A Christmas Dinner Prayer. Pfeltner 1994 Haiku
“Why don’t you give the Christmas blessing this year,” mother said.
I had never given the blessing much thought and I didn’t really know what to say. During the blessing, I normally eyed the table trying to pick out the best piece of fried chicken and locating the gravy and butter for the mashed potatoes. I looked around the table trying to recall what had been said in years gone bye. Dad would usually make excuses for the missing faces, and then say something about being grateful for the ones who came, and being grateful for the food. There were other items he mentioned, but I don’t recall what they were.
I made a quick count of the missing faces. I thought of the car wrecks, heart attacks, and a war whose outcome amounted to nothing. There was much to be said, but nothing that would mater. I thought of the millions that have died and the countless lies that had been told that were supposed to make it all right. The centuries of deaths that lead to our existence and the future of our unborn children and what we have left them to face. I thought of the ozone layer, chemical poisoning, politicians, and wondered where it would all end. The food was getting cold and people were waiting for me to begin.
I looked at the table colorful and grand with a craft of wine, a large bowl of salad covered with shrimp, a roast beef, the fried chicken and deviled eggs, and finally I spotted the gravy bowl just to the left of my plate. The food was what we were here for so that is what I should talk about. I closed my eyes in search of poetic thoughts. I saw the tears of grapes saved in a bottle and from the barnyard I saw the young butchered calf roasted tender and rare. The little red hen fresh form the frying pan placed neatly on a platter. The twelve little chicks that could have been were boiled, halved, and covered with red powder. Suddenly my heart was frantic as tears began to form. I heard the silent screams of torn lettuce drowning in oil and the shrimp boiled alive and the crushed cranberries floating in their own blood. I shook my head and opened my eyes. Somewhere along the way I had taken a wrong turn. A few words like that and no one could eat. I was sweating, minutes had passed, and still I had nothing to say.
I took a couple of breaths and wiped the sweat from my face. It was Christmas so He would have to be in the prayer somewhere. Each new thought only proved worse than the last. This wasn’t working so I bowed my head and blindly began.
“We stand on the shoulders of millions, yet we are allowed to mourn only one. I am grateful for all I have received and for the opportunity to fight for the future of the yet unborn.”
Mother raised her head and smiled, “That wasn’t so hard, take a biscuit and start them to the left. You can say the blessing every Christmas form now on.”
I passed the rolls and looked around the table. I was sweating and my heart was slowly returning to normal. We don’t eat rocks so something must die for us to live. I hate living a lie, but the truth is hard to accept. We are merely vultures in the trees awaiting the calf’s dying breath. The mind is complex and sometimes requires one to deal with life and death, or even a meal. I approached the roast with my fork and stabbed it in the eye, carving the largest piece. After all the calf was dead and I am not. Let’s keep it that way.
“If you insist mother, has anyone seen the butter,” I replied?