26 December 2006

Best. Christmas. EVER.

The nave of the chapel at Epiphany Parish, Seattle.
Beautiful church, charming pageant, saucy parishioners.
What's not to love?


Merry Boxing Day! If I were British - or Canadian (...that's "British Lite". -Ed.) - I'd be wrapping up some cock-a-leekie soup for the charwoman, or putting a shilling in my knickers for a blessing from St. Heiner. Or something like that. I'm sure my British constituency will correct me.

But speaking of holiday traditions, Teresa and I did the unthinkable on Christmas Eve morning. We went to church! I thought it might be a laff riot to go see a children's Christmas pageant, so I rummaged around on the InterWebs to see if there was one we might crash. And lo, the InterWebs didst reveal that a children's Christmas pageant shone 'round about Epiphany Episcopal Parish at 9:30AM, and even provided a map to show me the way there. (It is my confirmed opinion that online mapping services should be outlawed inasmuch as they enable people like me to crash children's Christmas pageants, and should be therefore likewise be regarded as a Tool of Satan.)

So we donned our gay apparel and made our way there with plenty of time to spare. Epiphany Parish, as it turns out, is a stunningly beautiful turn-of-the-century church with a parochial school attached and a very young and joyful congregation. The minister, Father Conklin I believe, greeted us warmly at the door, and asked us if we had children in the pageant. I said no, which prompted him to ask again, very politely, just exactly what the H we were doing there. Several smartass replies sprang to mind, such as "reviewing the show for The New Yorker" or "prowling". But instead I told the truth. I said that my father was an Episcopalian minister, that I was raised Episcopalian, and even though I had converted to Buddhism years ago, I still celebrated Christmas. It's one of those answers that makes the querist's brain lock up, as Father Conklin's did, freezing his smile just long enough for me to see his teeth go completely dry. He said Merry Christmas, I guess, and we took a seat.

The pageant was a scream. The Angel Gabriel had to read her lines from out of her sleeve, which meant that she didn't have an extra hand to keep her halo from falling down over her eyes repeatedly, which also made the whole thing a sort of Sysyphean proposition for the poor girl. The dozen or so toddler-aged heavenly hosts seemed befuddled at the birth of the Christ Child and needed to be prompted - LOUDLY - from the pulpit to rejoice, which they then expressed by frenzied bouncing. And at the curtain call, the Virgin Mary held her infant son high above her head and made him bow to all four corners of the sanctuary. Best. Christmas. Pageant. EVER. We wept with joy.

But the thing that made me really love this congregation was the Wassail party in the congregation hall afterward that featured two bowls of Wassail. One of them was completely inocuous but the other was fortified with The Blood Of Our Lord And Savior John H. Daniels to turpentine-like strength. A napkin was placed next to it with a simple caveat pencilled on it for potential meddlers: wArnIng - AlcOhol! I guess it's true what the holy scriptures said about Episcopalians: where there's four, there's a fifth. Even though I don't drink, I seem to enjoy people who do. And of those who do, I enjoy those most who do it most brazenly. Epiphany Parish seems to have beauty and brass in equal measure, and I may just adopt it as my Christian holiday venue of choice.

Afterward, Teresa and I donned our Seahawk apparel and went to the Blessed Sanctuary of The One True Religion to watch the Seahawks host the San Diego Chargers. It was a very exciting game, but heartbreaking nonetheless. Our beloved Seahawks came from behind in the third quarter only to be vanquished in the last 30 seconds of the game. The loss was made that much more poignant by the incredible effort that the Seahawks put forth to beat the team that is arguably the best in the NFL right now. The upside is that because our division rivals the San Francisco 49ers lost that day, we're still in the playoffs. Not exactly the way you want to get into the playoffs, mind you, but we'll take it anyway. We'll just have to wait and see what the future will bring. Go Hawks.

The rest of the holiday was spent gorging myself on candy until I was blue-in-the-lips from insulin shock (...he kids. But not much. -Ed.), so my memory is spotty. I'll have to piece the events together from the tears in my clothing, the angry voicemails on my telephone, and the numerous warrants stapled to my front door. I'll write again when I have a clearer picture.

Cheers and Merry Christmas,


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