Friday, December 26, 2008

Leaving the Christ in Christmas

Hello, all 3.68 of my faithful readers! How was your Christmas? Mine was a typical Famous Hat Christmas, which is another way of saying it was WONDERFUL! As usual, I sang at my church, then the Lutheran Church, then there was fruit soup and champagne at the Lutheran choir director's house, and then I fell into bed at 3:30 and dragged myself back out of it at 7:30 to go to Christmas Day Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Sobriety. For some reason, our choir director there decided that what we really need to do every year after a long night of singing is extremely difficult music, so we sang the glorious "Hodie" by Sweelinck with one or two people on a part (since it has two soprano parts - hey, at least for once I get to sing in my own range!). Not only that, but hardly anyone was at Mass in the morning, so we were singing long after everyone had gone through line for Communion and the priest had sat back down. That's OK, they can spend that time in prayer. I did think it was amusing that this year we also sang the Praetorius "Psallite Unigenite" for Offertory because when you can barely think in English, why not sing in both Latin AND German, a language I can barely pronounce while working at full brain power!

I suppose it was fitting that we sang a macaronic piece, since we had lasagne for dinner and that's something like macaroni. As usual I made my cassata and a huge bowl of eggnog and, as always, both were well-received. Rich Bonomo hosted dinner, as always, and as always the tree got decorated Christmas Day. Like last year, as I was driving to his house on Christmas Eve, I saw one of my crazy neighbors had thrown away a perfectly beautiful tree, so I rescued it (with some help from my kind nextdoor neighbors) and brought it to Rich's. His guest Mr. Why, who used to be his roommate, then put all the decorations on the tree before putting on the lights, so to this very moment it remains unlit. He also decorated in blocks, so that all the silver ornaments were at the top, all the gold ones were in the center area, the blue ones were in the lower left, and the red ones were in the lower right. This is a typical maneuver on the part of Mr. Why, and it had the added delightful effect of totally baffling my Archirritant, who apparently did not realize that Mr. Why had done this on purpose. When she told him that he should not have the colors segregated like that, another party goer noted that it could be the George Wallace Christmas Tree. As always, my Archirritant with her 180 IQ was the only one who didn't get that joke; not that she doesn't know who George Wallace is, or his connection to segregation, but she seriously is missing some kind of humor gene so that the only things she finds funny are anecdotes she relates that leave the rest of us bemused. This is what happens when someone tells a joke: everyone else laughs, she waits a beat to make sure we are laughing, and then she laughs raucously. (She is generally raucous, and rapacious too! She's like an entire flock of macaws stripping a pecan grove of fruit, except that she is not in any way lovely to look at.) Sometimes, just to add to her ridiculousness, she tries to prove that she understands what is so funny, thus proving that in fact she doesn't get the joke at all. A classic example from a Christmas past: her ex-husband, who is an atheist Jew (but also comes to Rich's house every Christmas - seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried!) made a crack about his greasy thumb, and I laughed, so Archirritant laughed and said, "That's funny because Ex-Mr. AI bakes a lot!" Now let me just state that Ex-Mr. AI is a FABULOUS baker, as evidenced by the cake he made for AI's birthday per my post on that subject. (The word I hear from Kathbert and Anna Banana 2 is that AI hoarded this cake, after she had made a big fuss about not being able to eat it, and didn't let anyone have seconds so that she could take home what was left - nearly half the cake - and eat it herself!) Anyway, back to XMAI's greasy thumb: I was puzzled and said, "Oh... I thought he was making a crack about being Jewish." XMAI concurred that, in fact, he was making a Shylock-themed joke. XMAI is not particularly PC, and he has a dry wit and is as charming to be around as his ex-wife is excruciating.

A friend of ours I'll call "Florita," an exuberant little Mexican lady, was visiting from upstate; she used to live in town but on Monday will be moving to the same west coast state as Mr. Why, though they will be across the state from one another. Florita, Mr. Why, and I dropped in on the Lutheran choir director, who was having dinner with Kathbert and two other guests, a very sedate gathering as opposed to Rich's chaotic party with over a dozen people at the dinner table and more people coming and going all night long. We sang a Christmas carol, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," but we could only sing the chorus because Florita doesn't know the words to the verses in English. (Not sure she knows them in Spanish either, or Latin, for that matter.) Mr. Why, who variously tells us that he is from French Canada, Singapore, or Transylvania, but who is clearly ethnically some flavor of Chinese, introduced himself as a Japanese exchange student named Yoshi, but Kathbert and I blew his cover. Since Florita had parked illegally, we couldn't stay too long, so we headed back to Rich's house, and then Mr. Why took off to visit "The Octopus," the friendly neighborhood letch. He asked if I wanted to go, but I didn't feel the need for a Merry Christmas fondling, so I told him to just tell The Octopus that I said hi. (Mr. Why was safe, since The Octopus is many things, but he is extremely heterosexual.)

As every conversation at Rich's inevitably must do, this one led to a perusal of the dictionary. This came about because AI, who is the "foremost authority" (in what? you may ask, and I reply that she does not specialize) was going on about the Koreans having a day to celebrate their alphabet, and I said that was a great idea, why didn't we have an Alphabet Holiday? (Preferably as a paid holiday, since I am a state employee.) (But I truly am quite fond of the alphabet; see my post on being a hopeless word puzzle game addict.) AI said something about our alphabet coming from the Phoenicians, and Cecil Markovitch said no wonder it's a phonetic alphabet, if it's a Phoenician alphabet. AI was quite insistent that the two words were unrelated, since "phonos" is "sound" in Greek, so I said maybe the Phoenicians were very noisy people. (In which case, maybe AI is a Phoenician!) So we looked up the etymology of "Phoenician" in the dictionary, and of course it said the etymology is uncertain.

The fun had to end at some point, since I had to work today, so I went home to my little creatures and finally put up my "tree," which is a black cast iron rack for storing pots or plants or what have you. It is vaguely cone-shaped, so I wrapped my Christmas lights around it. Voila, a tree! The animals were singularly unimpressed, but they were happy with their Christmas treats.

Famous Hat


Hardingfele and Tailor said...

Famoushat's cassatta was scrumtuous (I was left a piece of what was consumed at Rich's). I think she should post the recipe on this blog sometime. Is Kari counted as a 0.68 of a reader, because she is not full grown.

Famous Hat said...

Thanks, Hardingfele! The 0.68 is actually supposed to be a mathematical average, but of course it's a guesstimate. Math was never my best subject. I will post the cassata recipe today.