I can hardly believe it myself, but here it is – mid-November, and I’ve already been bitten by the Christmas Spirit. This must be some kind of record. Partly it might be from waking up to this two days ago:
It also might be due to a Christmas market we went to the night before – a new one that is walking distance from my home. I wasn’t expecting much, but ended up being completely enchanted. A local woman had bought a 200 year old farmhouse from another part of the country, which was taken down and rebuilt here. She combined it with a more modern tract and horse stables, and filled it with antiques and artistic touches. The things for sale at the market were all handmade and so creatively displayed throughout the house. We meandered through the rooms and then had some hot mulled wine out in the courtyard.
I did not come home empty handed. I saw a little crèche made of felt and had to have it for my collection. I quickly peeked inside to make sure the rest of the figures were in there and then headed for the cashier. I probably should have inspected it more carefully.
When I got home, the first thing that I noticed was that there was no baby Jesus figure. I looked more closely – there were the donkeys and sheep, the angel and the three kings, there was Joseph and then . . . . there was this guy:
It seems I bought myself an alternative crèche – it’s not Joseph and Maria in the manger, but Joseph and Mario. (And I guess that explains the absence of the baby Jesus.)
I should probably go back to the Christmas market and ask about my missing figures but, to be honest, the heathen in me is getting fonder by the minute of my new crèche just the way it is. It makes my collection somehow more . . . diverse. More inclusive. Isn’t that in line with the Christmas spirit too?
Two of my activities today got me thinking about all the times I have lost jobs. Technically I have never been fired – at least in the sense of someone looking me in the eye and saying “You’re fired!” But that is only because two of my former bosses were simply too chicken to do so. One of them took 9/11 as an opportunity to quick give my class to someone else. (I had missed the start of the semester because I was stuck in the States waiting for a chance to fly back to Austria.) That new teacher ended up calling me to tell me the news. Never heard a peep from the boss about it.
About 10 years later I got fired by forwarded email from my boss’s boss instructing me to clear out my office and give back any of the Institute’s stuff I might have. The layoff itself did not come as a surprise to me, but the way it was done was galling. A particularly nice sendoff after 25 years of employment . . .
Today, a new twist on this form of email termination was born. I wrote an email to my boss requesting that the university course I have been teaching be cancelled. In other words, I basically fired myself. This was not the easiest thing to do because I always loved teaching this particular course. Unfortunately the whole program is winding down and the number of students has been dwindling for years. Last year I had to go and proactively look for students – corral a few warm bodies into my classroom to teach. This year I didn’t want to do that anymore.
So I am down to one job now. I would be feeling sorry for myself if not for three of our chickens who have had an even harder day. Remember those four chicks we got for the purpose of keeping our one incubator chick company? Well, all four of them turned out to be roosters. Three of them had to go and today was the day.
We grabbed them, stuffed them in a box, and my husband drove them to the local . . . Chicken Ender. A half hour later, he was back home with a bulging plastic bag.
Tomorrow one of the roosters is going into the oven and then comes the moment of truth. I am not convinced that I will really be able to eat him. My husband is determined to cultivate a realistic attitude about it all. He says if he can’t handle the fact that animals – even those he knew when alive – are killed and eaten, then he should become a vegetarian.
I, on the other hand, am considering turning the meal into a little ceremony. I will take a moment to remember and honor this rooster for his many contributions to our family enterprise. I will thank him for his good work and give him the thoughtful sendoff he so richly deserved.
I’ll try hard not to gag.