Monday, December 27, 2010

The Drunken Angel

She sat on our tree every year, this angel in a plastic blue dress with white wings.  She even lasted longer than three artificial Christmas trees and a whole set of ornaments.  She was molded in one piece and even her hair was a plastic blond.  Stuck up inside of her was a small light that topped off the decorations, making her queen of the tree.  Well, of course that wasn't all that was crammed up under her rigid dress.  She also had a giant tree branch pinning her on her perch.

No one seems to know what became of our Christmas angel.  One year it was there and the next it wasn't.  It had belonged to my grandmother along with some lights that had also mysteriously disappeared that year.  Whether someone thought the box they were in was trash or they got lost in one of the moves I don't know.  I don't think anyone does, really.  It’s not hard to imagine.  My Uncle Billy bought Aunt Peggy a diamond ring one Christmas.  Gifts were being ripped open and paper flew everywhere.  The floor was a littered holiday explosion.  Somewhere amidst the shiny paper, colored ribbon and eccentric bows was my aunt’s ring.  They tore the place apart in a frantic frenzy but it was never found.  Like the angel, it had disappeared and that’s the sad fact.

Throughout my childhood years, I remember that angel being on top of the tree every year and every year we had the exact same problem.  Our angel tilted. I suppose when describing a lady the proper term would be lilt, but whichever word you use the fact remained that that sweet gal just couldn't stand up straight.  The joke became that she was simply our drunken angel.

Oh, we tried everything to get her to stand proper.  We crammed more branches up her plastic dress or wrapped her with rubber bands to anchor her into place.  Nothing worked, however, or at least not for long.  She would stand tall and proud at first, displaying the dignity of her angelic realm, but eventually, when no one was looking, she'd start to lean to the right in a drunken stance.

I like to think she was merely tired and that her years of standing guard over brightly packaged presents had given her cause to slouch.  Let's face it; she'd been on guard duty a long time.  First there was my mom and aunt and then eventually my sister and me.  She had to watch over the gifts to make sure we didn't sneak unnecessary peeks.  That can be a tiring task.  I mean, I never sneaked an early glimpse of a wrapped surprise but I'm sure my sister did.  That poor ancient angel just couldn't keep up.

People would always notice our poor angel and make their comments about her behavior.  "What's wrong with your angel?  She's kind of crooked."

"Nothing's wrong.  We call her our drunken angel.  Just how she is."

"Whoever heard of a drunken angel?  Angels are holy, majestic beings."

A shrug of the shoulders.  "Ours is drunk.  It happens."

And it does happen.  We form perceptions of angels, as well as people, and when we see a side that doesn't fit that perception we don't know how to handle it.  Our plastic angel was tired of being straight.  It was uncomfortable standing rigid all the time with pine branches up her bum.  So she decided to make herself comfortable and relax.  People should take a lesson.

I've seen the rigid people.  I used to be one and to be honest it's uncomfortable.  It really is like walking around with a stick stuck up your backside.  These people are afraid of being who they really are because they've surrounded themselves with people who really enjoy sitting on that stick.

Many years ago, Char and my boys had a chance to do something rare and exciting.  Her brother, Scott, had arranged for them to ride in a blimp.  Not many people get that experience and so we jumped on it.  They had the time of their lives.  Char said it was almost like being on a roller coaster without rails.  They were taken out over the ocean and up and down the Space Coast and the boys talked about it for weeks.

However, the Rigid weren't happy because the blimp was owned by Budweiser.

"We boo that blimp every time we see it.  You shouldn't be supporting that type of stuff.  You're endorsing drunk drivers."

By riding a blimp?  Ridiculous!

I've known people so afraid of enjoying themselves that they had to leave their hometown to see a movie at a theater because it was preached against.  Even worse, people I know have turned their backs on ones they called friends because they feared the Rigid.  They were afraid that their association would eventually expose their own guilt.  Yet, what I know beyond any doubt is that everyone wants to be like that angel on top of our tree.  Not drunk, mind you, or perched upon branches, but free to be who they were created to be and to enjoy life the way that makes them the happiest.  It's not a crime, you know.  Don't let them fool you.

We were all created equal, but we were not all created the same and it gets rather frustrating for someone to keep telling me I wasn’t meant to be the way I am.

“You know, you aren’t really happy.”  Mr. Rigid says.

“I seem pretty happy to me.”

“It’s a false sense of happiness.  What you need is to……”  And I look at the group he wants me to become a part of and wonder why those happy people seem so discontent.  People tend to go along with the beliefs of the majority that they’re surrounded by.  If those beliefs rub you the wrong way then you merely change the majority.  It happens all of the time and if you don’t believe me you can merely look at religion and politics for proof.

At one time Char stood out as our “drunken angel.”  She will be the first to tell you that she hates dresses and really anything that you would label girlie-girl.  She prefers baggy jeans and sweatshirts.  She enjoys working on cars and can throw a football better than most men I know.  I leave all of that sports stuff to her.  Yet, the Rigid hated her for it.  Women, we were told, were to wear dresses and sit on the sidelines gossiping.  Eventually, we found a new majority.

Traditional family.  Conventional marriage.  Normal.  All of these are changing and it’s the Rigid who will snap.  Allow yourself the room to breathe and this coming year enjoy the drunken angel within.

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