Night of Light
I entertained the thought that I was crashing the party. This based on looks people were giving. “One of these things just doesn’t belong here. One of these things is kinda the same. Can you tell me which one doesn’t belong here? Now it’s time to play our game. It’s time to play our game!”
Uh, me?! A Sesame Street jingle gone wrong. They talk under breath, their quick down-cast eyeing, predictable, trite small talk exchanges, not directed at me at first, but increasingly so.
My attendance was in no way a true crashing. In spite of what some people may have thought in seeing me, I had legitimately been invited. First, by the bus-driving hostess. And now, additionally in passing through the back door, by way of the industrious kitchen, and a dishwashing preschool Praxis taking teacher. By a re-invitation by a math tutoring Grandma, and her Grandson. Feeling I belonged, I accepted this gift.
This grandma and her grandchildren were in hot ham and baked potato mode inviting me to butt in line. Asking me to join around a de-light-fully decorated round church table. The menu consisted of salad, rolls and butter before buffeting meat and potatoes in a stable of sterno. Under beautifully strung five point shimmering strings of light we made our way as if following a bigger, brighter star. Atmosphere and energy makes a difference. Good energy here.
Here I found place in a hall-hugging fourth grader, his fabulous once-upon-a-classroom “fibbing” older sister, and two younger smiling sibling teddy bears. Felt like home when a South Summit school counselor, otherwise father of a favorite former student, told me “You should just join the Hoytsville Ward, where they only charge 8% tithing. I laughed this off.
This tithing that felt less like the widow’s mite and more like a pyramid scheme in a Never Land Dream waiting around a corner like a tick tocking crocodile. I think that in a week or so, when I go to tithing settlement, I will have to report. On paper…..I am likely more a part tithing patron, than a full tithe payer. But if I were to account on this thing in the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law, I would be found exceeding. In gifting more than I should in heart terms than in money. At times in gifting in other directions. Maybe I will not go to tithing settlement this year. Wonder if I can truly choose whom I will be accountable to. Hmm. Him.
I’d rather like to think I don’t need to join, or belong to anything other than an all-inclusive membership to the body and blood of Christ. I feel bound to the holy communion….to striving to live a life-like His….but have little place for organizational religion these days. Too easily disappointed. I prescribe increasingly to a body and to the word that transcends time and place and space. I love this energy.
So I found place that night in Hoytville…..in a lovely pretend Bethlehem, under the glancing and gazing of many members thinking me perhaps out-of-place. No matter. We settled into a microcosm in passing rolls, spreading butter, and pouring holiday punch.
Then as I was serving it up, along came our school district Superintendent, and his wife small stepping their way forward in line, in for an entre and shortcake frosted cookie. For a long menu of child piano renditioned Christmas carols.
I am glad to see him. I respect him greatly. He sees demons, but is not frightened by them. He reproves gently, but with increased love, as do others.
“Who would have thought we’d find you serving up drinks at the party?” While I was pouring my heart into a solo cup of belonging, I was remembering the last time exchanged words with this man. It had been under sadder circumstances in the loss of his mother and the death of my own fractured fantasy. What to say?
I smiled awkwardly with punch pitcher in hand. Filled a plastic cup and handed it to a Super man. “Would you like a drink?” He took it as if sensing I would not have it any other way. And he took it from me with a smile. This felt good and I thought this time this party was more than alright…it was a testimony to inclusion and reunion.
See, I have crashed some pretty perfect things. But I have also created some fairly positive impromptu constructions. Yes, if not a party, then at least a child’s frown turned upside down to smile moment. I can sometimes do this thing in a time of recognition and need. In a very short time I can fill another with hope and belief.
In a half empty hole, in this moment of quickening, I back fill. I feel I am growing, moving forward in witnessing something good and larger than myself. I am an Elf on a Shelf Hosting. This feels better than merely good for me and those involved. It feels swell and swelling. Heart racing.
Tonight, I had not created this feeling. “Up the Hill” Jill did. I was only fetching a pail, improving on it in celebrating togetherness, in smiling, in affirming, in remembering children, in remembering Him.
I remember when my son was a sophomore in high school, and not yet Italian, but rather Mexican, I recklessly staged a mother and son catastrophe. I hit him like a wrecking ball. I Cyrusly did. I crashed a Christmas drum line party. Completely in cymbals of the season, looking more a Mariachi with Mexico poncho, sombrero, than a mom. The mustache and eyebrows made from pill bottle cotton, dusted with cinnamon. I nearly died in huffing all that cinnamon. Poetic justice I think.
I had made my entrance to a nearby teacher friend’s home in my small town. In a matter of minutes became a self-appointed meet and greeter. Every time the doorbell rang, I answered in song: “Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano…” This became awkward when Celina and Jesus came to the door. This was clowning at its worst, and not very funny, just strange.
In time, my son arrived and entered. He responded to this with no response at all, although it was directed at him. This took all the enjoyment out of the stunt. The shock factor shocked a few, but most were kind or indifferent, in spite of the crazy moment. I had planned this to be funny, but it turned out to be nothing more than an allusion, a precursor to a certain future separation. Predicting a separation of roles and status quo. Foreshadowing a mother and son break-up in him becoming a holy man, and Italian at that. Him becoming a handsome missionary, and me…just….not so becoming. Just being, and coming to my psycho senses.
Sometime during bites of salad and extra buttered rolls, I imagined being with the Elders and Hoytsville Saints for a sustained amount of time. Week in and week out in their worship. Wondered if I would really feel this good in the gift of their prolonged presence. Would it get better or worse, if relationships and interactions were more familiar? Would they see holes in buckets too?
Deciding not to think, but to rather go more to a heart place in seeing and feeling, I took it all in. When I was full enough, I stopped. Opted for No sugar cookies for me, but some to go for the family at home. Then I drove home floating down the road noticing stars in the sky, shimmering a lot like sugar cookies offered by little kindergartener in a Giving Tree moment. I felt both full, and full of life this night, having partaken of a Delightful Christmas Dinner. Drove home slowly watching for deer, and numbering the stars in the car tail lights in the dark night.
Then tonight, I attended my own Ward dinner. I had sworn I would not. Caved in the end to my girls singing with a youth group. This we mostly missed, as Mark and I were an hour late in arriving. Almost missed the main course. We had been running errands. Almost went Christmas shopping. Put this off. And I was glad we did.
In the bustle, clean up and break down, to a backdrop of Santa coming to town, and asking questions, we ate alone in “cheese stands alone” fashion, at a last remaining table. The food was good, in that the traditional cold pressed ham was not served. Instead real hot turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
I skipped brownies and shared in conversation with a recent lonely divorcee who keeps company with two expecting nanny goats and a Trinidadian chess playing neighbor. He agreed that there are benefits to living off the Mormon grid at times. This does not include having goats, but I have to silently nod, though I don’t show it. I tell a school cleaning friend, Don, that I miss him, in home teaching him for a moment in the kitchen, over a hot, soapy sink of dishes. I confess that I love arriving to church late and leaving early in almost every circumstance.
I think about leaving the church…..as I leave the building for a chilled Pearl drive home. I drive the short distance up a snowy lane to my house, to tunes of Coffee House and The Message. Past Cowboy Crew, school board member Vern turned Bishopric counselor, and a guard railed, red reflector corral. I watch for deer, and think of first and second chances, and likely many more to come.
I think on Christmases past, present, and future…..reprimands. Sometimes when I am overcome, have done a wrong or… or… when I am rendered speechless, I think I need not turn to fear, in putting up walls, in buttoning a scratchy jacket of shame, or heavy chain mail. Instead, I think I should be kinder, in donning fuzzy sweaters. The song of the radio says, “Just say Jesus.” I whisper, “Jesus.” In these words I feel that He is forever healing me, and I am strong again and not alone.
In His light I am full of love. This thing is soft as down. Feels like a cozy winter hat and gloves won in the weekly ticket drawing. I am not alone…..I am not without a home, living a sand dune vagabond homeless life, like the Christ child on the run to Egypt. Sometimes in being warned by angels, I come through sand storms. I am full of gratitude in this. I rock to the rhythm of this night of light as if to a “Jeweled” lulaby.
deluce-mente- of light fully
encantar- to make happy
light, stars, Symbols of Christmas……..