Yesterday was thanksgiving day in our village. Definitely not the holiday it is in the United States. Gee, maybe I should post this to Lost in Transit… Anyway. All they do in our village is dress up in suits and dresses based on traditional wear, giving everyone a real rural look, like the way a foreigner who’s seen “Sound of Music” might be forgiven for imagining Austrians dress all the time. Then the farmers carry corn and nuts and wheat and stuff, local products (but no livestock) into the church and the priest blesses it all and makes a long speech.
And little kids carry little baskets with fruit and nuts and flowers and that gets blessed too. Including our youngest.
Not being Catholic, my mind wandered during the service, as usual. My wife told me later she could actually see it wandering.
They’ve painted the interior of the church, I noticed, improved heating (it used to be freezing inside) and lighting (it’s now fairly brightly lit, no longer dark) and they seem to have restored the Bearded Madonna painting, which is what I call, only to myself, a large painting that used to be surrounded by lightbulbs (I used to pass the time counting how many were burned out) which I suppose were impressive and holy-looking in the days when lightbulbs were cutting edge technology; now they’ve been replaced with candles and a big holy golden frame; the Madonna and Child are wearing silver crowns – real silver crowns have been glued onto the painting – and the Child is reaching up to the Madonna’s chin so it looks like he’s tugging on a long goatee.
And the priest still has his combover, and still pronunces two words funny so that my wife and I elbow each other whenever he says them. And Robot Voice Lady was sitting directly behind us. She thoroughly creeped me out in the parts, whatever they’re called, the Q&A parts, the shout-out parts, you know, the Priest says something and the
crowd audience congregation answers something or repeats what he says. This woman spoke in a very weird monotone, as if she were trying to approximate a Gregorian-Monk-Chanting-in-Latin style, but it sounded to me as if she were saying [Robot voice] I ABANDON MY PERSONALITY AND THE CORE OF MY BEING TO THIS HERE CULT.
Then we shook hands with everyone, and I got out two Euro to put into the collection basket, only they weren’t passed around, instead two fellows stood at the exit and we dropped money in as we went out. Then we waited for the little one.
Who emerged with a two Euro coin in her hand, and we asked her (doh) where she got it and she said “that nice man with the basket.”
So we broke even at Church yesterday. Then there was an Agape, a get-together in the churchyard, they had tables set up with food and drink. The little one had a soda, I had a glass of white wine and a slice of bread with lard and those gritty bits that are left over from a roast spread on top (mmm); my wife had a glass of red and bread with some harmless cheese spread, I think. At nine-thirty in the morning.
Then we went to another village and watched people play medieval music on more or less original instruments and sing in middle-high German and we ate sausages and drank wine and beer for lunch. I got a buzz from the beer and it, and the beautiful sunshine, made me euphoric, and I stood around watching the little one in a bouncy castle and thinking deep thoughts.