cronechronicler

You don't know where you are going. You don't know how to get there. And you arrive just the same. Ghanaian saying

Perfection In the Midst of Imperfection: Lagniappe and Love

Once upon a time almost half a century ago, when my youngest son was two years old, we used to go to a late afternoon Christmas Eve service at our church. The big draw for our three sons was the Kentucky Fried Chicken supper afterward. We mothers enjoyed a break before the harried moments of getting children wide-eyed with excitement to sleep so Santa Claus could arrive. The fathers were happy to be off the hook for a bit before the annual challenge of assembling toys that always came with a part or two missing. Through the years there is one Christmas Eve that remains perpetually fresh in my memory.

We arrived a little late and found seats in the back of the church. While we sang carols, one of my favorite parts of the service, my youngest son quietly slipped beneath the pews and crawled forward several rows until a vigilant parent retrieved him and pointed him back in our direction. When time came for telling the story of the First Christmas the Pastor called the children forward to gather around him at the front of the Sanctuary. The children sat on the floor and looked around with awe at this part of the church usually reserved for grown people, often wearing long black robes. I noticed a child edge away from the group and stealthily begin to climb the circular stair leading upward to the Pulpit. Soon a small head leaned way over the railing, like a sailor leaning out over the sea from a ship’s crows nest. It was my pew-crawling son.

Behind the Pulpit and other Ecclesiastical furniture, there was a tapestry-like wall covering surrounding the Cross. It was a heavenly shade of blue patterned with gold lines forming diamond shapes. At the points of the diamonds there were rosettes completing the design except where one was purposely left off. This was to remind us of the imperfection of humankind. I privately named the missing flower the symbol of “The August Order of the Missing Rosette” and considered myself a charter member. I mentally included my pew-crawling, pulpit-climbing son in its ranks.

This holiday season I’ve had occasion to renew my membership in the “August Order”. I do most of my shopping on-line. I particularly like ordering from Amazon to take advantage of free shipping if I spend a certain amount. I checked with my middle son who lives in another city to see what my two grandchildren wanted as gifts. I went on-line, found just the thing for each child and had them shipped to their address, which is in Amazon’s list of people I frequently send gifts to. Two days ago I received an email from Amazon saying the gifts were on the way – to my address! I couldn’t believe it. I’m certain that I clicked on my son’s address. My stomach sank. Now I’m afraid I can’t get the presents to their house in time for Christmas day. This is bad, but the worse thing is that this is not an isolated incident. It is a feature of aging that I find hard to accept. Doing ridiculous things and laughing about it with my friends “of a certain age” is one thing. Messing up my grandchildren’s Christmas is a whole different matter. I emailed my son about the delay and told him that I guess perfection is just not something possible for vintage-aged people. He replied that to him “my imperfections are just lagniappe (a Louisiana phrase meaning something extra added to a gift). The August Order of the Missing Rosette would be proud of my son and me.

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