Monday, December 26, 2011
On Christmas Eve’s eve, my brother was drinking beers at my house and we were making plans. Or rather, I was telling him what his plans were. “And then we’ll all go to mass dressed in identical white turtle necks and red sweaters that I am planning on knitting between now and 3pm tomorrow…”
Steve got a scrunched look on his face and said, “Uh, I don’t think we’re going to church tomorrow. Too much of a hassle.”
“What? That’s our tradition. It’s in HamannEggs Volume 1. We go to church Christmas Eve. It’s in the book. In the entry right before my first weepy New Years Eve post.”
He changed the subject to Star Wars. Shrewd. The next morning, Diana bailed on church by sweeping her hand over the filth that was our house. She would need all day to get the house ready for Christmas Eve guests.
A little later, I took Eljah to the liquor store. He’s a wiz at choosing spiced rum.
“Hey man, I think it’s just going to be you and me at Christmas church this year. What do you think of that?”
“Well. Sometimes I like to do things with you and sometimes I like to do things with mommy. And this time I think I want to NOT do something with you.”
I quickly explained that the only way Santa was coming to our house is if he went to Christmas Mass. Suddenly, Elijah got very religious. The fact that he would be able to wear a necktie was a bonus.
When we got home, we had exactly 3 hours before church time. Unfortunately, I had to prep my Christmas boeuf bourguignon, which takes 3.5 hours. I spent that time internally cursing Julia Child and externally cursing at anyone who dared disturb by kitchen.
Boeuf in the oven, I crammed Elijah into his tie and pants and we raced to Church. We were late (in Hamann terms, 5 minutes early is late) and couldn’t find a seat. An usher shoved over an elderly couple and made enough room for Eli to sit in my lap.
Having no memory of church, Eli was fascinated. And he was adorable. He stood on the pew and tried to sing along with the choir. He crept up the aisle to see the nativity play and actually tried to listen.
As I watched him in his little tie, I got welled up and thought, “We could do this every week. We could be church people. Just me and Eli. Two churchy guys churching it up, church style. Maybe he’ll become one of those athletes who are super religious. Like Tim Tebow. Yeah, he could be Tim Tebow. Throw a touchdown, take a knee, point heavenward.”
At that moment, Elijah turned to me and said so loud that it echoed off the holy walls, “Dad! I want to leave! And I don’t want to do this ever again!”
I quickly scooped him up and escaped through the side door. We walked up Washington Street to our car and I said, “You did a pretty good job, Eli. Let’s go wait for Santa.”