There I sat on the front pew at church last Sunday morning, waiting patiently for my cue to sashay around the Christmas tree and wend my way up the steps to play piano for the song service. How could I have known that a cursory glance at the morning bulletin would change my self-concept forever?
Right there in front of me, in big, bold letters, was the three-line quotation from Proverbs 17:6. To ease the shock--and to calm my still-thumpety-thumping heart, I will give them to you a line at a time.
Grandchildren . . . I smiled without reading further. Undoubtedly, the bulletin was about to reveal a whippy, Pollyanna comment about the blessing of grandkids. I licked my lips and prepared to eat it up. After all, how could any comment about grandkids be anything other than delicious, especially here at church, where the kids occasionally visit with me so that everyone can see how cute and smart they all are. I eagerly read on.
. . . are the crown . . . Still smiling. What a neat metaphor, I was thinking, the idea that grandkids bring a crown to googies like me, elevating them to nothing short of royalty. No doubt I feel regal when the three of them sit around me and cast their eyes upward in adoration as I sing or read a story from atop my dais. Little crowns, most certainly, everyone of them. Let me just lean down so that a few more jewels may be put in place. Indeed, this simple church bulletin seemed to demonstrate the impeccable insight and wisdom of the Lord Himself. With that reverent thought, my eyes continue downward to catch the final line.
. . . of the elderly. Excuse me? The ELDERLY? Is this a misprint? Some renegade proverb posing as the real thing when it is really an imposter? I refuse to think of myself as "elderly." I have not even hit 60 yet, which every women's magazine in print will hasten to tell you is the "New 40." Elderly, indeed. I guess King James didn't read many women's magazines.
Wait a minute. Let me just calm down. Let's see what the dictionary lists as the official definition of elderly. Maybe I am overreacting, and things are not as bad as I fear.
Hmm. It says "rather old." That is not what I was wanting to read. Frankly, I'd rather go with the definitions of elderberry right above or El Dorado right below. Yep, right there between a delicious edible red fruit and a place of vast riches is "rather old, " and I guess Proverbs 17:6 is suggesting that is me. How rude.
To add insult to injury, I do not find the photograph under this troublesome caption very inspiring either. In it, a really old lady in a whippy pastel-striped apron (with no holes or stains, I might add) holds her right hand around her granddaughter (perhaps this is an imposter too--they are both smiling; the grandma obviously wears dentures) as the child bastes a turkey under Granny's careful tutelage and obvious approval.
There are several things wrong with this picture. The turkey is brown and obviously done, so why is any basting going on at this point? Also, if the turkey has just been removed from the oven, as the photo implies, then the granddaughter's arm is entirely too close to the hot pan. An inch closer and I'll bet she won't be smiling anymore as she and Granny both make a mad dash for the aloe vera.
Furthermore, the child's hair is tied back and not hanging down into the stuffing. This is unrealistic. The grandmother is holding the dish of melted butter, when any self-respecting granddaughter would nag appropriately until she could hold this herself. Finally, I find it odd that neither person is wearing an oven mitt. Nope, this picture is just not ringing true with me.
Therefore, I must extend a vigorous thumbs-down to the Lifeway Press, thoughtless publisher of this bulletin cover travesty. If they were trying to start my day with a scripture and photo imbued with pleasantry and inspiration, well, that didn't happen. Someone there had better bring this up at their next committee meeting.
Instead, my heart is racing, my hands are shaking, and I am unsteady on my feet. How am I ever going to make it around this dratted tree in this condition to play something that sounds even remotely like a Christmas carol?
Speaking of Christmas Carol, let me just end with a Dickensian take on this whole experience: Elderly! Bah Humbug!