It's on these cold December days that we bundle up and sit by the fire and listen to the tales of old. So grab a warm or a strong drink and listen as I tell the tale told way too many times.
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, when my oldest child was a wee lass, her grandmother decided to ruin Christmas for her.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, this is impossible. Grandmothers wouldn't ruin Christmas. They live for that shit.
Well, well, well. You have never met my ex mother in law. You know, when women get older they start changing, no matter how many times someone tells them not to go changin'. They will still change because they no longer listen to people who tell them what or what not to do, even if they try to do it in a song.
At this point in their lives (usually after the children are grown - or, well, at any time really,) they have what is rather overly dramatically called a Mid Life Crisis. This is when women (and some men) start doing nutty things, like driving brightly colored cars, popping pills, having affairs, wearing inappropriate clothing and being too friendly with the kid's band teacher. You know what I mean.
My ex mother-in-law was no exception - except she fell in love with Jesus. Now you might think that falling in love with Jesus is better than falling in love with the kid's band teacher, but, sorry, you are wrong. There are no rules prohibiting a grown married woman from loving Jesus. I don't think it's even a reasonable excuse to divorce someone (what? She prayed too much?) ,No, I don't think that Jesus breaks up too many marriages and so he appears harmless. ) But the key word here is "appears."
You see, all of a sudden, on a day that started like every other, not only did she fall in love with Jesus (and all his overly made up and tearful disciples such as Jim and Tammie Baker) but she wanted all of us to love them too, and the idea of a love fest of any kind with my mother in law, her new television friends and new found savior was just a teensy bit weird, sort of like that time that my house was mistaken as a swinger's party venue. But that's another story for another day, don't you think? Yes.
So everything was moving along at a pace one can expect from the newly saved. There were barbecues with too much wine resulting in a mother-in-law crying over those who do not know Jesus. Now, it's true, I don't know Jesus, but I can imagine that he probably didn't appreciate a sobbing drunken woman recruiting on his behalf - although I must say, this approach almost worked on me because it was, as I remember, pretty good wine.
Anyway, I didn't really see the harm in all this, and to be honest, the parties, holiday dinners and barbecues started becoming a bit more interesting and drunken and you know, when you are with relatives, this doesn't hurt. But then she started "witnessing." If you don't know what witnessing (outside a court room ) is, let me tell you and make it quick. You go up to someone in a pubic place and ask them if they know Jesus (or any other entity I suppose although there don't seem to be any other otherworldly entities who seem to need this kind of campaign) or if you want to be a little sly, you can ask them if they have heard the good news. Then you telling the unsuspecting victim all about your beliefs. She started doing this everywhere. I stopped going to the restaurant ladies room with her because that was her favorite place to witness - I mean no one expects a witnessing in a rest room, do they? She'd strategically place herself between the sinks and the exit. She was a sly one. She really should have worked for the competition.
But then, because she I didn't join her new club, although I was more than happy to help her drink the Tears For Jesus Merlot, she considered that I might be on The Other Side. I don't think that idea bothered her as much as the notion that I might take my kids with me.
After my third child was born, I took my time having her baptized. Truthfully I only baptized the kids to shut the Grandparents up, and I figured what was the harm? Holy Water on the head. Cards with some money inside, dinner afterward. All good. But I wanted to wait until the baby was old enough so that her immune system could handle all those well meaning, yet germy relatives, before contacting the priest and setting the date. Apparently, we must never give Satan too much time to discover that someone didn't receive the holy water protection magic because he might use the opportunity to swoop down and take possession.
So one day, I left the baby with Grandma so I could go shopping and when I came back, she had baptized her using an oil and vinegar set ( a very fancy one, so it was rather catholic-church-like.) "I' decided to baptize the baby this afternoon! " she said. I tried to appear quite disinterested, not wanting to reward bad behavior. "Really? how'd you do that?" I said and she showed me. I was careful not to react and calmly reminded her that the real baptism was next Sunday.
Now I put all this aside because I didn't think this was anything to get upset about,until one day in December, when my oldest who was about 8 came home and said "Grandma said you don't believe in an old man in a red suit do you?" that I knew I had reached my limit. She told her there was no Santa, only Jesus. I don't blame my daughter for being upset. I mean anytime someone tries to combine/replace Santa with a religious figure, it is just plain creepy. Like this:
And by the way, what's wrong with a red suit?
He looks kind of fun. I'd invite him to my party. That changing water into wine trick could come in handy.
SO I did a little searching online and found that there is, apparently without my knowledge, quite a battle going on over this Jesus/Santa thing. But I say, can't we all just get along?
Anyway, everything turned out just fine in the end. The kids grew up, I got a divorce, I buy my own wine, and am careful not to drink to the point of witnessing, but, sadly, to this very day I can never look at an oil and vinegar set the same way again.
- Princess Stupidhead