Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holy Week Countdown

Last Sunday in Advent. Today we have the Christmas pageant, when all the children will restlessly tug at their home-made costumes -- angels in pink and lavender and stable animals that include assorted jungle creatures. Some children sing off key, others shout, but they do it so enthusiastically.

Tonight we have our Parish dinner which brings our parish together once a year, flung out in all parts of the city as it is.

Then afterward we will light our Advent wreath for the last time and my kids will fight over who gets to light which candle, then they'll try to outdo each other extinguishing the flames with their thumb and forefinger -- inevitably someone gets burned -- and I read the last portion of Luke's gospel while they fidget. Whoever said ritual sinks in at some level I sure hope is right.

This week, we'll put up the tree. Since the outdoor electrical outlet is not working, we're foregoing the outside lights. I've never liked fiddling with them anyway.

Besides, there's someone around the corner from us who is making up for our dearth of exterior illumination. This family has mastered the art of loud, tacky and cheap -- which is wonderful in its plastic way. While Santa (a couple of them, in fact) cavort madly down the banister rail, and a string of multi-coloured lights rim the front yard and the 6-foot reindeers, the whole of it surrounds a 10-foot manger scene with plastic interior-lit Mary and Joseph around the manger with Jesus. There's even a donkey.

There is NO WAY you can ignore this utterly tasteless spectacle -- a little like the street corner evangelizer who may or may not be an outpatient of the psych ward but who is nonetheless shouting out that Jesus is Lord! And every year, I look forward to seeing it put out -- Christmas in our neighbourhood wouldn't be the same without it.

These are exactly the bizarre and grotesque touches so common in Flannery O'Connor's work, who said you must shout so they hear.

May we all be so enlightened.

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