Post on Request: Flocking Nuts

Don't give these two shepherd staffs.

You may not know this (why would you?) but my baby brother won this last round of Caption This! As you already know, the prize for having your snippet picked is a personally written post (for all to read) written on the topic of the winner’s choice. My Baby Bro’s request was a simple one…

“Can you recall any funny family holiday stories worth writing about?”

You got it A-Ball!

Flocking Nuts: Warm Holiday Memories

When I was in third grade, my mother had a dear friend who was active in the local Catholic church, her name was Rosalyn.

This lady was magic. Everything Rosalyn touched was perfect. She had an immaculate, well-decorated home, always smelled like sugar cookies, knew everyone in town and was the life of the party. I idolized her.

Rosalyn was also exceedingly calm, she always had every situation and potential crisis under control. Except for that one time…

It was December the 23th and my brother, sister and I were sitting in Rosalyn’s front room looking up at the lights on her Christmas tree (one of several, all perfect.)

My mom appeared and asked me to come with her, we walked back to a very disheveled Rosalyn in her craft room. She was my personal vision of 80’s perfection, and very stressed. Come to find out, she was in charge of the Angel and Shepherd processional for the Christmas Eve Mass. However, as of the 23rd, they had 12 shepherds and 31 angels. No kids wanted to be shepherds…strike that, no parents wanted to slave over shepherd costumes when they could be fluffing Angel get-ups instead.

Rosalyn, my idol at the time, approached me as if I were a foreign dignitary.

“I need you to be a Shepherd at the Christmas Eve Mass.”

Me: “Say what?”

There are not enough Shepherds, We need several more and I’m asking if you will please help me out.” She began going through her craft closet and quickly gathered up what I quickly registered as a shepherd costume (her son had been one several years prior.) “All you have to do is walk down an aisle in a line, and lead your fellow shepherds to the benches in the front of the church.”

I pictured myself as the star of the shepherd flock, I wasn’t just going to be a shepherd, I was going to be the HEAD shepherd. By agreeing to help, I was basically SAVING this Catholic Church’s Christmas, at least that’s how I saw it.

Ever ready to hog the spotlight and meet throngs of adoring fans, I responded…

“I will be your Shepherd! I will save Christmas!”

And then came her horrible announcement, the sentence that instantly caused me to regret my enthusiastic participation.

“Great, I’ll need you to go get your brother and sister so we can start making costumes for them too!”

Me: “Say what?”

My Mom chimed in quickly,”Oh yes, well…they are short shephards, so all three of you will have to do it. Matter of fact, you’ll be in charge of them, make sure they behave.”

Oy Vey. This is what happens when you agree to do nice things for people without asking too many questions.

My brother and sister at this point, were 3 and 5. The two were inseparable best buds,partners in crime and a whirling dervish of mischief. Baby bro, the sweet older brother was a perfect complement to baby sis, the heck-raising, tuff-talking, ring leader.

How was this going to work!?

I went back to the front room and started building the shepherd gig up, in a way that only an older sibling can do…”Wow! GUESS what I get to do!?!?! I get to be a SHEPHERD AT THE CHRISTMAS EVE MASS!”

“HAY! No fair, I wanna be one too,” my baby sis yelled back. Baby bro nodded his head, instantly letting me know he was looking to get in on the sweet shepherding action as well.

BINGO! The chumps took my chum bait. I victoriously marched them back to the craft room and in 30 minutes we were all fashioned in the finest of shepherd cloths. Rosalyn had her willing throng of shepherds ready to go.

As we left her house, we were handed our shepherd staffs. Wait, my brother and sister, “Thing 1 and Thing 2,” AKA “the gruesome twosome,” were going to be armed with large, tall wooden sticks? OH FLOCK!

The next day we arrived at the church, I was ready to make my triumphant debut, Yours truly entered the lobby and began lining up all of the shepherds. That was also the point where my sister saw the 30+ Angels lining up. Her eyes filled with murder and rage…at the time she was going through a James Cagney phase and imitated him often…”Those are Angels, see. That’s what I’m gonna be instead, see.”

“No, we’re shepherds,” Baby bro sensibly replied.

Baby Sis began chanting at the top of her volume: “I WANT TO BE AN ANGEL!” “AN-GEL, AN-GEL, AN-GEL!” I was failing in my task of Shepherd wrangling, the wheels were coming off the Angel/Shepherd processional train, my sister was the cause.

Out of nowhere, Rosalyn appeared the one and only time I’ve ever seen her angry and in “don’t f*ck with me kid,” mode.

“You are a shepherd, there are too many angels. Be nice and stop yelling, please.”

The shock of having an adult friend put on her MOM GENES caused baby sis to calm down and fall back in line. Soon after, it was time for our magical walk down the aisle. My sister defeated, kept looking at the frilly, shining angels among her and began to take solace in her weapon shepherd’s staff.

We took our seats on the front row and proceeded to sit through an hour of the service. Only, because she was already armed with a 4 ft stick and so was my baby bro, sister decided to start working out a little aggression, with her staff.

She shocked baby bro with a sneak attack WHACK(!) with her weapon. Brother, never one to be bullied, WHACKED her back. And so began the great shepherd staff fight of Christmas Eve. They were laughing, hitting and yelling, all on the front row for everyone to see (and laugh at) the dude on the stage in the robe aka the Priest, was not having any of this and he shot me the snitchiest look a human has ever given me. It was a gaze that said “Lock it up, or I will stop this service to kick all of you out all the way to HAIL!” Just as my sister recovered her Jimmy Cagney voice (and the shepherd staff that momentarily slipped out of her tiny fists) she shouted “On-guard, SEEE!” And wacked the pew as if she were in a fencing match.

Baby bro lost it, he thought this was just too hilarious. His loud peeling giggle was the final straw for my mother. Mom, whose friendship with Rosalyn was technically the entire catalyst for this carnival of terror, had been hiding in the back rows, pretending to be the proud parent of an angel.  Brother’s squeals of delight at my sister and her misbehaving were too much. Mom swooped in, collected my brother and sister’s staffs, grabbed my sister by her arm and pulled her close. “STOP ACTING UP!” she hissed. Baby sis, never one to care about surroundings, screamed “OUCH! You’re hurting me!!!!!!!!!!!!” The parish erupted into laughter. “I’m going to take you to the bathroom if you don’t behave.”

The threat of a “special edition Christmas-Eve beating” was enough to quell my sisters shenanigans for the remainder of the mass. 

There was a big Christmas Eve party at Rosalyn’s immediately after the mass, but my mother decided to skip that extra round of humiliation and took us home. Though I was a complete failure keeping the shepherd army under control, Mom thanked me for “agreeing to help and doing such a great job behaving.”

My sister and brother? They ended up being the stars of our family gathering the next day. As we sat around the table, stuffed with stuffing, I watched my grandparents laugh until streams of tears were visibly flowing. Dad almost choked on a chocolate coin when Mom got to the “On-Guard,”part.

But my family is like that, a real band of a-holes. I wouldn’t change them for all of the Angel costumes on Christmas Eve.

I hope you enjoyed your special “POST ON REQUEST,” Reader A-Ball. As for the rest of you? Your time will come, you just have to keep entering our CAPTION THIS contests!


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