The Dearest Month in All the Year…

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December Twenty-Sixteen (Correct!)

Hello again, My Dears.

Quick shout-out to whoever got the Mr. Fezziwig reference from the Albert Finney rendition of A Christmas Carol. I don’t actually cherish December more than the other months – it’s a’ight – but subjectively speaking for the particularly trying year of 2016, December was probably the high point.

As promised, here is the CliffsNotes version of my month of December.

  • I began to realize that I’d have to leave a few minutes earlier than anticipated any time I was driving anywhere, because there’s a good chance I’ll have to stop for a herd of cows, or slow my roll for a bunch of suicidal goats. You know you live in a rural area when…
  • It rained. A lot. Like, my chickens got their own above-ground pool for Christmas. It kind of put a damper on exploring the ranch’s ninety acres, or starting any hands-on projects in the great outdoors. But it’s given me a lot of time to master the woodstove, and my ability to quote Cool Runnings; “I’m freezin’ my Rastafarian nay-nays off.”
  • I volunteered at AYANA’s Comedy Night, held to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor-a-refugee program. There are few things more awkward than when the warm-up comedian doesn’t take into account the fact that the event was held on church property, and sex jokes were probably not the way to go for that particular audience. One of the few things that is more awkward than that though, is finding yourself sitting at a table with a bunch of seminarians when those jokes were being told.
  • My kick-ass friend decorated my place for Christmas when she heard I had no intention of doing so myself. (Cross-country moves make for empty pockets, and I was more concerned with feeding myself than hanging up mistletoe for the Christmas parties I wouldn’t be hosting in serial-killer country.) Needless to say I had everything I needed thanks to her – a tree, Mike’s Hard, and Die Hard.
  • I helped set up for a Winter Wonderland church fund raiser by taking a thousand bags of Halloween cob-webs and shredding them to make decorative “snow” piles. The result was less than exemplary, and left the place looking like a giant spider had the runs all over the lot. #notmyfault
    Anyway, the event was cancelled because of the previously mentioned downpours – which really made the snow look like spider sharts.
  • The best Christmas homily of all time was given by Fr. Michael J. Bazzi on Christmas morning. Those of you who were there know what I’m talking about. The entire church literally laughed out loud a couple of times.
    “Jesus was Chaldean. I’m not bragging, it’s the truth.”
  • Having insight into both American and Chaldean culture can provide a very broad and unique view of life sometimes. Some of the starkest contrasts can be seen from how Christmas is celebrated. My festivities started by having a nice, quiet, 7 o’clock dinner and stimulating conversation with American friends and family on the Eve of, and ended the following night with what was essentially Chaldean-clubbing until 2AM.
    Quiet, cozy brunch at a friend’s apartment, followed by crazy, crowded, food-gorging house-parties later on. This pattern was repeated for about a week until (finally) New Years passed.
  • I smile a little when I explain to Americans how Chaldean Mass marathons go during the holidays as well – between the two parishes in El Cajon, there are somewhere around 16 Masses for Christmas Eve alone. And each one allows me the opportunity to walk a few steps in the shoes of a canned sardine.

As was the case with November, there are one or two very noteworthy December events that are worth chronicling about separately, which I will do soon. Spoiler alert: one of them may involve a home-invasion made by a herd of cows…

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