Happy. New. Year.

Happy: in high spirits; satisfied, blessed, blest, blissful, blithe, can’t complain, captivated, cheerful, chipper, chirpy, content, contented, convivial, delighted, ecstatic, elated, exultant, flying high, gay, glad, gleeful, gratified, intoxicated, jolly, joyful, joyous, jubilant, laughing, light, lively, looking good, merry, mirthful, on cloud nine, overjoyed, peaceful, peppy, perky, playful, pleasant, pleased, sparkling, sunny, thrilled, tickled, tickled pink, up, upbeat, walking on air.

New: recent, fresh, advanced, au courant, brand-new, contemporary, current, cutting-edge, dewy, different, dissimilar, distinct, fashionable, inexperienced, just out, late, latest, modern, modernistic, modish, neoteric, newfangled, novel, now*, original, recent, spick-and-span, state-of-the-art, strange, topical, ultramodern, unaccustomed, uncontaminated, unfamiliar, unique, unknown, unlike, unseasoned, unskilled, unspoiled, untouched, untrained, untried, untrodden, unused, unusual, up-to-date, virgin, youthful.

Year: the time in which any planet completes a revolution round the sun.

A chipper spick-and-span revolution everyone!

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Seriously

I need to get serious about my life.  I mean, here I am, pushing 50 years old.  I need to act my age.  Straighten up and be respectable.  Stop making stupid, embarrassing comments on Facebook.  Start using my blog to address real issues, things that really matter to people.  I need to start using words like euphemism, and ethical, and…other words.

I told Renata I was going to get serious about life.  She smiled, said “Sure,” then turned on her heel, asking, “have you seen my keys?” I don’t think she understood I mean it.

Logan at the Taco Shop knows.  I went by a few months ago wearing my  “Thank God for Football, Women and Beer” t-shirt.  “Nice shirt for a priest, Howie.  Geez, it’s no wonder you can’t find a job.”  (He remembers hiring me to work off-the-books once for a few days, when things were a bit slow for me in the ministry area. I took a bunch of stuff to the dump for him.)

Speaking of clothes, mine could use some updating.  I could at least move up from jeans to Dockers or something.  Look a little more serious, like a real Reverend.  Start wearing my dog-collar.  Clothes that fit my station in life.  Maybe that upper-crust English fellow priest-in-training twelve years ago was on to something.  But really, what’s so wrong with a Superman t-shirt?   She should talk; driving a dorky British Racing Green Jaguar.

I need to get rid of my zits, too.  Or rather, “address the acne issue”.  If that wasn’t the biggest lie I ever bought!  “All gone by the time you’re 18.”  Sure.  In any case, a pimple on the end of ones nose can, I have found, stand in the way of being taken seriously.

What about my title?  A former colleague always went by “Revd. Prof. Dr.” when the rest of us agreed to just first and last names on our cards.  It definitely influenced what we thought of her.

Imagine!  A clear faced, long-term employed, Revd. Howard K. Adan, wearing nicely pressed Dockers and dog-collared shirt, shined shoes, matching blazer, writing serious sermons and blogs and Facebook posts.

I’m sure I would feel much more successful.

Laughing

“No one laughs at God in the hospital.”  Or so sings Regina Spektor.

It’s not an absolute truth, but my pastoral experience thus far bears witness.  In fact, my first ever hospital visit in the name of the Church of England was to see a man whom I didn’t know; when I asked why he called for me he replied:

“Because I’m afraid to die.  I know it won’t be long before I meet my Maker and I don’t know what to do about it.”

No one laughs at God in the hospital.

But I think God – and perhaps the various creatures of his entourage, the ones who can see us as we live our lives on earth – must laugh at us sometimes.  Or quite a bit.

Much like the way I laugh at my dog, Hamish, enjoying his simplicity and ignorance, his total lack of comprehension of things obvious.

Hamish sometimes gets what I call an “anus demon”.  It makes me laugh.  What happens is this: in his voracious efforts to indiscriminately eat anything and everything that smells (even slightly) edible, and eat it quickly, he sometimes ingests a hair or two.  Unlike humans, this doesn’t seem to bother him in any way when it goes down with the rest of his dinner.  But a day later, when it comes out the other end, it invariably causes a problem: it doesn’t come out cleanly with the rest of his poop.  The result is a hair hanging out his anus, to one end of which clings a small piece of tenacious turd.

Watching from a distance, and with my superior knowledge of the world, I think: “Hamish, it’s just a hair coming out your butt with a piece of crap hanging on it.”

But Hamish earnestly believes otherwise.  He knows he has entered a thin space between the worlds; he has inexplicably crossed into some sort of twilight zone where an evil creature has set its sights on him and is trying to possess him, via his ass.  His eyes bulge, his ears go back, and his face fills with anxious worry.  The Anus Demon has returned and found the house swept clean.

He turns to see what’s the matter.  But of course – as I discovered when I was a young, inquisitive (some might say “curious”) child – no one can see their anus without the help of a mirror, excepting perhaps the odd circus performer.  Not having a mirror to hand, Hamish soon gives up looking.  Still, he KNOWS something is there; he can feel it dangling in the breeze.  And his little brain says: “Escape!  Now!  Fly, you fool!  If you value your life and all that is dear to you, RUN!”

The end result is a dog mightily conflicted about what he should do.  He dashes about in an erratic, panicked mode, now crouching, now running, now sitting, always feeling the finger of doom ever poking at his rear end.  Finally, his doggy instinct takes over and he will hunch in desperation, heaving until the job is done.  Then, as if he was cool with it all along, he’ll sneeze in indignation and kick up some dirt with his hind legs.  Take that, Anus Demon.

Sometimes I feel overcome with events that I’m sure from God’s perspective are really quite minor, things I can’t quite wrap my mind around.  Like Hamish, I’m not very intelligent to begin with, and it doesn’t take much to get me seeing demons where there is just a dark shadow.   Who knows, maybe the angels have a bit of a laugh at my expense when I’m running around believing my end is near.

Snagglepuss

I went to google “Snagglepuss”

and wound up here instead.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, I fussed

I should have stayed in bed.

But too late now, I’m up, I’m washed

Let’s see what Facebook’s got.

More Farms and Zoo’s and Friend Requests

from people I know not.

Then on to Daily Show I go, to look for some relief.

Who’s Jon got for us today?  It’s Snoop Dogg, oh good grief.

“There is a switch on that machine!” a Voice comes from Above.

I bow my head in reverence.

My wife, the one I love.

Christmas cards

I hereby declare, single-handedly and unilaterally, that the age of the Christmas card, having commenced sometime in the 1840’s, is officially over.  Sure, we will continue to have a few die-hard stragglers who dutifully keep up this archaic Victorian custom, but their numbers are ever-waning, quaint oddities in a digital age.

This year, for the first time ever, the Amsterdam Adans have received more email Christmas greetings than the card variety.

Twenty-six years ago the Newlywed Adans, residing in Seattle, strung up a line of festive ribbon around the top of the living room walls.  (Easy enough in a land of wood; brick & mortar Europe is more problematic…)  As Christmas approached each card delivered to our postbox was attached to the ribbon, creating  a cordon of colorful greetings ranging from the banal to the sublime, from Santa’s reindeer to the Magi.

We too, tutored by our heritage and living in  fear of not living up to elders’ expectations, spent unreasonable amounts of time and money purchasing and sending cards which, at the other end of the cycle, garnered no more than a fleeting appreciative glance before being added to a horde of unanswered mail.  The greetings were sincere enough, but lost in a sea of holiday sincerity.

Today, anno 2009 and four days before Christmas, I survey the lonely ribbon upon the wall and deduce that, in fact,  I have more digits than cards, more children than creche scenes, more pets at my feet than Magi on the wall.  Let’s face it: the life has gone out of this particular party.  The bubbly’s gone flat, the cracker is hopelessly soggy.  Time for a fresh approach.

The year-end Christmas letter, sent by email and adorned with strange family photos and seasonal clip-art, appears to be the new standard.  Is this an improvement?  I’m not sure.  In any case, I have so far not been inclined to print out these oddball missals and string them up.  On the other hand, they do tell me much more about my friend or loved one than a simple card with standard Christmas text and cursory greeting.

Who knows what the future will bring.  In any case, in spite of the fact I have not sent you a card, I wish you, blessed reader, a truly merry Christmas.

24 December:  Okay,  after having written the above two things happened:  1) We received a flood of cards, now surpassing the emailed messages.  Seems my writing was premature.  2) I also received some angry emails.  So I take this opportunity to remind you to read the “N.B.” disclaimer on my “About” page…

Finally, if you are wondering where the link went to my Youtube greeting: my sensitive spirit convinced me it might be somewhat offensive to some of my British readers, so I took it off.  OTT = Out, just to be sure.

What a lot of work from some casual writing!