Friday night we had a Christmas get-together with my brother and our spouses for dinner and a show. We’ve been doing this for the last couple of years. This year was hard. It is our first Christmas without our brother, Steve, and to say he was missed would be an understatement. We all tried to ignore the empty space at the table and as we gave our holiday toast, I know we were all thinking of him. It’s still like a dagger to my heart. We ate at a swanky Italian restaurant. The wine was good, the pasta was good, the cannoli was delicious and the price was…well, let’s just say it was more than I spend on groceries for a week. But, hey, it’s only once a year and it was the first time we’ve all been together since my brother’s memorial service in June. The entire metropolitan area was under a tornado watch and we sat at the table occasionally glancing at the weather apps on our phones. I got a text message from my son saying there was a tornado on the ground in Augusta but hey, that was at least thirty miles away. On the way to the Stray Dog Theater, the lightning and rain started and by the time we reached the theater, the tornado warning sirens were going off. People make jokes that Midwesterners sit on their porches and watch the funnel clouds go by instead of seeking shelter and I guess there is some truth to that. Instead of finding somewhere safe, we were walking into the theater to take a seat while the sirens were sounding.Stray Dog is held in the Tower Grove Abbey which was a German Evangelical Church dedicated in 1912 and has now been turned into a “multi-use performance center for arts, education and community programs.” Since the Stray Dog Theater is held in an old church, the stage is on the altar and comes complete with pew seating and stained glass windows. Along with musical, dramatic and comedy plays, Stray Dog also provides arts education through after-school programs and a New Works Laboratory that supports new play development.
This one-woman play, “Who’s Holiday” is a “sequel” to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Cindy Lou Who is all grown up, has married the Grinch, had a baby, is ostracized for marrying the Grinch because he’s green, accidentally pushed him off the mountain, went to prison and is now out. Great Christmas story line. (smile). About fifteen minutes into the performance, cell phones started ringing with tornado warning alerts, so down to the basement we went. We weren’t down there long before we got to return to our seats. The tornado passed, we were safe, but many weren’t so fortunate.
The Great Hunter and I compromised on him wanting to go deer hunting so close to Christmas. He stayed home on Friday night and went to my family gathering but he got to skip the Boars Head Festival on Saturday night. The Festival was at the church my mom and brothers and I attended for over thirty years. We changed churches when my mom got upset with the church powers-that-be. We kids always joked that we got the “Shoults” temper from our dad’s side of the family, but in truth, I’m pretty sure it was mom. The Great Hunter would probably say I am my mother’s daughter, but, of course, he would be wrong (wink, wink.)
This was the 33rd year this Festival has been performed in this 160-year-old church and it was fantastic. For those unfamiliar with the Boar’s Head Festival, here’s how it’s described:
The colorful Boar’s Head ceremony became part of the Christmas celebration in the great manor houses of the Middle Ages, but had its roots in pagan times when the boar was the first dish served at a Roman feast. The Church endowed the custom with symbolic Christian meaning and elevated it to the service of God, enriching the lives of all it touched. Sponsored by the Lord of the Manor, the ceremony became a service of praise to Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe and Redeemer of the World. https://peaceboarshead.org/what-is-a-festival/
The Great Hunter missed a wonderful performance and returned Sunday afternoon, again without a Bambi. Truth be told, I don’t think it really matters to him whether he gets a deer or not, he just likes spending the time with his son.