Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Well, semi-good people. Well, me.
Normally we all gather at Nina's and Laurent's house (my sister and brother-in-law) on Christmas Eve and spend the night. Nina and Laurent are fabulous cooks and we have a leisurely dinner, listen to Christmas music, play games and bask in the multi-colored glow of the Christmas tree. Even Hobiecat and Schooner are invited. We wake in the morning, have crepes and bacon and espresso and then open gifts. We curl our fingers around hot coffee mugs and tuck our feet under us and enjoy all that being a family involves. And one-by-one we depart in the early afternoon and slink back to our own beds for a long winter's nap.
That didn't happen this year. Some say it is because Laurent was sick and now that my parents are here we do not want to risk making them ill. My own personal suspicion is that no one wants me to twitter about them. Earlier this month at my mother’s birthday, I overheard someone mention they should all keep their mouths shut because everything they say could end up on my blog.
Honestly. Like I would do that.
So I spent last night alone. I opened a box that arrived from my friend, Kathy, in California. It contained several different kinds of English muffins. What a gold mine. I put most of them into the freezer and ripped open one package. I had an English muffin with a piece of cheese on it. I prepared this all by myself and didn’t even set the kitchen on fire. This morning I scraped some strawberry jam out of the bottom of a jar onto another toasted muffin. This would have been an okay Christmas morning breakfast except I didn’t have any coffee.
I planned to leave early enough to swing by Starbucks, but I ran late and had to stop at McDonalds. The coffee wasn’t bad and kept me warm on the hour’s drive down to Oregon. I picked up my mother and drove her to church. On Christmas, as you can imagine, it is crowded with people in bright red sweaters and dangling ornament earrings and warm smiles. We joined in the singing and then something awful happened.
It wasn’t my fault. It was the shoes.
I bought a pair of red Doc Martin shoes last month. They are gigantic and each weighs about 70 pounds. I can barely walk in them (but they are cute!) and they take up much more space than any of my other shoes. I had one foot in front of the other and just as the song ended and silence descended, I moved my forward foot back beside the other. Only I misjudged the amount of space I’d need for the enormous shoe and the heel of the moving shoe scraped down the ribbed heel of the other shoe. It created a shocking Fifffffft sound, like passing gas, right into the momentary silence.
Oh dear Lord.
People shifted away and the woman next to me took out a hanky and covered her nose, pretending she had to wipe it. Usually under such circumstances the only way out of the embarrassment is to recreate the noise so that everyone sees you do it. But how could I possibly recreate it? The pastor had already begun reading from the bible. I had to stand there and let people think, well, you know what they thought.
That was the longest Christmas service I’ve ever attended.
After church, my daughter drove in from Portland and Nina left her poor, sick husband and we met at the retirement center. Nina popped open a bottle of champagne before lunch. My dad started playing the harmonica and we tried to sing along. After a second glass of champagne, we noticed he’d begin one song, but end playing a different one. Hard to sing along with that. When it was time to go to lunch, my father put on a hat he’s had for years and tramped down to the half-filled dining hall and began playing Jingle Bells. All of the employees stopped and stared. Finally they began clapping along and singing.
That is my daughter and my father. Okay, so the long hair sticking out is actually attached to the hat.
We went back to my parent’s apartment and opened gifts. The only thing that prevented it from being a perfect Christmas was the absence of Laurent.
Well, that and the red shoes incident.