I was working on something that was going to be all clever and funny—7 reasons to stay Anglican—but it isn’t coming out right, which means I need to wander away and then try again later. Also, a random cat looked in at the window last night and then happily came in the door. We think it’s a she (I mean, seriously, we have no idea) and are sure that some lovely person is probably desperately looking for her(?). So anyway, because I didn’t sleep last night because of petting this super friendly cat as it walked up and down, up and down across the bed, how ‘bout some regular takes.
This weekend ramps up the Christmas desperation to the nth degree, beginning with Lessons and Carols on Saturday. I have managed to negotiate all six of my children to be in the choir, including the oldest boy who has a very deep bass voice. He is there against his will, and lets me know all the time that I have probably ruined everything, which I happen to know is not true because I recently heard him singing when it wasn’t even time for choir, which I haven’t heard him do since his voice changed. This is a moment of miraculous sparkly Christmas triumph for me because, well, when your voice undergoes a drastic alteration, you can kind of lose your bearings, and so the whole point of him being in the choir was so he would gain the confidence to sing out loud, which is important to me because real men sing out loud in church and I want my child to grow up into a man. Also, because I am making him be in the choir, the bass section is strong enough to pull off Lessons and Carols. So it’s a win-win! Even though it involves some real (and imagined) suffering.
After Lessons and Carols, the next big thing is the Christmas Pageant on Christmas Eve. As usual, I’ve managed not to be on the ball and have let a lot of stuff careen down through the wide gaping cracks in my already inadequate administrative abilities. Happily, someone much more capable is running the rehearsals this year. I am only supposed to show up on time with the script and make the children sing their song and organize a technical rehearsal. Of the three things, I’ve only managed to make the children sing their song, and not very well at that. I’m hoping for a Christmas miracle in the shape of either not needing the technical rehearsal, or that it happens by magic or something. Honestly, because of the skill and brilliance of all the other people, the pageant is going to be beautiful no matter what. I am just making things more complicated through incompetence—that’s really my spiritual gift. Life is suffering, and I’m helping everyone to realize that more fully.
No Matter What the children say, this cat moving in for a few days is Not a Christmas miracle. We have two ill elderly cats and two loud stupid little dogs and piles of stuff we can’t keep up with. A very friendly cat coming to stay with us is not, I repeat, not the Hallmark Christmas Special of our lives. I repeat, THE CAT IS NOT A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
A real Christmas miracle would be me finishing my shopping and actually wrapping everything before 9pm tonight (which is when I turn into a malign mythical creature). Along with finding the owner of the cat, and doing all my email, and making the children bathe, and and and…Five
Speaking of miracles, in the grindingly slow process of editing my book, day 27, as it were, “spoke to me.” Frankly, noticing this is pure genius on my part. Don’t be sad, my book is Not Available to buy this Christmas because see Take Number Two about blithering incompetence. But enjoy a taste of what you cannot have:
In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. Exodus 12:11
It always seems to me—as I’m scrubbing my house for the next holiday, planning menus, figuring out what people are going to wear, wondering if I need to cook extra food for people who might just appear, so tired at the end of the day that I can’t think straight—that if I were God and I was planning a crucial theological moment, I wouldn’t include any material work. I would consign my soul to an enlightened, gnostic rest.
But God works out the salvation of his people in the dust and the details. “Fasten your belt,” he says—which means you have to have one. “Put your sandals on.” Which ones? Not the sparkly ones that will trip you up as you run the length of the Red Sea. No, the good solid ones that won’t wear out for the next forty years. The ones that you will love every day you wear them, and wearily loathe so much as you strap them on one more time for another day of walking some more. “Eat in haste,” God says. Which is well-nigh impossible, you think to yourself, standing over your pokey child as he pushes his unleavened bread and now room-temperature lamb around on his plate.
Lamb—freshly slaughtered. Its blood smeared over the doorway of your empty, swept house. The table and the hearth you will never see again. Your bundles are stacked by the door, ready to be distributed and tied on ahead of your flight.
To all the people sending me beautiful Christmas cards—THANK YOU. I haven’t sent a Christmas card since 2004, I think. That was the last year I took a picture of my then two children in cute matching clothes in front of a lovely tree, wrote a letter about our lives, and sent it to our friends and family, all of whom I had addresses for in one of those special little books designed for the purpose. Since then I had four more children, lost the book, lost my mind, and forgot that that was even a thing. I should take it up again. It could be a little miracle I devise myself, a returning to that clever bygone era of reaching across time and space without the wretched interference of the internet.
As an early present to myself, I went through and snoozed everyone in my feed yesterday who wrote the word, “Trump.” I didn’t even pause to see who I agreed with and who I didn’t. Then I went through and snoozed everyone who said “JK Rowling.” Then I concentrated on petting the NOT CHRISTMAS MIRACLE CAT in peace. On which note, I am going to take a much-needed blog break for a week. I will post on Sunday, but then after that, I’m going to completely go away from the riotous cycle of the news and the world. I will try to Instagram all the sparkle and joy, but I’m going to try to edit my poor book instead of writing anything new. It’s going to be awful, and I hope you’ll pray for me to actually face it and not shove it under a pile of wrapping paper and forget that it exists. So, on that note, A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL. Go check out more takes!