Saturday, August 30, 2008

Duped by the whole parish!

About two months ago, I received an invitation to "The Presvytera's Luncheon." I assumed that this was a typo, and it was supposed to be "The Presvyteres' Luncheon." I emailed the church secretary to ask what this was about, and she said that Presvytera Vasso was in charge, and that she herself did not have any other information to give me. What with everything else going on, I kept forgetting to ask Presvytera Vasso about it.

Presvytera Vasso had told me way back that there would probably be a shower for me, and that the whole parish would be so excited about this baby, that I should not buy anything, but should register: I could always buy things later. So one thought was that this luncheon would be some presvyteres get-together, but another thought was that maybe it was the baby shower. I told my husband about this, and he basically shrugged and went back to researching for the best stroller (or whatever) to add to the registry. Obviously not something he was terribly curious about—he hadn't gotten an invitation.

The Thursday before the Sunday luncheon, I called Presvytera Vasso and asked her what this was all about. She said it was to honor the presvyteres of the area. I knew that she had been made the representative for the Tampa Bay area. I planned to take notes and pictures and maybe submit something for the Metropolis presvyteres' newsletter, and made a note to make sure I brought my camera to church on Sunday.

Sunday morning, I dropped Fr. Peter off for his usual hour before Orthros starts, and went back home to wake up a little more and have some quiet time in my glider in front of our icons to say the pre-Communion prayers. (There are often cheerful, exuberant morning people in church before Orthros starts, and my more curmudgeonly attitude doesn't quite mesh with the humility I'm aiming for in preparing to receive Christ.)

During the announcements, Fr. James reminded people that the coffee hour would be in the gym today, as there was a special function for the presvyteres in the hall. I was glad I had brought the camera. I was a little tired, so I did my usual thing and sat back down in my pew after getting the antidoron (blessed bread). When things had settled down a bit (and my feet condescended to let me use them without complaining), I went to go read the post-Communion prayers aloud for Fr. Peter. (We have a somewhat open altar on the sides, so I can be just outside while he finishes the Gifts.)

Then he did three things which were odd. He asked me to wait for him (he was going to go to the luncheon, invitation or not—as priest, one is usually just expected). I was happy enough to sit down. When he came out from having put his vestments away, he indicated that he would be willing to go through the pews and pick up the bulletins which had been left behind. (I always get in trouble for doing this, with a shocked, "Presvytera! We have a janitor for that!" ... but I always figure it's my church, my earth ... I'm the kind of person who likes to pick things up and keep them tidy ... as long as it's not actually my job or my house, that is.) So that was weird, but I was a little tired, and didn't know what to expect in terms of tiringness of the luncheon, so I said we should just go over there. There is a little walkway from the church to the hall, connecting two side doors of each, and usually we go through the sides. (It's nice to hang out with the man who has keys to just about everything, especially when your feet are tired.) But then he said, "I'm too lazy to use my keys. Let's go around to the front." I shrugged mentally, thinking that it was odd that he referred to himself as "lazy," since he is anything but.

I am not quick on the uptake.

When the church secretary opened the door from the foyer to the hall and said, "Surprise!" and a whole crowd of people in a pastel-bedecked hall were grinning madly at me, my first thought was, "What does she mean, 'Surprise'? and where are all the presvyteres?"

As I found out, in my complete and utter stupor, the entire parish, including my husband, had been in on this baby shower for a two months. People were worried that Fr. James had given away the secret they'd been trying so hard to keep with his coffee hour announcement. In a parish of more than 700 families, they couldn't believe that I really was surprised. I still am, in fact.

I am completely humbled that they went out of their ways to arrange such a lovely time to celebrate the birth of this little one who is patently so dear to us all. Whereas before the shower we had clothing for the baby consisting of a onesie and a sample newborn diaper, we are now completely equipped to clothe and diaper Bunny for months and months.

Just for the gifts and cards received at the shower, I wrote 88 thank-you notes. Usually writing thank-you notes is an onerous task, but this time I was truly overwhelmed and humbled in gratitude, and finished them in just about a 24-hour period. (This did not include the three hours of listing the presents and going through the church directory (and to get addresses.) The church secretary had been kind enough to provide stationery and to ask the guests to address their own envelopes for the thank-you notes (although the latter was rather embarrassing to me, and several people didn't quite understand that they weren't supposed to enclose a gift inside or leave room for other information (like a stamp) on the envelope—but I wasn't the hostess of the party).

While I was writing the thank-you notes, I found myself being grateful to the people who had written checks, not so much for the money, but for the fact that I could read the full name and address. A few other cards have come in the mail, and another was delivered by someone who couldn't attend the luncheon on Sunday.

Today's mail has brought another card, and, what I have been waiting for all week, the "cute" stamps my mother mailed on Monday so that I could use them with the thank-you notes. Guess I'll go find out how long it takes to write another thank-you note and stamp, seal, and mail 92 of them.

I thank God for such a community to welcome our baby.

Later: I had forgotten that we'd already handed out three thank-yous (via the church office). While I was writing the first dose of thank-you notes, my lovely husband was sorting through the gifts, like arranging the clothing into different sizes. He was the one in charge of sealing, and thoroughly trounced me as I tried to catch up with the stamps. Now we have three inches' worth of notes to mail (the post office closed an hour ago, dashing my hopes of getting them out before the long weekend). It was much more fun having him to help with things than to do it all myself; that always seems to be the case.

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Blogger DebD said...

What a lovely blessing for you. Congratulations on what sounds like a sweet surprise for you.

Sat Aug 30, 07:02:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Mimi said...

That is so awesome, and well deserved, my friend! I have tears reading about that.

Your little one is blessed!

Sat Aug 30, 08:53:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Michelle Melania said...

How wonderful! It seems like you are surrounded by some very special people.

Fri Sep 05, 01:51:00 PM CDT  

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