I've decided I'm going to start writing here as a form of a diary, because I'm not sure how else to do it. We'll see how this goes.
I spoke to my sister for nearly two hours, which was good because we haven't spoken in a few weeks, plus she is one of the people who knows me best and considering I have been feeling pretty lonely recently, I knew it would be good to talk. She rewarded me with the kind of gems I have come to cherish from her, including a story from their recent trip to church.
I am an atheist and so are my sister's two young boys, but my sister is Christian, or some version of it - I'm not sure if she knows herself exactly what she is, which I think is fine with everyone. She does however love going to church around Christmas and singing carols there, as well as setting out the nativity scene in their home, you know, things like that - she likes the rituals associated with the holidays and Christmas. Not that she doesn't believe in God the rest of the year too, because I'm pretty sure she does... but I'm getting off track. Back to the story about her visit to church.
Typically my sister attends a church that is a bit more formal, but on some occasions they attend another church, which will henceforth be known as "that hippie church."
Jen, my sister: They do a modern version of the Lord's Prayer. I can't remember how it goes, but it's been updated, to exclude words like "trespass."
Me: That sounds awful.
Jen: I know! It's like, just teach people what it means to trespass! You don't need to change the entire vocabulary because you think people won't understand! And when we first went in, they had this band there, and one of them had a guitar - a guitar! In church!
Me: (laughing) Well...
Jen: And there were puppets!
Me: (serious now) Puppets? That does sound odd.
Jen: And when they played the songs, it wasn't anything we knew... and she tried to make us clap! Like, clap along to the song!
Me: Oh, that's the worst.
Jen: I know! It's like, just play the damn song! We'll clap at the end when it's over!
Me: Yes, because then not everyone in the audience is clapping on the right beat...
Jen: I know. It's like in ice skating, when they try to make you clap.
Me: ...and then no-one really knows when to stop clapping, so it just peters out... it's embarrassing.
Jen: It IS embarrassing. (pause) But that wasn't all. There was (pause for emphasis) rapping.
Me: (laughing): I'm sorry... I'm just laughing at how you said that.
Jen: I mean, I don't have a problem with rapping. I like it just fine. But when you are a middle-aged white woman who is clearly just trying to be cool for the kids, it's just embarrassing.
Me: (serious once more) Oh! Oh no. Oh, no no no. I was imagining these as young people. That does sound bad.
Jen: (Sighs) Needless to say, we will be attending the OTHER church's service for Christmas, because they are not a bunch of hippies. There will be no puppets. There will be no rapping. And I don't know what version of the Lord's Prayer we will do, but it will not involve giving my neighbor a high-five. Or a low-five. Or a 'prayer-five,' which is something they made up that is really ridiculous.
Me: And how did the boys like it?
Jen: I couldn't see Robin, he was in the front. But I could see Eddie, and bless his heart, when I snuck a look at him during the part with the low-fives and prayer-fives he was looking at the vicar like this was the stupidest thing he had ever heard. And I thought, 'I love you so much right now.'
Jen: And Robin, he was in the front so I couldn't see his expression, only the back of his head, but I did see that when they gave out flags - yes, they gave out flags for us to wave, isn't that so silly - he waved his flag so hard he nearly took out half of the row sitting behind him.
The conversation continued that way for a while. Jenny always makes me laugh. She has the best commentary on things and does not usually interpret events or react to them in a way that I would expect, and paired with her wide-ranging vocabulary, this makes her a very entertaining person to listen to indeed.
I don't know, maybe it's just entertaining if you know her. But she always makes me laugh.
We caught up on other things as well - what the boys are into (Japanese samurai for Robin, lifeguarding and mountain-exploring for Eddie, Minecraft for both), how our mum is doing (she recently lost a best friend to cancer, which is pretty awful really), and what our plans for the holidays are.
She asked me if I was looking forward to the holidays. I let her know I am. I am, even though they will be filled with the same family stress that accompanies all such events; the strain of getting things organized and ready when it's something outside of the usual routine, and when you have two kids along to watch out. But that's a very "mom" answer, to focus on the things to worry about. It's also a very realistic answer. Then again, there are some who say our reality is shaped by our beliefs... and yada, yada, yada.
We stopped talking after a while as it was getting late for her (she lives in England), and I had things to do on my end - I still do.
I have to get a Christmas tree, get the groceries, get the apartment ready for the kids to come in. They get here tomorrow, and will stay for two weeks. I can't wait to see them. But I do have to get organized first.