Good evening, everyone...my January Scarf Pattern of the Month was emailed out to the subscribers (it's not too late if you want to join us by purchasing at this link), lunch at Leona's involved Bert and Alex and I submitting our names for the dead-pool, and I'm tired. Already! It's too early in the year to be tired.
Well, one of my resolutions involves a story. Two, actually. Well, three. But they all tie together. And let me start by saying that I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone. The story involves Jesus, so here you go...some of you have heard this story, but it bears repeating.
First, my dad had a sister named Aunt Starlene (my dad is the past tense, not Starlene), and she is the family crier. As everyone has a purpose on this planet, I'm sure hers is to tell stories about things like hotel towels in as great of detail as possible in an effort to build the character of the listeners. At Uncle Walt's funeral, I was standing next to my brother Mike and my Uncle George when we caught the eye of my father, standing in a corner and facing us. Aunt Starlene was standing opposite him, basically trapping him in the corner of the room with some story, probably something having to do with Starlene's newly-granted use of e-mail through Avon Cosmetics (yes, in addition to being the family crier, Aunt Starlene is an Avon lady). The three of us laughed loud enough for Dad to hear, so he...and I am sure it was just a coincidence...started to scratch his head with his middle finger.
So anyway, Aunt Starlene gave my mother and father a wedding gift back on July 23, 1966. It was a life-size Infant Jesus of Prague doll, very hip and trendy for the times. Aunt Starlene has a nativity scene in HER front yard, so this was a completely appropriate gift coming from her. Problem was, well, it was a life-size Baby Jesus too large and tacky to display in the house without hiring models to re-enact the birth-in-a-manger scene right there in the living room.
When Mom and Dad split up in January of 1982, Mom got custody of the kids, including Baby Jesus, despite the fact that it was a gift from Dad's sister. It was not as well-taken-care-of as the three of us, but it was given shelter if not so much love. Mom still has it in a box in her closet, forty-five years later, because you cannot just throw out Baby Jesus.
Fast-forward to 1992, when my grandmother died. Mom was at her parents' house, cleaning out rooms and
preparing the house to sell so Grandpa could move into a smaller "retirement community" (which is French for "condo for old widows who like playing Bingo"). There were garbage bags, avocado-colored Tupperware bowls, junior-high-school yearbooks...My mom has one sister, so there were really only two people involved in the dissemination of the house besides its owner, and Grandpa pretty much was not into saving the Woman Artifacts, such as cookware. Somehow or other, though, the Baby Jesus that belonged to my grandmother was discovered.
And somehow or other, my mother got custody of that one as well.
So now here she is, with a 45-year-old Baby Jesus and a 70-year-old Baby Jesus, in separate boxes (after
all, Michael Jackson has taught us about bunking with boys twenty-five years our junior) in her closet. Now, I have two brothers ahead of me, and for years it has been the family joke that when my mom is incapacitated, I will be the one taking care of her because my brothers would just lock her up in a nursing home somewhere. After my mother started using Baby Jesus One and Baby Jesus Two as blackmail,
however, I am considering the same alternative.
About ten or eleven years ago, mom started to joke that she was going to leave me both Baby Jesus dolls when she died. Sure enough, neither of us can even utter the word "Jesus" without it turning into a threat of
me receiving those things when the broad keels over.
During Easter brunch ten years ago, the Baby Jesus discussion turned downright ugly. Actually, it was not as ugly as the previous Easter when the hoof-and-mouth disease scare was occurring in England, and I added red sprinkles to the feet and mouth of Mom's lamb cake. But I digress. Anyway, on Easter of 2002 we rehashed the entire Baby Jesus issue for the family to join in the debate. Of course it started with Mom saying, "Just remember, when I die, you get both Baby Jesus dolls."
We all talked about the fact that throwing out Baby Jesus was not an option, since you would obviously go
straight to hell for commiting such a blasphemous act. Sue suggested donating them to a church. "No," said
Mom. "They are heirlooms. I am leaving them for Amy to deal with."
See? Just like Ophelia, I was destined for tragedy.
"Why don't you sell them on eBay?" I offered. The table was aroar with the idea that if one could not THROW OUT Baby Jesus, one could certainly not SELL OUT on Baby Jesus, either. I thought that at least this way, Baby Jesus One and Baby Jesus Two would go to good homes with parents who loved and took care of them. Sure, you run the risk of psychological damage and the inevitable consequences (teenage pregnancy, runaways, and drug use) if they get separated, but it would be worth it in the end. I was shot down.
Finally, Mom just told me to deal with the fact that I was going to get these dolls when she died, so I said,
"Fine. I will just put them in your coffin with you, and you will be buried with them." One in the crook of each arm. No one would have the cajones to remove Baby Jesus from someone's coffin, and then my mother
would be assured of going straight to Heaven.
Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my brother Steve's head. "Mom? Wait a minute...you will not throw out
Baby Jesus, you will not sell out on Baby Jesus, but re-gifting Baby Jesus is okay with you?"
So that's where we are with THAT. Then, during Christmas season in 2006, PJ and I were driving back from O'Hare airport, when we actually pulled over on Foster Avenue to take in a sight neither of us would have repeated if we didn't have each other as witnesses. We saw a manger scene in a front yard of a home that was arranged, from left to right, as follows:
Jesus (in the manger, of course)
Snowman with red and green scarf
Even better than that, we thought, was the fact that there was a grown-up Jesus statue in what appeared to be a white phone booth, back-lit like a diva, to the far left of the manger scene. We thought that perhaps, in their effort to combine the two traditions of Christmas, they were showing what a miracle it was that a snow man could survive in the desert for the birth of Jesus.
I was telling these two stories to Sheryl, one of the owners of Yarntopia in Katy, and this was the second straw which caused her to give me an unforgettable goodbye gift. The first, I'm told be her, was the fact that when I first walked into her store, there were no customers besides me and I was on the phone with PJ at the time. When I hung up, I told Sheryl I had just moved to Texas and that everyone down there just LOOOOVES Jesus. That stuck in her mind, along with me spinning in like the Tazmanian Devil and spinning back out just as quickly, leaving her in that state where she didn't know if she should laugh or cry.
Her parting gift to me, since I will have to wait for my mother to die for my "heirlooms," was the teeniest Baby Jesus you've ever seen, plucked right from her own personal home manger scene. I told you that story to tell you this one.
My minor resolutions all involve eating better, getting settled, getting ahead...the usual stuff. But I decided I need a project. I am going to start the Teeny Jesus Project, and I will attempt to take a photo of Teeny Jesus every day of 2012. It will be similar to the Flat Stanley project that third-graders complete. And again, I mean no disrespect whatsoever...please don't be offended, as I have a very high respect for the religious beliefs of others and I myself cantored at a Catholic church for a long time, so I get the importance of Jesus and the perceived disrespect this project might show. I will go ahead, go on record, and say that I love Jesus...but I still have a sense of humor. The first Teeny Jesus adventure is Teeny Jesus in our new refrigerator, complete with LED lighting and an auto-sensor for the temperature:
I hope everyone had a Happy New Year, and that 2012 brings you happiness and prosperity. And of course, happy knitting!