Merry Christmas, Happy Chanuka, Happy New Year. Since Christmas was celebrated on the 5th of December in Lawrence, KS with my family, the 25th was a little bit of a letdown. The shops were busy and I worked more hours than usual, including Christmas Eve. I’d been to my church the previous weeks and for two Sundays in a row, I left feeling empty and more unhappy than before I went. Christmas Eve candlelight service has always been a meaningful event to me, however, I just didn’t have it in me to go downtown after work on Christmas Eve. I closed the shop in Manitou at 6. Santa had just arrived at the town clock. The temperature must have been about 5 degrees. Such a cold Autumn and start of winter. Fire engines went buzzing through the town and Santa was on the back of one, circling to the clock. I stood at the door to get a glimpz of the old man and I waved and yelled, Hi Santa! but he looked the other way and didn’t hear me. There must have been about 75 parents and children to greet him on this frigid Eve of Christmas. I was bone tired and since my car was parked in front of the store (parking sucks in Manitou) I decided to go to the 7 o clock service at the old Episcopal church across the street. I walked in and plopped myself down in a center pew, setting my black and white shopping bag I carry often down on the floor. It was chilly in the old church. There were only a sprinkling of people there. When I looked up a priest in a white robe and a rope around his waist put his hand out to me to welcome me. His face was gentle and kind and his ponytailed hair looked like it hadn’t been combed since the last holiday, Halloween. His energy was gentle and he reminded me of a character straight out of a Mel Brooks movie. He walked stooped over like he was suffering from degenerative back arthritis. The main priest was just too casual acting for me. He didn’t appear to have reverence for me and was just shouting out which carols we were to sing and walking around up and down the isle. I was feeling, god man, this is an important sacred night. Stand still and speak with respect and wonder about such a miraculous birth. I didn’t go up for communion. It looked like they were all drinking out of the same wine goblet and I’m not used to doing and even though I had my H1N1 vaccination I was still feeling a little paranoid. This is one of the first churches where I could hear myself sing, because there were only about 30 people there. Sad, 75 to 100 people to see Santa but only two hand and feetfuls plus to worship God. At one point, the two priests said something to each other about the Vietnam war that they were in and how they spent Christmas Eves there. Yeah, Charlie reminded me of a Vietnam Vet, a softened gentle one. I kept watching my Mel Brooks priest, named Charlie and he was sincere in his worship of God, sometimes raising his palms in reverence. It was a strange Christmas Eve, but Charlie made it a teeny bit magical.
The night before Christmas Eve, I had a neat experience with a family that was in shopping. It was closing time and I was tired but they were a gentle family and the mom, about my age was admiring a bracelet. Her son told her he would get it but she said she didn’t want him to spend so much. I gave her a 25% discount and she was so happy. Her son reminded me of mine. While he was waiting on his mom, he was practicing reading the French on one of our Putamayo tapes. There was also an Asian young woman with them. She bought a mohair hat that had been in the shop for ages and some threads were pulled. I gave a discount on that and took a crochet hook and tried to repair it. She was so sweet and kind too. I pictured her going to Colorado College. The boy too…..We got into a chat and they knew of Minneapolis from where I had moved and the mom grew up in South Dakota. She actually said, you betcha in the course of our conversation. After wrapping up the sales, it was time to close so I asked the young man if he would watch me walk down the icy steep pavement in the back that turned into an icy bridge over Fountain Creek while I got my car and moved it to the front of the store. I pictured myself slipping on the ice and slipping into the roaring creek. Well he said of course so we all exited the store and I locked it behind us as we walked around the corner next to the art gallery on my way to my car in the back. The funny and memorable thing about this was that the young man didn’t just come with me. He walked in front of me while I took his arm and his mother took my other arm and the friend took hers and we all carefully slid down the hill together in a sweet little clump. I told them to stay up on the sidewalk so they wouldn’t risk falling but they insisted in all three working as a team to get me down to the car. It was so great! When I got down to the bottom of the icy pavement I turned and said Merry Christmas and thank you so much as they waved goodbye and grabbed the railing on the icy bridge to head on up to their car by the store. I’d say that moment was my Christmas Magic.
I am tired and still having medical tests run, but hope to be writing more regularly soon.