Earlier this week, I put together a list of the saddest Christmas songs inspired by the most miserable of them all “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I even wrote an intro. But last night at the longest midnight mass of all time, I realized, in the midst of a fit of laughter, that Christmas isn’t entirely bad after all.
The family ended up at an Episcopalian church somewhere near Homestead. All smoky with incense, it was like a wooden womb decorated with a great big glowing rainbow cross. I thought the atmosphere was fitting for some jazzy X-mas tunes. Who knew these Anglicans would put us through a two hour service that literally started with Genesis and ended with… well, who knows, we left before the end.
The program they handed out on entry outlined the entire affair. It was about 20 pages long. Needless to say, this didn’t work for us. My aunt passed out for a bit, hunched forward in the pew, waking only to glare back at us with filthy looks. Our family friend, a Jew who enjoys a good Christmas tune, turned around with an accusingly sarcastic look after a particularly loud “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” My cousin, flipping through the novel-length program just kept flipping, on and on. She looked at me with the same face. I had to snarf my laughter and cover my face till it passed. It returned, as it always does at mass.
Once my best friend Eddie and I were so blinded by laughter at a midnight mass that we didn’t notice how disruptive our joy was. The pious ladies around us, probably Miami Lexus SUV drivers, turned and said, “You should be ashamed of yourself! THIS is a holy place.” Of course, this made us laugh harder. I think I elbowed past them toward the bathroom.
Certainly, we may seem like heathens, like disrespectful group of a-holes, and sure, no doubt. However, I think Christmas, hell, all holy ceremonies, are a time of celebration, and if laughter is how we celebrate, there’s a spiritual element in there somewhere. We’re at church for God’s sake. Let us enjoy ourselves.
For the first time ever, last night, I saw another family not enjoying the mass with the same glee. It was made up largely of teenaged boys. Hey, no one said we’re a mature group. I didn’t judge them for their enjoyment, I wanted to commiserate with them. The more time we spend laughing together on this earth, the closer I think we are to God, whatever God is or isn’t.
There’s my defense of laughter at church. A modified version is applicable for laughing at funerals.
With that, my favorite Christmas song: miserable in its message, somewhat upbeat in its tune. Possibly, this is one of my favorites of all time.
And, of course, for the Jews out there, the festive “Hanukkah Dance” by Woody Guthrie.
Have some happy, fun holidays!