Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Christmas Eve, Where Are You?

Christmas Eve! Here I am in Alabama, and no place to go. Already been to church, which is amusing in the way that only semi-small town church services can be (lots of Christmas themed knit sweaters on men and women, lots of antsy kids who can’t sit still during the service, a choir whose members aren’t necessarily all on key, and YES! The pastor dropped the communion plate! Lucky for him, it was only the bread part.) I’ve already helped The Phone Harpy Who I Love Very Very Much decorate the Christmas tree, and I’ve chortled merrily at the local TV preacher who’s bellowing Deep South style, “Don’tcha know it take FAITH to pay yo’ TITHE!?!?!?” He’s the type you worry is going to have an embolism on the spot, he’s so worked up.

A few weeks ago at my monthly prayer meeting, we were told to turn to the person next to us and tell them what our favorite Christmas tradition is. My buddy Donald next to me said baking his super special Cherry Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies. I said going to IHOP with Roomies Heckle and Jekyll. I’m not a standard traditional gal. Even though we all live in the same house, Roomie Heckle and Jekyll and myself rarely eat meals together, and this particular tradition started about three years ago, and we move heaven and earth to make it happen. We had exactly one day this year where everyone’s schedules meshed, and Roomie Heckle turned down a paying PA gig so we could go. It’s great fun to listen to them talk about this, that and the other, even if this year’s topic of conversation was which celebrity I should try and get pregnant by (my protests of “I’m not having kids” and “I’m pretty sure my insides are high, dry, and fried” were summarily ignored.)

No, I am not a traditional Christmas gal. I feel a little bad about it, as all my Act One classmates have had a running commentary on our message board about what their favorite Christmas carol is. Everybody’s got a list, with lengthy explanations. Because they’re all more Christian than me. STOP!

But honestly, Christmas carols don’t do it for me (I guess the one I like to sing to the best is U2’s “It’s Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”). The story of Jesus’ birth doesn’t make my heart sing. I don’t feel joy, rapture, whatever. My family doesn’t gather round the fire and pop popcorn, swap stories, or otherwise do the Norman Rockwell thing. My dad is currently sleeping at the kitchen table while “A Christmas Story” is playing on the TV. He does that every year. The Phone Harpy is reading Margaret Atwood in front of the Christmas tree. I’m in the family room with my new buddy the TV Preacher, “Don’tcha know the DEVIL’s gonna tell ya yo’ a LOSER!” Oh yes, I do. Yes, I do.

My Christmas reading is re-reading my favorite Stephen King story ever, The Stand. Which is absolutely a Christian allegory and no, I am not making that up. It’s not Christmasy, though. But I’ll take uniquely me over tradition every time.

I was having coffee with Miss Eunice today. Miss Eunice is a lovely woman who’s been a friend of the family and a mentor to me for years and years. I tell her things I don’t tell the Phone Harpy (The Phone Harpy doesn’t need to know about my sex life. Ooops. HI MOM! I LOVE YOU BUNCHES AND BUNCHES!), and Miss Eunice never judges me, just listens and offers advice. And I was talking about my Year Of Searching Spiritually, and how I can’t wrap my head around, or be a Cheerful Enacter of things like Compassion, God’s Grace, All That Fun Funky Stuff, Miss Eunice said something along the lines that those things aren’t stuff you learn (or earn), they’re things you ALLOW.

I’m reminded of my favorite Christian author Anne Lamott (okay, she’s probably the only Christian author I know. So what.) Anne Lamott described the moment she became a Christian as a series of days where a nagging feeling kept at her, like a lost but persistent cat mewing incessantly to be let inside, until finally, Anne gave up one day and said “Well come in already.” Basically, she ALLOWED Jesus in, albeit exasperated and fed up, but it all counts in the eyes of You Know Who.

I would like to allow Compassion in. I would like to allow God’s Grace in. I would like to allow Forgiving Myself in. But none of that stuff is mewling incessantly to be let in. It’s more stuff I see shining piously on a shelf, and I know I SHOULD have it in my house, my house would be a better house if it had that stuff in it, people would admire it and think I’m a lovely person for having it, but shouldn’t it be that I want the stuff because I WANT THE STUFF, rather than I THINK I SHOULD HAVE THE STUFF.

Here’s what I’m doing now. The response to the Gabriel monologue in the Christmas show was so overwhelmingly positive, that it occurred to me that I should keep going. I should do MORE monologues, I should do a whole COLLECTION of them. Yeah! That’s it. A collection of monologues about the Christmas story, told from the point of view of people other than Mary and Joseph, but people who still played a part. People like Gabriel. The Shepherds. The Magi. The Donkey who has to carry Mary to Bethlehem. The Innkeeper who directs them to the manger. Satan’s gonna get a monologue (don’t you think he’s got something to say on the night of Jesus’s birth? I do.), so does Luke, the gospel writer. Okay, I’m taking liberties here and there, like Joseph’s poker buddy, who Joseph confides in that his fiancĂ©e is pregnant. And I’m debating whether I can get away with a monologue from John the Baptist as a baby inside Elizabeth’s womb.

But I did a second draft last night of Elizabeth’s monologue, where she’s explaining to the town gossip exactly how she became pregnant at 60 plus years old, and why exactly Zechariah can’t talk, and I’m finding all sorts of nifty parallels between Zechariah and the town gossip needing to know why you should say “How will this happen” instead of “How can this happen.” It feels like something I’m supposed to be doing. Don’t know where it’s gonna go, I don’t even know if it’s gonna work. But I feel like I have to try.

So that’s how I’m celebrating Christmas. In my own way. In my own style. I don’t know if anyone would believe me if I said, “No, no, God wants me to be working on these monologues more than He wants me to work on being compassionate towards other people.” It does sound like a cheat, I know. I go where the pull is, I guess.

Ah, and wouldn’t you know it, I’m listening to Bob Mould’s “Days Of Rain” right now on the Itunes. It’s not a Christmas song, but the very end goes like this:

I only wanted things that would make you happy
I only wish for you that you find your way
I only hope you see that you make things happen
I only wish that you could be right someday.

God? Is that you God? It’s me, Amy The Writer. Ha ha ha.

Regardless, I think it serves as a fine Christmas wish to you all. Melancholy, I know, but hey, listen to the lyrics of the original “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and tell me THAT’s a song of sweetness and light.

I only wanted things that would make you happy
I only wish for you that you find your way
I only hope you see that you make things happen
I only wish that you could be right someday.

Merry Christmas, everybody. ☺


Midlife Virgin said...

Merry, merry Christmas, dear heart. Enjoy it in whatever way brings YOU joy. Travel safe, write well and here's to a new and wondrous 2007!aby

Anonymous said...

merry christmas!

Richard T said...

Christmas monologs? NOW yer talkin', Amy!!!