Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Jesus. And he brought snacks!

I’m sitting here eating a few saltine crackers as an afternoon snack. Like many people who grew up Protestant, I have a . . . weird relationship with saltines. Don’t get me wrong, I love saltines. I’m enjoying the hell of out my snack. But they will also always be associated in my mind with Communion.

I know some churches have special wafers. And some use honest to God wine. But at the Church of Christ we had crackers and grape juice passed as the “unleavened bread and wine,” this is my body, this is my blood. (Is it any wonder that I love the vampire and zombie stuff? Holy Communion is pretty lurid.) I now know that my church actually used kosher matzo crackers. But to me, it looked like they were passing around saltines. I was a southern WASP. What did I know from Manischewitz?

Of course, my church is one that believes in the “age of reason” and you can’t get baptized, and therefore can’t participate in Communion, until you’re at least an adolescent. So, Communion was one of those things that were definitely “not for kids.” And what do kids love? Crackers and grape juice. Not only do they pass them around, they put them on special fancy Communion plates. And you could hear the snap of the cracker as the person who dragged you to church broke off their bite, and then the redolent tang of grape juice (wine never tastes as good as grape juice smells). Insult. Grievous injury. None for you. Awwwwww. Of course, we’d imitate the ritual on our own. Raiding the pantry for saltines to put on paper, and Hi C to put in Dixie cups snatched from the bathroom. Profane little monkeys. But at church, the plates would be held high, away from any little hands that might be looking for a sacrilegious treat.

Fine. Didn’t want any anyways. I’ll just grow up and buy my own. And so a lifetime of heresy begins.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mini Me

I got to spend the morning baby-sitting my nephew, D. Of all the kids, D is the one most like me. Funnily enough, because he looks just like my brother did at that age, and my brother is my sibling least like me.

There are moments when I’ll just look down at his little two-year old self and see me so clearly reflected. He has Aunt Julie’s sugar jones (sorry, kid). He has my tendency to pick at something until he has it figured out. We both have storm cloud temperaments – the negative emotions are fast and hard, but the sun comes out pretty quickly again. Bossy, of course ("Clap, Dulie, clap! No, like this!"). And if something isn’t working the way he thinks it should, he’ll just whack on it until it does. Don’t know where on earth the kid got that.

It’s funny to look down and see all the little impulses I’ve been operating with for 40-odd years being acted out by a tiny human being. And, of course those 40 years have given me a perspective on those impulses (if I didn’t at least have some insight by now, I’d be in sorry shape). The temptation is to try to give him a life crib sheet. Do this, look at it this way, go that direction. Give the little guy a leg up on all the stuff I’ve figured out. But you can’t do that. First, half of life’s fun is figuring it out. Can’t rob him of that. Second, I think D is just a little bit smarter than I am. He may get to those answers faster than I did. And come up with some better ones too, if I don’t get in his way.

What I can do for him is empathize. I told my Mom, “Poor, D. Nobody is ever going to understand him the way his Aunt Julie does.” But, really, that’s not such a bad thing. At least one person should be able to see things the way you do. I think I would have liked that when I was growing up.

TIME: Quotes of the Day