Of course it's still the long Christmas weekend in the UK as Christmas/Boxing Day fell on a Sat/Sun and so Monday and Tuesday are holidays too. That stain isn't going to get looked at for a few days yet !
Over here in t'colonies, we had ham for our 'bird' on Christmas Day. No legs to pull, no dark meat/white meat to fight over and no wish bone to...make a wish over. There was enough for the 5 of us on the day and for the five of us to eat till 2011. It doesn't seem to matter if it's ham, turkey, duck, goose or bull elk, it seems there is always enough left over for soup and sannies every day till New Year. After that the curry sauce gets added for the last few meals and around January 3rd, we sigh collectively and look forward to something different for a meal. Anything but what we've eaten for the previous 10 days !
"Anyone fancy a bit of spam tonight ?"
"Oh sweet Jesus, YES PLEASE !!!"
We went to Mass on Christmas eve. Not exactly midnight Mass (come on, midnight is a time unknown in God's waiting room land) but at 5:30pm, close enough ! It was fun. A bunch of kids dressed up in appropriate costumes and did a sort of a take on the Nativity which involved an older kid asking each of the 'visiting' kids 3 key questions as they came down the aisle......
1) Who are you ?
2) Where are you from ?
3) Why are you here ?
A few kids claimed to have come from lesser known countries like Rome and Bethlehem but we didn't care. The cute little one dressed as an angel got lots of awwwww's, laughs and even applause when she answered question No.2 with.....Heaven. Kids eh ?
There is a part of the Mass where the priest says "let us give each other the sign of peace" and the idea is that we shake hands or hug or even kiss the people closest to us and say "peace be with you" or something similar. I'm not one for the hugging or kissing part and always settle for a firm manly handshake. Well, you never know who could be behind you ! Uncle Albert for one !
It's all a bit stressful for me and a few minutes before the words are spoken, I tend to sneak a look around me and mark out my targets. I don't want any old perv squeezing my hand a bit too eagerly and so I like to get an early glimpse of who to avoid and who to reach out for. I mean a 20 yr old hottie 3 rows back is fair game in my book and I'm not averse to a bit of a stroll to get my sign across ! Or my email address come to that.
Anyway on Friday, we were coming to that part of the Mass and I spotted a woman across from me getting out a bottle of that hand sanitiser gloop and liberally smearing it on one hand and after putting away the bottle, smearing it over both hands. She used so much of it that it was dripping onto the floor. I was so mesmerised by this action taking place BEFORE she went looking for people to shake hands with that I totally missed the priest saying his phrase and was late to the party, so to speak.
I suddenly realised the man in front of me had partially turned around and had been already offering his hand to me for a few seconds. Dennis, next to me, also had his hand out and as a friend, I wanted to shake his first. So I did. I then went to accept the sign of peace from the man in front but his wife had just whispered something to him and as my hand went out, his retracted. She said something to him again and his hand came at me again but by now I'd taken mine back and was already looking for that 20 yr old. I saw his outstretched hand at the last minute and went for it......but after another whisper from his wife.....yep, back it went.
Anyone observing this religious 'hand jive' would've been in hysterics but it just puzzled me at the time. Why weren't we meeting and greeting, for goodness sake ? Then, in a moment akin to the revelation to St. Whatshisname on the road to Damascus or Bali or somewhere, it hit me. I noticed the dark glasses and then, the cane. HE WAS BLIND !
The whispers had been his wife trying to time things to let him know if there was a hand near his or not.
"He has it out now."
"No, it's not there anymore."
"It's there again now."
And so on. If we'd been in sync, we could've shaken hands from the get go and moved on. Him to someone else with his wife's help and me......well to wherever that cracking hottie had moved to. But oh no. Smeary sanitised woman had played havoc with my mojo and I was all over the place from the off. I just kept feeling sorry for the poor sucker who took her hand first up.
"Peace be with y......WTF lady. What have you been DOING ? "
Mass eh ? Mass with kids eh ? Mass with kids and blind hand shakers eh ? All too stressful for a Christmas Eve I can tell you. I was quite relieved to get out and back to the sanity of the real world.
But standing just outside the doors, blocking my path to normality, stood the priest....shaking everyone's hand. I had a panic attack.
Taking my cue from what had gone before, I improvised. I spat on my hands, rubbed them together and as the priest was poised for a shake, I gave him a two handed high five, said "sorry I'm blind" and marched on to the car park without a backward glance.
As with Uncle Albert and our house, I'm not sure I'll be welcomed back at that Church anytime soon.
Peace be with you all.