I know, I'm totally not sticking to my conviction that I was going to be increasingly absent here. Whatever.
This year I decided to take the kids to the midnight Pascha (Easter) service at church. I tossed around a few ideas on how to work it out. My mom was willing to let me leave the Princess at home to sleep, but I didn't want her up at her usual 4-5:30. I also knew that we couldn't sleep in here, as a family, even if she did. And I just got a credit limit raise on my card. So I decided to rent a hotel room near the church. Did I mention our church is a 45 minute drive? Well, now you know.
It went well, and I think I'll make a habit out of that if we don't end up moving closer to the church in future. However, if I ever again find out the day before that I'm getting my feminine curse, I'll know to stay home. Plus Whiz Kid was coming down with a nasty sinus infection that got progressively worse overnight. He now has an ear infection. So although I'm very glad we went (especially after seeing how many parish members showed up, including all the parents of young children), I think I'll be wiser in future. The kids all said they were glad to have been there, even Whiz Kid. Little Bear slept through the entire 3-hour service, and the Princess through most of it. It was a beautiful ceremony and I hope I can enjoy it better the next time, without the splitting headache.
In the morning we stayed until checkout time and the plan was to attend the reading of the Gospels at 1PM, then have an early dinner with the boys' godfather and his family. But I was in so much pain by about 12:30 that I had to go home and lay down. Little Bear was terribly disappointed, since he just began serving in the altar and was bent on being part of the Gospel service. I felt so bad. We were able to meet for dinner later (lots of Advil later), and it was good. But I do hope next year we are in good health.
More and more these days I feel like the people of our parish are my family. I feel more at home there than I ever did here, and more comfortable with them than with most of my kin. My mom made a comment recently about the economic trouble in our country, implying that she's concerned for what will happen "when the check stops" and all the welfare recipients come out of the cities to loot our homes. I could hardly bite my tongue enough to hide my disgust. She has her good points, but understanding people - as individuals or en masse - has never been one of them. Apparently understanding government strategy isn't either. The "checks" aren't going to stop until nearly everything else has, because the powers that be aren't about to risk mass rioting by starving people for whom there is no work. Nobody can really predict what crises we will be faced with during our lifetimes, but one thing I know for sure: in the event of some kind of upheaval, my mom is NOT the person I would want at my shoulder. She still trusts all the wrong people, and looks for enemies in the wrong places. None of her friends - the people she views as "us" - are people I would want as allies. I don't believe any of them are capable of laying aside their egos long enough to actually identify and combat a common enemy somewhere other than the radio and internet. The pen is mightier than the sword, until your enemy is standing over you with one. Besides, it isn't their pens I would worry about since half of them can't form a cohesive argument OR a properly structured sentence!!! Bad grammar and poor logic aside, I doubt a single one of them would sacrifice anything dear to them for the sake of principles. On the other hand, I think many of the people she views as "them" are the people we would find at our shoulders in a crisis, provided my mom didn't chase them off with religious and political invective first. Ugh.
The people I'd want to be with are the people of my parish. They're intelligent AND perceptive (it takes both). They know how to lay aside differences for a common cause; they do it at every service. Multiple languages can be heard in the fellowship hall, and some of them hardly speak English at all, but they meet every week or more to worship. Most of them have not been swallowed by the American culture of entertainment, so they still know how to reason. They also know how to sacrifice; it's no small thing to emigrate from your homeland and start over. These are the people I'd want to be "in the trenches" with. I'd trust them with my life.