bethlehem were going to take up residence in suburban Baltimore, there is no place more worthy of its residence than Missy Colleen’s house. She LOVES her some Jesus, and will tell you so at the drop of a hat. She is in her late 70s now, and she will tell you about her younger years when she lived a rather “worldly” life. She will also tell you how once she met Jesus, in her 50s, her life began again. Missy Colleen (as she refers to herself) is in a wheelchair, from childhood polio. (Her wheels never stopped her from “getting around,” back in the day.) She is beautiful, in face, in body, in spirit. A few years ago, she married a tall handsome man who attends to her in the way in which she should be attended, and who sings show tunes with her, for the entertainment of visitors, say, a “young” friend with WTF disease who drops in to ask Missy Colleen for prayer. I adore Colleen. She is an example to me of a mature Christian. She is more conservative than I, in many ways, but mostly she is trying every day to do her best to follow Christ, and to acknowledge that whatever wrong thing someone else is doing, she probably did as bad or worse, or would have if she’d thought of it, and God still loves us all.
So, I ask you, why would the Star not sit right out in front of Missy Colleen’s? Well, it would, of course. LG asked me, either last year or the year before, if you can still see the Star of Bethlehem from our old kitchen window. I said I believe you can. You know, as I write this, maybe that’s not a lie after all.
What lies do you tell, or were you told, in celebration of Christmas?
Sunday Post ~ “Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.” – Annie Besant
file under: &Sunday Post
Earlier this week at chez Fairchild:
Jif: You haven’t told me what you want for Christmas…
Susie: Yea, if I were you, I’d hold off on spending the big bucks on ME. I mean, you might want to wait until I get a diagnosis before you go buying anything with a long shelf-life, if you know what I’m sayin’…
Jif: Oh, stop.
This afternoon, out to lunch, after today’s appointment:
Jif: So, now that you’re not going to be dying any minute now, what do you want for Christmas?
The doc today said that while the throat symptoms are suggestive of monstrous diseases, he does not see the “muscle wasting” that one would expect to see present with the monstrous illnesses. (Remember the insult, “Up your nose with a rubber hose?”* Well, that keeps happening to me, like today, except it’s up my nose AND down my throat with a rubber hose on which is affixed a video camera. How’s THAT for an insult?) He says I should keep pursuing a diagnosis with the New-Rollogist — I’m seeing a NEW New-Rollogist next week — and that I should see a speech pathologist to help me learn to deal with the weird throat muscle contractions that are plaguing me like . . . a plague. So. It was not bad news; just not as good as I’d wished for. I must be patient. Some more. Apparently. And pray. Some more. And I can do that. Especially with help. With helpers. Thanks, helpers
*It’s funny how perspective changes. I’ve probably thought many times in my life, after visiting someone in the hospital or such, that I would HATE to have a tube up my nose, down my throat. Now, if someone offers to stick a flexible scope up my nose, or an inflexible lead pipe down my throat, I’m all, “HELLZ YEA! If it’ll help you help me, by all means, bring it on!” I want to go back to being a normal person with only the occasional finger stuck up my nose.