Saturday, December 25, 2010


This is a photo of the qiviut scarf I knit for Gary's mom for Christmas. Since she's opened the package, I can now post the photo!

I've already started knitting for next Christmas. Thank God for knitting, which carried me through a fairly joyless holiday. Last night we went out for dinner to our favorite restaurant, and it was nice, but somewhat subdued. The two highlights were Gary telling me that he'd always wanted to go on a cruise but never thought he'd get the chance because it's so decadent -- I didn't know it meant that much to him! -- and seeing two friends who were also eating dinner there.

We came home. I hung out and knitted for an hour or so before heading off to church. Somehow, although I can't quite figure out how from the timing, I missed a phone call from the ER in town where I don't volunteer. A bereaved relative had asked for pastoral care and they didn't have anyone there, so they were cold-calling anybody who might be able to help; somehow one of the nurses had gotten my number from an old church friend. I'd have gone if I'd known about this -- although I don't know if they'd still have wanted me once they learned I'm not clergy -- but I only got the voicemail message tonight.

My heart aches for the poor soul begging for pastoral care after a death on Christmas Eve. Horrible. I hope the hospital found someone. (flask, if you're reading this, I thought of you.)

But I didn't get the call -- maybe we got home right after they'd left the message? -- so instead I knitted and headed off to church, where my old deacon wasn't part of the service after all. He starts January 1. I sat with him, his wife, and their daughter, the reporter who did the lovely story on the closing of St. Stephen's. It was a nice service, but it was longer than we're used to, and it wasn't home. Someday it will feel like home. I just have to keep showing up.

I slept in this morning and headed off mid-morning to the ER where I do volunteer. It was a pleasant, low-key shift; I'm glad I was there, and I think at least a couple of patients were, too. No codes, thank goodness. I had a nice chat with One of My Favorite Nurses, who suggested that we and our husbands go out to dinner sometime. That would be great fun, and I hope it happens.

I also had a good conversation with the head staff chaplain, who was working today, and who said that the ER has very high rates of patient satisfaction with spiritual care. So those of us who work there (and several other volunteers, not to mention the staff chaplains, put in significantly more hours than I do) must be doing something right. The medical staff's very aware of spiritual issues, too, if only because there are often chaplains underfoot.

I came home, had a rather disjointed conversation with my sister, who didn't sound much more overjoyed with the holiday than I was, and settled down to knit and listen to my audiobook of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The reader chews the scenery -- why do people who read children's books have to ham up their performances so much? -- but it was still fitting for Christmas. This time around, I was newly struck by the scene where Aslan, walking to the stone table with Susan and Lucy, asks them to put their hands in his mane to comfort him. That's such a poignant detail. Even though I'm now hyper-aware of how Lewis is retelling the Passion, I like how he handles Gethsemane and Easter morning. The two girls stay awake; they stay with Aslan for as long as they can, and they watch what follows even when they can hardly stand to look at it, and -- just as in the Gospels -- the Daughters of Eve are the first witnesses of the resurrection.

So there you have it: a somewhat dull, sad, Christmas, but certainly there were very nice moments and a lot of reminders to be grateful.

And now to bed.


  1. It is a funny thing about Christmas. As adults we we look forward to the season and enter into the decorating and planning and cooking. When the big day arrives all we really want to do is get through it without anyone having a meltdown. At the end of the day someone, for sure, will say, "now we can get back to normal". Whatever the heck normal is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we place such importance and have such expectations of one single day of the year? I'm glad you got through okay and hopefully next year will go a little better and you can get away and just forget that it is Christmas. Do they have "nonChristmas" cruises for those who would rather not bother?

  2. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Dear Susan,

    Happy day after Boxing Day!

    I'm sorry to hear your Christmas had its dull and sad aspects, glad to hear it also had its nice moments - and very glad to know that it went off without any new family trauma or tragedy.

    Here's wishing you a happier new year,



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