Saturday, December 18, 2004

Guess Who Came to Dinner
Some days you do get a head

I may have previously mentioned that I have a yearly nightmare (usually in late summer) in which I find myself on December 24 with no Christmas decorations, presents, cookies, etc. In this hideous dream I spend a whole day trying to do it all. This could explain why I found John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas to be a book in the genre that my late mother defined as ‘supposed to be funny but it makes me nervous.’ (My mother left the theatre after seeing the original Out of Towners with a bad headache and a sick stomach.) Yesterday found me inching closer to the reality of that dream as I pondered in (rare) quiet moments about all that is not done. My spiritual director asked me if I was ready for Christmas; I could answer a sincere, “spiritually, yes.” He was not especially concerned that I have not finished decorating, shopping, have baked nothing, have not yet purchased a tree or parchment paper for baking meringues or plotted Christmas Eve dinner. But those thoughts kept creeping back in. I noticed that I was often mumbling to myself that “I just can’t get ahead.”

By the time I got home from work - not ahead, but sort of current, if you don’t count the crisis in lining up altar servers - I was ready to plotz. It had been a crazy day at home, too. The usual plus Cody, the Austarlian Shepherd/Chow had two seizures and wound up on an IV at Fran’s work. Rough on Cody, the family and not particularly kind to the oriental rug, either. I brought home a box with a (backordered from August) statue of St. Nicholas. A week and a half late, but the price was right. When we unpacked it, taking great care not to let the remaining dogs eat the packing peanuts, I was surprised to see that the good bishop had no miter and appeared to be clutching the keys to the Kingdom. Yesirreee, the box was marked with the St. Nicholas code number but contained St. Peter. I'm too weak to send him back. What the heck, he only cost 2.99...the shipping charges to send him back would be more than that. Maybe I'll just try to re-order St. Nicholas for next year. But wait.....there were more surprises ahead.

Rick ran out for pizza and we had a fun dinner with most of the kids and Embot and Ed. When I saw Ed walk in carrying what appeared to be a small hat box, I knew we would be having an educational evening.

Some weeks ago, Em had mentioned that Ed was assigned a human skull as part of his dental studies. After some thought and prayer, I said it might be interesting for the boys to see it. As part of their anatomy study - not just as a novelty thing. When the moment came - which we handled as reverently as possible - Eddie was quite interested, yet Chuck demurred. I was not about to force the issue. (I can see that as fodder for future psychiatrist visits. “Yes, doctor, we were having a lovely dinner and then after the light dessert the table was cleared and my mother made me examine a human skull. Right there on the green damask table cloth with the holly leaf patter. A human skull.”) It was really quite an experience. I was caught between reminding them to treat it with respect due to human remains and to be careful not to break it. The cranial sutures were a little wobbly in places, being the skull of a man who died in his twenties....and has been the study aid to several decades of dental students.

After the gravitas of that event, I was not particularly disposed to go to the mall to complete my shopping. I put on my jammies, said a prayer for the repose of the soul of Mr. X - the man who came to dinner, and settled in for some needed sleep. Feeling refreshed today, I can honestly say I got a head and I’m getting ahead.

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