Christmas Perfect


Christmas Perfect

The little country church we attend doesn't have enough kids old enough to do a full fledged kids' Christmas program this year. Because most of the children are still preschoolers, we opted to act out a portion of the Christmas story during the children's story section of the morning worship service on Dec. 23. I found enough costumes for some miniature shepherds, angels, and Mary. We were fortunate enough to be able to have a real, live baby Jesus, a one month old who just happens to be named Trinity.

Sunday morning arrived. I already knew we were minus a shepherd and angel because of a stomach bug. Another little shepherd was rerouted to Grandma's house when his mom, a registered nurse, got called in to work. We were down to two shepherds, two angels, Mary, and baby Trinity.

I helped the kids put on their costumes before the worship service. One little one decided she wanted to be a sheep, but I told her that wasn't an option. “Why?”, the puzzled three year old asked. “I only have people costumes,” I told her.

One of our shepherds, Josiah, is a three old who lives with autism. I'd sent his costume home with his mom the week before so he could get used to wearing it. He showed up Sunday morning with it on, but, sure enough, by children's time, he'd shed it. I've baby sat him enough to know that with autism, it's best to leave conventional expectations behind and prepare to be surprised.

One, by one, the kids took their places; Mary with baby Jesus, two shepherds, the first angel.

Up bounded our un-costumed shepherd, hands clutching an open church choir book in his hands. He landed front and center, followed by his 18 month old “angel” sister just as the narrator read “Suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to men.”

The congregation joined the children in singing “Away in the Manger.” Josiah sang the loudest, blue eyes shining. The other little shepherd lost her crook. The littlest angel's halo slipped to one side as she toddled back and forth behind Mary and the baby Jesus.

I felt the magic and caught my breath. This little nativity scene, unrehearsed and incomplete, was absolutely, 100 % Christmas perfect.

Putting Away Summer


Putting Away Summer


The frost on the picnic table last week told me it’s no longer time to just think about putting away summer.

Part of putting away summer is retiring the sandals, shorts and tank tops and replacing them with sweatshirts, turtlenecks and socks. Switching wardrobes isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Every year for the last several years that middle age spread spreads a little farther over the top of the pants that fit last year, even though I haven’t gained any weight (well, not that much). One positive about winter clothes is their bulk camouflages those bulges.

Another positive aspect of switching wardrobes in these middle years is that I’ve forgotten about some of that stuff and so it’s like getting new clothes without spending any money. My rancher likes the part about not spending any money.

The pile that doesn’t fit goes in the tote designated for the church rummage sale. It would be nice to replace what doesn’t fit with something a little more stylish. The problem there is that while my brain is thinking “Style”, my body is screaming “Comfort!” Alas—I’ll probably never own a pair of black leather pants. When they would have looked good on me, I couldn’t afford them. Now black leather wouldn’t bankrupt me, but it would make me look like one of those aging motorcycle mamas I saw too many of on their way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Thankfully, my midlife crisis isn’t that severe.

Ranchers don’t own summer and winter clothes. “Good” shirts and jeans and “everyday” shirts and jeans fill my rancher’s closet. “Good” shirts are fairly new with no holes or stains. “Everyday” shirts were demoted from “good”, or came in a box of castoffs from the city relatives. (He’s the only I guy I know of outside of the Ralph Lauren commercials that checks cows wearing designer shirts.) By fall, his clothes get so full of grease and manure stains, that putting away summer means deciding which are still “everyday” and which are rags. At Christmas, he gets a new supply of good shirts and so the cycle continues.

There isn’t a whole lot more to say about his wardrobe. I suppose the space in this column devoted to his and hers is representative of the closet space in many farm and ranch homes along the 100th Meridian.

September 2003