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Tuesday, 12.28.04: Holly Jolly Christmas

The laugh-line of the week was my father turning to me and saying: "You know, I haven't heard a single Christmas song this year."

My father has bad hearing. And I'm sure no one can remember the last time he was in a supermarket or mall -- those bastions of Christmas carol aggression. The line struck me also because only two weeks earlier, he had seemed determined to to hear in person those heavenly hosts sing alleluia.

That was our Christmas song: watching Walter take a U-turn at the pearly gates. No one is sure what malady had him in its grip, pulling him out of this world. And no one is sure what exactly caused the turnaround, except for a lucky decision to start him on prednisone. Maybe he just wasn't ready for all that sleeping in heavenly peace. Over the course of our 10 days in St. Louis he emerged from his cocoon of helplessness to take up the daily challenges of eating, drinking, dressing, ambulation, and interacting with the world. Maybe that angel from It's a Wonderful Life paid him a visit.

In other Christmas delights, my nephew Brendan hobbled around on crutches, successfully recovering from having an automobile come to a screeching halt on his ankle. Don't call me Tiny Tim!

At the St. Louis University High's talent show, Brendan's older brother Patrick juggled fire -- a precocious freshman and my poster boy for sheer determination in overcoming learning disabilities.

At the same talent show, my nephew Trey shocked and delighted his family by singing and dancing. Here was a quiet boy demonstrating what confidence 4 years in a all-boys Jesuit high school can instill. My sister had never heard him sing -- but there he was, in a pink boa, sequined glasses, and satin shirt, belting out a rock song that required an impossible falsetto. He had all the moves of a star.

We really didn't need trashy Christmas songs. Our holly jolly Christmas was more like Easter, full of new life and hope.


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