Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa the Guitar Hero

“You mean we have to do this AGAIN?!?” The 10 year old looks in disbelief at the fairway before her. We’ve just finished hole one (she maxed out at 11 hits and I made it in a mere 9) and I’m thinking that golf won’t be our sport of choice. Not even on our new Wii, which is one step below the physical demands of real golf, although with Wii you always have to be your own caddy. Of course, you can sit the whole time, but I don’t think it really offers an unfair advantage. After all, one of us would have to be any good at the pseudo-sport, and since we both stink, no one’s calling ‘foul’.
I have sold my soul this year for Christmas. Back when I was a perfect parent (pre-kids) I swore that I would never allow such a soul-sucking, time-wasting, society-destroying toy like a gaming system in my house. I also swore I wouldn’t allow rodents, and we see how that’s gone. This year, not only did I keep the Wii sent by the grandparents, but I’m actually allowing Santa to give my oldest 2 children DSlites—pink and blue so we can tell them apart. My step-mum joked that everything we’re giving this year includes batteries, and she's about right. I don’t think we need batteries for the pajamas or the oranges that sit in the bottoms of the stockings, but I haven’t actually checked.
Years ago, when I still had ideals and beliefs, I pictured my little family nestled close on Christmas morning. We’d gently unwrap (without ripping the paper) our homemade gifts and gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes as we expressed our joy at being together. In the afternoon, we’d volunteer at the local homeless shelter or food pantry, giving back to the community some of the blessings we had during the year. So much for my Hallmark fantasy. Our lives are more like a Disney sitcom than I want, only our hair isn’t nearly so beautiful.
The 4 year old has a wish this year. She wants to open presents while we sip cocoa by the fire. Maybe it’s genetic. And maybe that’s one unplugged vision I can fulfill.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saints and Angels Sing

The hymnbook at my church contains 341 songs. Here’s a math problem for you: with 341 songs, and 52 weeks to sing, assuming 2 songs each week, how long would it take you to sing each song in the book? The answer: you’d never sing them all because no chorister has ever chosen “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy” or “God’s Daily Care”. But you would grow deathly bored with “Called to Serve” and “Israel, Israel, God is Calling” because you would sing those at least once a month.
Here’s another math problem for you: if you have 4 weeks between Christmas and the New Year, and you have 15 songs that can be sung only during that time, how many songs would you need to sing each week in order to sing them all? The answer: 8 songs, because the chorister wouldn’t choose any Christmas songs the first 2 weeks of December. I suffer through the singing during the rest of the year largely on the hope that, come Christmas, we’ll sing “Once in Royal David’s City” or “With Wondering Awe”. And if it’s a very good year and I’ve been especially obedient and docile, we sing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” I absolutely swoon when I see that on the register.
I must have been particularly rotten this year. We have yet to sing a single Christmas song and we’ve only got 2 weeks left in the season. Today we sang 2 songs that, while lovely, made me want to weep with hopelessness. Another week out of my favorite season wasted on songs that can be sung any ol’ day of the year. Last week, I threatened Hal. I told him I was going to sing “Far Far Away on Judea’s Plains” in stead of “Where Can I Turn for Peace,” which is what the rest of the congregation was singing. I cajoled, bullied and pestered him, but he refused join me. The chorister is a friend of ours and Hal is slightly afraid of her.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going Christmas caroling at the house of every church leader in our local area. When they hear my caterwauling, they’ll beg me to stop singing. But I won’t. Nope. First, they’ll have to promise to coerce the chorister into singing Christmas songs the entire season next year. And this year? I want “Ring Out, Wild Bells” on the 27th or I’m going to record myself singing Christmas songs and play it through the intercom system at church. One way or another, I’m getting my Christmas fill or someone’s gonna suffer.