Catholic


Church ladies.  The phrase makes me think of those ladies whose children have grown and moved out, they may have retired by now, and they most assuredly have gray hair.  The last is a requirement.

Garrison Keillor has immortalized them in loving memory. His Lake Woebegone tales have filled the airwaves and bookshelves for over 30 years now.  Saturday Night Live pilloried them unmercifully for several years.

Either way, my vision still works.  Older, perhaps a bit menopausal, and definitely gray hair.

But now I’ve been called a church lady.  I beg to differ!  I am a somewhat hip, forty something mother of two teens.  I can not be the church lady. I drive a minivan, Tweet, and still listen to the Violent Femmes (okay not often and not when the kids are in the car, but I could!) And while I have recently begun to do a bit of touch up hair coloring I am most definitely not going gray yet.

And who dumped this label on me?  The orthodontist.  I’m paying this man to adjust my kid’s teeth and he brands me with this.  Of course, it could have been because I was hitting him up at the same time for a donation to the annual church bazaar.

Of course, the bucket of Religious Education materials, or the bag of table linens needing to be washed that always seem to be in my car wouldn’t have a THING to do with it.  Perhaps it’s a look at my calendar that seems to fill every moment I’m not hauling children to dance or 4-H with a church item.

I think the topper was at the end of my father’s funeral a few weeks ago when the priest remarked that I had been ordered NOT to go into the kitchen and help.  I even got questioned by a 17 year old as to why I had stepped in there.  Really, I was just getting a glass of water for my mother.  Really, I wasn’t working!

I’m beginning a campaign to redefine this vision.  Church ladies can be fun.  Have you ever wondered why we’re all a little giggly in there? It’s because we occasionally have a bottle of wine just for us.  I mean it gets hot in there and we deserve a little treat.

So bring on the new, younger, hipper vision of the church lady.  Let’s live it up!  Now don’t forget the upcoming potluck I’ll have to check whether I’m on salad or main course, the First Communion reception is in May I need to get punch supplies and order the cake, oh I just remembered a bake sale is scheduled next weekend and I  really ought to bake something for that…..

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Being counter cultural has its benefits and its drawbacks. For my family as Catholics, Christmas starts on December 25. We then get to party hard until Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year that’s January 9. That’s 16 whole days! Even if I only push my chipper “Merry Christmas” until Epiphany that’s early January and still elicits slightly stunned looks from store clerks and restaurant wait staff.

Now I understand some of this, they’re burned out! I worked retail for more years than I’d like to count and have seen more than I’d like to admit. The utter grind of the Christmas season starts no later than Halloween and just seems to go on, and on, and on from there. For some customer to utter “Merry Christmas” just as these staff members are desperately trying to unload the clearance and grab few days off is almost obscene to their ears. Been there, done that and I get it. But that doesn’t change who I am. I’m just beginning my fun time and everyone else is ready to pack away their tree!

I say, give it one last fling and enjoy. The decorating is done, there are no more presents to buy, and everyone’s more relaxed. If you’re in school finals are probably done and at work hopefully the end of year statements are also.

I say let’s party like we’re happy God has come to us! Raise a toast to the newborn babe and celebrate the season because here comes Christmas and there are a whole lot of days to go!