Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmukkah strikes back

After 4 years in seminary (as a part of my overall graduate school experience, a.k.a. "Eyebrows fears the world of full-time employment"), I am every so often called upon by my family, who all have degrees in useful things like accounting, to do something theological. Generally this entails either funerals or helping some young cousin with a confirmation-related saint report for CCD, but this Christmas, with my grandparents absent, it entailed the pre-dinner prayer.

The pre-dinner prayer was more important this year than in years past, because we couldn't go to Mass. For only the second time in our familial life (the first time being some 20 years ago when it was so cold and snowy my parents' car wouldn't start , we simply hadn't be able to attend. Oh, we went to church. Got there 45 minutes early. Surveyed both the main floor and the balcony. But the church was "full." And by "full" I mean "lots of coats lying across empty pews and belonging to territorial people apparently saving two entire pews for a family of 20 enormously obese people who may or may not make an appearance before Mass begins." Real Christian, eh? And it's not like ol' St. Norbert's is bursting at the seams on Sundays as a regular thing - these are submarine Catholics, who surface just a couple times a year. And while as a general theological thing I'm in favor of people coming to Mass even if it's just every now-and-again, as a practical thing this Christmas I was quite put out.

Of course, nobody would let us sit down. Nobody would make room in their pews. I had a moment of serious cosmic disorientation about the whole thing - the churchgoers were preparing to read the nativity story, where Mary and Joseph have nowhere to go to have the baby and end up in a stable. All these territorial Christians saving space for their human families, rather than their Christian family (Matthew 10:35-38, anyone?), succeeded quite nicely in "no-room-at-the-inning" my family, right out of the church. (With my sister's arthritis and my mother's replaced toe, standing for 90 minutes was not a realistic option. Not to mention my own 3" spike heels, but that was my own bad choice.) Every now and then the disconnect between the lessons of the Bible and the life of the church just about knocks me over. No room at the inn, no charity for the fellow Christians, no seats for the sick.

At any rate, my mother was quite upset about this - as was I. I mean, in 26 years of life, this is the first time I've heard a big fat "no Eucharist for you!" on Christmas because my fellow Catholics don't want to give up pew space. So we agreed that I would prepare a theologically appropriate prayer and deliver it before our family dinner.

We sat down to dinner that evening, candles lit, table arrayed in finery, turkey smelling oh-so-delicious (mmmm ... turkey). I had spent a good half an hour preparing my prayer, making sure it was theologically correct, well-phrased, and made the appropriate scripture references. (I do not pray well off-the-cuff in public - I once had someone refuse to eat after my grace because I managed to gross her out.) I bowed my head and folded my hands and began my prayer:

"O Holy and Ever-living God, we praise and thank you on this Christmas Eve for sending us your son in human form, our Savior --" DREIDEL DREIDEL DREIDEL! I MADE IT OUT OF CLAY! DREIDEL DREIDEL DREIDEL! AND DREIDEL I SHALL PLAY!

Yes, right as I began my earnest prayer of awe and gratitude to the Almighty Creator of the Universe, the forgotten Barenaked Ladies holiday CD in the other room blasted into the Dreidel Song. At the highest imaginable volume.

Needless to say, it killed my Jesus mojo, and try as they might, my family was unable to control their twitching lips and smothered giggles. My whole carefully-prepared prayer went RIGHT out of my head, and I leapt in a panic into traditional grace, accompanied the whole time by the strains of the Dreidel Song - "Bless us O Lord - dreidel dreidel dreidel! - and these, Thy gifts - out of clay! - which we are about to receive - dreidel dreidel ... ."

And some people think God has no sense of humor. HA!


Star said...

*LMAO* Oh, my... I mean, uh... ((((Eyebrows))))


Samantha said...

OMG's, you had me rolling out of my chair!!! That is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I'm sorry your super-prayer was ruined, but at least everyone was able to laugh it off!!! {{{{Koi}}}}

Anonymous said...


Special bonus points for the Dogma reference. :D


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