I'm Just Saying…

December 16, 2015

A Little Twisted Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of appreciating the good fortune and wonder of this life. It’s a happy time of festivities and joyous celebration. One is surrounded by friends and loved ones, feeling as if they belong and all is right with the world.

Yeah. Whatever.

For myself, the holiday has come to symbolize a very special moment; the moment I realized  that while not everything is wrong,  things aren’t quite — right. Something is always slightly askew, off kilter, out of place.

All the time.

And it’s gonna stay that way.

Let me explain what happened…

I am 19 years old, attending the yearly Christmas Cantata at our local church. The auditorium twinkles with a sense of gravitas and magic, the house of worship dotted with holly and ivy. Decorative iron stands with red ribbons are strategically placed on each side of the center aisle. At the top of each stand sits a single candle. The scene is set for a celebration of the babe in the manger, complete with live farm animals.

The church is packed. The parishioners are bedecked in their finest attire (something I don’t think the Holy Foundling concerns himself with but who am I to say? I know nothing).

An usher seats my mother and me at the end of the pew. I have the aisle seat. I glance around, taking in the elegant bacchanalia as the orchestra and choir file out As the conductor raises his baton and the chorus of melodious voices rises in unison, I exhale and slip out of my coat. I feel a rush of relief course through my body. The evening will take place without incident.

Silent night, Holy night…

And then…

Out of the corner of my eye, I see them. The usher manhandling a small, wizened man down the aisle. He’s a cross between Bilbo Baggins and Mr. Magoo; and he’s trouble. I can tell.

All is calm, All is bright…

“I don’t wanna sit here,” Bilbo says.

I direct my Jedi mind trick at the usher. That’s right, you don’t. I need to seat you somewhere else.

“Sure you do,” the usher responds, shoving the senior citizen into the pew, forcing me to scoot over. To this day I think he tripped the old man into the seat. Seriously.

I think to myself: Jedi mind trick my ass.

So there I am, sitting next to my little Medicare Man as he huddles in his coat, hat in hand, literally.

My participation in the celebration now consists of the following inner monologue: DO NOT LOOK AT HIM. DO NOT LOOK IN HIS DIRECTION.

Round yon virgin, mother and child…

I hear mumbling.

I feel him lean in.

What am I supposed to do? Ignore him?

What would Jesus do?

I turn. I look.

“My wife, oh my wife. I ‘d like to kill her, my wife.”

I nod. As the choir carries on in song, I do a recon of the sanctuary. Anyone else being terrorized at the yearly commemoration of the birth of our Lord and Savior?

Nope. Just me.

Holy infant, so tender and mild…

I spend the next two hours listening to the chorus on stage AND the chorus next to me.

“My wife, I want to kill her, you know. I just want to kill her.”

Sleep in heavenly peace…sleeep in heavenlyyyyy peeeeaaaace.

So I went to a simple celebration of the Christ Child and there I received a sign.  I’m on the wrong side. Of what you may ask?

Everything. Whatever it is, it’s NOT going to work out.

On the ride home I relate the ramblings of Bilbo to my mother. “And the only thing missing from his tirade was ‘It came to me…my love…my precious…'”.

“He was mentally ill,” she said.

“Yes,” I cried. “And he was sitting next to me! Why do these things always happen to me?”

My mother sighs.

Oh, oh I see. Yup. Second generation, carrying on the tradition.

Fa la la la la, la la, la, laaaaa.

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