Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Pageant, Presbyterian Style


Good Morning and Merry after-Christmas to each of you.  I hope you have enjoyed the cheer of the season as much as we have.  I only reached stress-level Code Red twice over the weekend and recovered quickly both times.  Erin was quite pumped about the whole gift-exchange concept.  She made all of her presents (about a dozen of them a couple of weeks ago at our church's Secret Santa Workshop), promptly wrapped them, and placed them where the tree would eventually be when her parents got around to getting one.  I think she was dumb-founded that I was still wrapping things on Christmas Eve afternoon.  Frankly, I was a little edgy about it myself, but it all got done, with almost a half an hour to spare to get ready for church. 

We attended children's church for Christmas eve again this year.  We were hoping to graduate to the more serene 7:00 service, but Erin's children's choir was performing at 4:30.  This year's program was actually quite good and got us all into the Christmas spirit. . .up until the very end.  Let me backtrack and explain.  Like many churches, First Pres ends each of its Christmas eve services with a candle lighting ceremony.  Each person in the congregation has his or her own candle.  We dim the lights in the sanctuary, sing "Joy to the World," and pass the flame of the Christ candle from candle to candle until everyone is included.  Quite uplifting and beautiful, although a little scary for parents who may not trust their small children to wield fire in a crowded dark place.  At least in that version of the ceremony, parents are standing close to their children and can snuff out potentially hazardous situations before they spread. 

This year, however, practically all of the children, down to the smallest tots, were up front in the chancel area imitating shepherds and angels and stall animals when the candle lighting part of the service arrived.  Instead of sending them back to the pews, the organizers handed each child a candle and lit them immediately, while the parents waited for their candles and flames.  What could possibly happen?  I'm sure nothing. . .you can often jam 30 children into a space the size of my kitchen, dress them in flowing robes and synthetic wings, hand them lit candles, and nothing bad will happen. 

Okay, I admit it.  I was a tad anxious.  I knew Erin's ornamental headwear was highly flammable, and I suspected as much about the angel wings and shepherds' gear surrounding her.  I also knew, from personal experience (NOTE:  yes, I was the one who caught my script on fire at a Christmas eve service several years ago, when it strayed into the advent wreath in that most Holy moment when the Buengers were lighting the Christ candle.  Only Walter's brave and heroic willingness to put the fire out with his bare hand kept the church from becoming a conflagration on the spot.) that a fire in the chancel was not an impossibility.   With wavering voice--ready at any moment to leap the alter to smother any errant flame; ready to bellow out "Stop!  Drop! and Roll"--I sang verse after verse of "Joy to the World."  Eventually, the peace of Christ was shared around the room, Phil benedicted us, and we all blew out our candles.  Then, I could go forth in the peace of the season, safe in the knowledge that the smell that wafted past my nostril wasn't really singed hair. . .and even if it was, it wasn't my child.  Another advantage of having a child with chemo-induced baldness.

Davis deserved the "Good Son" award on Christmas morning.  Years ago, he took on the gate-keeping responsibilities for the Christmas morning extravaganza.  Erin knows that she has to stop by Davis's room to get the "go ahead" before she can wake us up and check out the Santa loot.  This year, her first foray came around 2:00. . . Davis sent her back to bed.  Her second attempt came at 5:00. . . Again, Davis sent her back to bed.  Walter and I thus dodged the way-too-early bullet twice before Davis finally signaled "all systems go" around 5:30, which is early but not ungodly.

What can I say about the rest of the day?  We enjoyed every facet of it.  Gifts and guests and good food.

How does Erin feel?  On the whole, quite well.  She has a little sniffle in her nose and maybe a little cough creeping back into her system.  Monday she was tireder than usual, although she rallied to have a friend over.  She also complained of back pain for much of the day.  I was ready to go back into worry mode over that, but it was slightly better when she woke up on Tuesday and seemed to bother her less as the day progressed.  She rode horses in the afternoon, and I really thought it would flare back up afterwards, with all the jostling and jiggling, but neither her fatigue or her back rated any mention for the rest of the day.  We are headed to the park in a little while.

She will have her blood counts done tomorrow, and I expect them to be lowish for a couple of days.  Scans will be on January 9.  It's never too early to start on the shrink, shrink, shrink; die, die, die mantra aimed at the tumor cells!

Thanks for stopping by.

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