Friday, December 18, 2009

The Jesus of the Broken Arm, or, Merry Christmas!

In my exuberance over the Christmas season, I have been enthusiastically exploring the treasures my folks have collected over the years. In doing so, I have done my part to help pare down the number of holiday-themed decorations that make their way out of boxes for a couple of weeks each year.

So in the thrall of downsizing, I have cleared out quite a few glass ornaments that really needed to go. Then I checked my stocking to see if Santa had come early. Lapped some water from the tree just to see if the pine infusion tasted any different than my usual mud puddle or pond water and cleared out a couple more ornaments for good measure.

Having thoroughly examined the secular side of the holiday in our home, it was time to turn to the religious. Hey, what's an Advent wreath but some twigs tied together in a not-so-Gordian knot, and some candles that seemed to yearn for a chomp or two?

But when I took a swipe at the Virgin Mary, Mom had had enough. So she sat me down and told me the whole story about how the Jesus with the Broken Arm came to be part of our family.

It was first grade, Catholic school. The nuns perhaps had received a new Nativity set as a pre-Christmas gift from some parishioners. When they unboxed their old things in anticipation of decorating their dreary 50's era residence, they must have realized that the Jesus with the Broken Arm had to go.

So they held a raffle. The child who bid the most money would win the four-piece set, which included the Jesus (left arm partially amputated), a real wood manger with real straw, and a Mary and Joseph, all in traditional garb, beautifully painted.

The children were marched, in line, past the set to examine it, then seated at their desks to create secret bids.

It was rare for Mom to have any money at all in those days, so on the tiny piece of paper provided by those frugal nuns, she wrote the amount that nestled in her plaid wool jumper pocket: 5 cents.

Either the other kids rejected the poor Jesus for his disability, or they were more cash-poor than Mom, because hers was the only bid. So Jesus came home with Mom that day, and has been part of her treasures ever since. After Christmas, the nuns retaliated by forcing everyone to eat leftover fruitcake (think of the starving children in Africa!), but that's another story.

I felt a bit embarrassed after this revelation, but my swipe did have the consequence of making Mom realize that in her haste to decorate, she put Mary on the wrong side of the manger: the right side, rather than the left. Any good Catholic child knows that Mary is always on the left side of the altar. That's where the girls had to sit when they went to church in Catholic school; boys on the Joseph side on the right.

Now, with the Holy Family in proper order, I can rejoice in being back on the nice list.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuckerby the Steadfast

I prefer not to.

Go out in the rain, that is. Or snow. Or hail. If I hear even a molecule of precipitation falling upon the roof or dripping through the downspout, I’m in for the day.

Mom slogged through much of Melville, starting with Bartleby the Scrivener, and was fond of employing that antagonist’s signature line, so it’s fitting that I be influenced by him. However, I am not completely under his thrall.

Bartleby, if you remember, starved to death—his preference. I am stubborn enough to stand stockstill in the street even with Mom throwing pieces of ham in front of me, a la Hansel and Gretel (although the intent was to get me moving forward, not to retrace our steps, and thank goodness she didn’t bring bread crumbs). But I am not so pertinacious that I would refuse a meal on principle. Unless it were served out in the rain.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My new toy

I've had lots of fun playing with my new hedgehog toy. It's some sort of puzzle, right? You attack it, gnaw at it, then bite at it some more until you finally get to that squeaky heart. Now that I've completed the challenge and thoroughly investigated its innards, I'm done with it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Extra lbs: more to love?

Here’s the latest word from the eminent Dr. S at VCA Westboro—shave off some of that poundage!

Wasn’t there something recently in the Times about how the company you keep affects all sorts of habits, like if you hang out with thin friends who exercise a lot, you'll start to be like them? Being a reverse psychologist, yesterday I took a hike with a new pal, Nenna. She’s a 2-year-old, like me, except that unlike me she is a Great Dane and 6 feet, 3 inches when fully extended—stretch limo length. And, she clocks in at 170 lbs. The way I figure it, she makes me look positively teeny!

To console myself after my ghastly weigh-in results (which were so alarming they had to be double-checked), I pulled out a few old notes from Kelly, who helps exercise me.

Tucker definitely has to be one of the smartest dogs I've ever met (and of course, one of the most handsome)
I like how everyone in the neighborhood knows his name and stops to talk to him on his walks. Despite his sneaky ways, he sure is lovable!!
He is a very unique dog. And very smart. (And very handsome).

Good times, good times.

We always zip over to Especially for Pets as an after-vet consolation prize. But this time,
instead of letting me snag some treats for myself, Mom made me pick out a new toy.