The full moon is coming up over the mountains like a big bowl of milk, and friends and neighbors are all entering church for Christmas Eve services. As the baby sits on my lap, I try to re-crease his cotton collar with my thumb and forefinger. Lots of luck.
"You look good in church," I tell him.
Of course, everybody looks good in church. The soft light. The stained glass. If I owned a nightclub, I'd copy this flattering look, invite the masses and collect my fortune.
"Please reach into your pocket
" the pastor says.
"Already?" I think to myself.
"And pull out your keys
" he says.
"Great, now they want my car," I tell my wife.
"Nobody would want your car," she whispers.
"And shake your keys as we all sing 'Jingle Bells,' " the pastor urges.
Hundreds strong, we rise to sing "Jingle Bells." Admittedly, I never really believed in the concept of a one-horse open sleigh. To pull a sleigh properly, you need at least two horses, young and strong. But I play along. It's Christmas.
Bells on bob-tail ring,
making spirits bright,
What fun it is to ride and sing
a sleighing song tonight
I carry the congregation in song for a while, till I get short of breath, then just lip-sync. In my arms, the baby is jingling his older sister's car keys. A little cylinder of Mace, attached to the key chain, dangles in front of my eyes.
It occurs to me that this could easily turn out to be a very memorable Christmas Eve: the one when I got Maced in church.
WE ARE A CATHOLIC- Lutheran-Presbyterian-Irish-Italian-Ukrainian clan, with a splash of German blood thrown on top, like vermouth.
Belonging to this many factions — at one time or another — is a little like having too many credit cards in your wallet. For now, though, we have settled on this beautiful Presbyterian church. On Christmas Eve, they offer five services.
MAN OF THE HOUSE
A little church, a little chili
Once they put away the Mace, it becomes a magic Christmas Eve.
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