Thursday, December 20, 2012

Counting Sheep - At the Funeral Home

Counting Sheep at the Funeral Home © 2001 Ginger Hamilton Caudill
Appeared in November 2004 Mountain Echoes

GHC's Note: This was written 11 years ago. My skills have hopefully improved since then. Am posting it as is.

James was two and Mena five when we created my 
favorite Christmas memory. A local funeral home sponsors a nativity display each year featuring live sheep. I invited Mena's best friend Cerissa along for the adventure. I thought it'd be a unique experience for the children.

How right I was.

Despite asking before we left home, all three children needed to "go" as soon as we stepped out of the car. We trooped inside the funeral home to find the restroom. While I was helping James, the girls wandered off and entered a viewing room. When I finally found them, they were staring transfixed at the mortal remains of a very pink, very old lady. Recognizing a teaching moment, I began to explain the purpose for viewing.

Just then the very pink, very old dead lady's only surviving relative entered the parlor, welcomed us, and thanked us for coming. I used all my powers of diplomacy to extract us from the situation and gladly herded my charges back to the parking lot.

Cerissa marveled at the life-sized manger and commented on how sweet Mary's expression was. Mena noted how humanlike the sheep's eyes  were. Several other folks sharing the experience murmured in agreement. It was a truly lovely, peaceful Hallmark moment. Just as I started congratulating myself on a successful evening, to my horror a chain of events worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit began.

James complained he couldn't see Jesus. I lifted him over the fence and set him inside the corral. A lone sheep backed into him. James slapped its behind. Bleating in fear, it lurched away and dashed for the sanctuary of the crèche. The other sheep followed. Each animal leapt over baby Jesus, knocking against Mary and Joseph. Attached to the top of the stable by wires, the statues spun wildly as each sheep's generous hindquarters bumped them. I hadn't realized how many people were there until I heard raucous laughter. A few witnesses even applauded.

We now view the live nativity scene each year from the safety of the car, even though they're both nearly grown. You just can't count on sheep.


Karen Brideweser said...

Hilarious! You can't make this stuff up. I will never view a nativity scene again without sharing your memories.Quietly, and laughing to myself, of course...

Ginger said...


Thanks, Karen! It was truly hilarious. I need to rewrite this story and make it read better. :) I'm glad you'll always have a positive memory of me around the holidays!