Thursday, December 28, 2006

O Brother... Where Art Thou?

Christmas at the Bell home. There's nothing quite like it. We are an unusual family and the longer I am part of it, the more I look around and wonder just how the heck I ended up here.

Kidding. Really.

Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year and that meant we each went our separate ways to worship and then move through the day before gathering together by the fireplace (it is empty, by the way. I don't want you to conjure a picture of cozyness. It is rather chilly by the fire place. Which is still painted pink on the inside) and ripping into Christmas presents.

Dinner at Christmastime is not a big deal. Usually because family members are straggling in... the older brother pulling a fast one on his wife, who was sent out earlier... the younger brother still shopping, because he prides himself on shopping on Christmas Eve. I was coming from my part-time what-was-I-thinking-about-working-at-the-mall job and had huge anxiety that I would be the one holding up the festivities!

"Don't wait on me to eat."

"Don't worry. We won't"

Dinner is typically a honey-baked ham, some side dishes, etc. Light fare in comparison to the turkey we get for Thanksgiving. Mom had intended for it to be a simpler time this year than usual, but somewhere during the week, that just didn't pan out. We had meat and cheese trays with breads to make sandwiches, pasta salad, potatoe salad... and then somehow we also ended up with shrimp cocktail, three-bean dip and nachos, salsa, corn, mac & cheese and a pan of dumplings (for my younger brother requested it and therefore, it was)

We cleared the beautifully decorated dinner table of its impressive opulance and ate on red paper plates, coming and going as we pleased and enjoying each other's company tremendously. The annual event of making the children remove themselves from the room while "Santa" arrived continued as the 18, two 16 and 10 year old grumbled their way down the hall to wait for the Ho-Ho-Ho that would allow them to return to the carnage and begin passing out gifts.

We ho-ho-ho'ed and they staged a sit down strike. Apparently, it was beneath them now to be shifted from one spot to the other, and so we did what any family in the 21st century would do. We all pulled out our cell phones and sent them text messages on their phones saying "ho-ho-ho" and they laughed, skipped and frolicked their way back to the living room.

Okay, maybe not. But they passed out the gifts that were stashed under both trees (because in the redecorating scheme our house has taken, it was fun and easy to stash gifts that way) and began ripping into the presents with great enthusiasm.

Much joy was erupting in the Bell home and laughter filled the air. Mom, who thanks to the youngest of her children, has become an addict of The Amazing Race, set out to send her children on a race of their own for treasures galore... and left out the "this may be our last Christmas together" speech, for which we were all grateful, until we noticed the fine writing on the bottom of our instruction sheet, which reminded us it may be our Last. Christmas. Ever.

After Kim put a beating on the rest of us, and after John attempted to appeal a bad ruling, the kids headed out one way and the adults sat around visiting, arguing the outcome of the Amazing Race and generally ribbing each other with not-so-good-intent. John's present to Earl (which I am not at all upset over. Really) was tickets to the Music City Bowl where Kentucky will play Clemson on December 29. They will leave their beloved and only sister behind and bond together as men apparently do at a football game (while I will pray for bitter cold temps and rain) and eat hot dogs and gripe about referrees and coaching calls.

John will have his hands full, though, so I am not certain I will be too upset to miss this game. You see, Earl is not getting any younger. He recently celebrated his third year into his 50s (giggle) and we have advised him to begin filling out his AARP forms. He is not as observant as he once was.

Case in point: while sitting next to his only brother John (and I meaning sitting next to him on the couch. Not on the other end of the couch... but right next to him) Earl looked up and spoke the immortal Christmas 2006 words "Where is my brother?"

You could almost hear the Silent Night as we all looked at John. Then at Earl. Then looked at John look at Earl. And then see the light bulb flash over Earl's head as he looked at John. Silence was shattered by the uproar of laughter and hysterical tears flowed as we began to picture the two of them in a large football stadium... one stepping right behind the other asking passersby where his brother was.

Go Kats. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Single at Christmas

Ho, Ho, Heck!

It is not just me who is tired of being a single white female at Christmastime without the benefit of a significant other, a boyfriend, a fiancee, or a husband. Heck, at this point in my life, I am not even sure he would have to be that significant! But my friend Requelle had an enjoyable time not too long ago, and being in the same single boat that I am in, allows me to empathize with her... feel her pain... and share her story of how much is stinks to be single in this day and age.

A week or so ago, Requelle was at her home, curled up with her two pooches and enjoying a quiet evening. As the night progressed, our heroine found herself in the bathroom and noticed that her toilet was leaking a little bit. It being rather late at night, and knowing it was not a good time to locate a plumber (and not having the aforementioned "handy man" available) Requelle did what any red blooded, sophisticated woman would do... she turned off the water supply and promptly curled herself back up in the recliner and fell asleep (pooches most likely snuggling close by).

She awoke sometime later and knew that she needed to head to bed. Upon entering her bedroom, she heard and felt an unfamiliar squish in her carpet, turned on the lights, focused her keen hearing on an unrecognizable sound and realized immediately that a water pipe had burst.

"What the...?"

Taking the next appropriate steps, she called the water company to find out what she needed to do that this point (other than curse the weak-minded men of the world who have yet to know their life would be so much more complete with her in it) and they told her they essentially didn't have a clue what to do, because apparently water pouring through the bathroom and into your bedroom carpet (and subsequently the subfloor) is not enough to warrant an emergency.


Having given up on the experts at the water company, our heroine pulls out the yellow pages to search for a 24 hour plumber. Two and a half hours later (and about five or six different calls), she finally locates a company whose 24 hour man is currently in Spring Hill, Tennessee... and when you have water pouring through your house in Old Hickory, Spring Hill is an equivalent distance as oh, say, Baghdad. Said plumber arrives at about 3:30 a.m. and lectures our heroine about water pressure and how surprised he is that this had not occurred before.

Thankfully, 'tis the season for niceness and his cost was only about $200 for helping out our heroine who realized that her Knight in Shining Armor is still traipsing around the Scottish lochs somewhere fighting off the dragons that have kept him away from her.

Our Knight needs a GPS system with the appropriate coordinates.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

... my doctor gave to me...

Let's hear it for our health care professionals, shall we? It was just this time last year that I was reminded of what wonderful people they are as I sat in the emergency room of the local hospital on Christmas Day, because my back had gone out and I could neither sit nor stand. I was grateful for all the people who were working to ease the pain and problems of those of us who are older now... as my younger brother enjoyed reminding me...

I had every intention of treating my ER visit as if I were going to a walk-in clinic. That was not to be. Apparently the ER is attached to a bona fide hospital, which meant that I had to get a wristband and wear one of those oh-so-lovely hospital gowns they give you.

"Really?" I told Nurse Ratchett. "I only need to be here long enough to get a prescription for relief."

"Yes. Really." End of discussion.

After peeing in a cup (what is it about me that I have done that more in a 12-month period of time than I have done in the last twelve years combined?) I struggled back into regular clothing and waited for my prescription. I left $100 at the door and ho-ho-ho'ed my way to the only pharmacy open that day, where I left more good monetary cheer on the counter and trekked home to the warmth and comfort of my bed.

I had no intention of repeating this episode this year. And... while I am giving thanks... I am thankful that I do not have any back problems to currently moan and complain about.

But assuming that the 12 Days of Christmas is a countdown to Christmas Day... today would be approximately the Sixth Day (depending on your location in the universe) and instead of having six geese a-laying (arguably a messy problem) I have a conglomerate of sinus/respiratory issues. And so, I have continued my Christmas tradition of monetarily supporting my local health care provider (namely Dr. Brad Rudge) and whisked myself to his office this morning spouting the following phrase:

"Fix me, Dr. Brad... I'm broke!"

I typically tell this to Dr. Brad and he typically laughs at me, and then he typically gives me a prescription, and I typically get better. This year's mantra was followed quickly by, "I don't want to be sick for Christmas".

Dr. Brad laughed at me. Laughed. At Me. Told me he's hearing that from a lot of patients. And then he laughed again. At me.


No, actually, Dr. Brad isn't hateful at all. Dr. Brad is a wonderful, caring, Christian physician that I am fortunate to call my friend as well as my doctor. He and his wonderful family served with me for a number of years in a completely giving fashion during all the productions I worked while on staff at Two Rivers Baptist Church. Dr. Brad has even seen a couple of family members and a friend or two, whom I have thrown his way.

I recently asked Dr. Brad if I could get a discount on my visits to him since I send him so much good business. He laughed at me again. When he finished laughing, he just kept smiling, and said no.


So, apparently on the Sixth Day of Christmas, I got four prescriptions and a Merry Christmas from my physician.

I consider it money well spent.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Joy to the World...

... blah, blah, blah.

Do you ever wonder what God finds funny? I think there are a lot of things that give Him true humor, and I am fairly certain that I am one of those funny things. Especially at Christmas. Especially for a specific reason. Especially this past Sunday.

You see, I hate the song "Joy to the World". Yes. I know. I am not the normal, All-American girl that I appear. I understand this. I think if the world could embrace my "not-normalness", the rotation of the earth on it's axis would be just that much smoother. But no. I am not normal. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I was born and raised in Tennessee and hate all things orange and white. I am not a UT fan. I am an anti-UT fan. I hope that everyone who plays against UT in everything will win! Including ladies field hockey or their chess team! (Do they have a ladies field hockey team? I don't know... I just hope they lose.) When they play another team I don't support, like Arkansas, I hope that something odd happens and both teams lose. I'm vindictive like that.

Who is my favorite team? Kentucky Wildcats. Why? Because I was raised right.

2. I hate pot roast. Yes, America. I hate pot roast. I ate pot roast every Sunday after church my entire young life. I never liked it. Finally, at the age of 18, I emancipated myself from eating foods that I did not like. I was an adult. I did not have to clean my plate. I did not have to eat pot roast ever again, if I didn't want to. And I don't. Green peas went on the list with pot roast as most despised food. Some people see this as an act just below the level of communism. I disagree. I will eat hot dogs at a ball game and apple pie, and I've owned two Chevys in my life. I am just as American as the next American. But, I won't eat pot roast. Now, when I go somewhere (like a funeral wake) where there are 14 different versions of pot roast, I happily walk right past it to the dessert table. And smile.

3. I don't like country music. No, it doesn't matter that I have lived almost my entire life right outside of Country Music, USA. I still don't like it. No, it doesn't matter if country music has come a long way, baby... I don't like country music. I once tried to like country music because a guy I was dating liked country music, and I wanted to impress him. I ended up with a bad case of heartburn... probably from all the country music that flowed into my pores. And it doesn't matter that Nicole Kidman married a country music artist. I will go see her movies, but I won't listen to his music. Why? Because I don't like country music.

Southern Gospel music fits this category as well, because to me, it is just country music with nicer lyrics. Well, they are usually nicer. They can be silly. But they are uplifting. Case in point was the song that a quartet did at my church this past Sunday. The basis of the song was to be more giving. But what did I really remember about the song? That somebody's pappy told somebody's uncle Sam that the corn he was picking from the garden would make a good supper.

I'm. Not. Kidding.

4. I hate the song "Joy to the World". I really, really don't like it. It doesn't really matter if the arrangement is different. It can be very "high church" or it can be jazzed up. I still won't like it. It can be sung by a black gospel choir, or by Mariah Carey. I still won't like it. And yes, I don't care for it even as an instrumental piece. Why? Because I think that Joy to the World is the "Chopsticks" of Christmas songs. It has that same choppy feel to it. Anyone can bang it out on the piano, and it still feels choppy. It grates on the nerves and gives me a headache.

Everyone knows my disdain for this song. Choir members apologize to me when they know we have to sing it in church. One year... one brief Christmas season, my friend the Right Reverend Dean, who was Minister of Music at the time, went an entire holiday season without singing that song. Not even once. He did it for me and I loved him for it. I think I told him often how much it meant to me that he would go the extra mile and not plan that song for one entire Christmas season.

This year is making up for that wonderful season. Are we singing the mass/choral/jazzed version next Sunday night in our Christmas program? Yes we are. Did the strolling carolers at the mall on Saturday stand right in front of me and sing three verses of it? Yes, they did. Did I make my return to the praise teams this past Sunday morning? Yes I did. Did I have to sing all four verses of this song? Yes. I. Did. Was I happy about it? Not so much.

Why? Because after I sang said four verses of Joy to the World, I had to sing backup for the men's quartet who sang about giving Pappy's good corn away to Uncle Sam, who, I am certain, ate well that night.

Yep. I'm pretty sure the Lord was on His throne getting a good chuckle out of me on Sunday, and that's okay... 'Tis the season...