Joyful and Triumphant by Hunter Wright
December 13, 2014 § 3 Comments
And along comes another of Brevity‘s Holiday Smile contest memories:
When I first started going to sleepovers, my mom always said to “be mindful of how other families act and then do the same, with a smile.” That means, if they say a prayer before dinner, you have to say a prayer before dinner. If they take off their shoes at the door, you’re leaving your shoes at the door. And most of all, if they’re all going to church the next morning, you’re not sick.
Shelby’s church is a branch of Christianity in which everyone gives better hugs than anyone in my family. The two of us dress up like city girls, she with heavy earrings and cheetah-print pants and me with heels and leather jacket. This is acceptable, because over the church’s entrance is a banner that reads “We Dig Jesus!”
In the lobby, strangers say hello like we just crossed the Red Sea instead of the highway. In the pews, the holiday hymns begin and everyone belts it like whoever sings loudest loves God most. I get the giggles when I imagine my dad in church every few years, making up the words to what he doesn’t feel like singing. Me – I just don’t know the songs.
But if the family is singing, you’re singing too.
I’ve just finished my own rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” when the preacher says, “How many of you are sinners?”
I look around. Everybody raises their hands, Shelby’s whole family, little old ladies, everybody. “We’re all sinners!” the microphone booms, and the guy points right at me, the only audience member taken aback by how unpleasant that sounds.
I remember Mom’s advice then, but everyone’s hands are already coming down.
I do the only thing left I can.
I look the man in the eyes, shrug once, and smile.
Hunter Wright was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley of California and now attends the University of Miami in Florida. She is currently working on a collection of short stories based on interviews with the elderly. On Mondays, she co-hosts a radio talk show about all things literary.
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