Church Fairs Aren’t All Sunshine And Rainbows

, , , , , , , | Working | July 10, 2020

My mother was known for the perfection and beauty of her knitted and crocheted items. She always made a couple of afghans or sweaters for the church to sell at their fairs.  

One year, a committee member approached and asked if she would make an afghan for the raffle. Mom agreed and went out to get new yarn. Those of you who knit know that yarn is not cheap and that making something beautiful and perfect takes time.

Mom created a lovely afghan: it had many rainbow squares surrounded and bordered in white. I would estimate that there was $75 worth of yarn — this was in the 1980s, so probably more today — in it, and it took her several weeks of working nights to put it together. She presented it in a nice wrap with a ribbon. All the church ladies oohed and aahed.

When I was home from my job that weekend, we went to the fair to see what was going on. We went over to the raffle table and there was… a grey and brown afghan draped over a chair and showing every dropped stitch and every oversized loop. Mom and I stared at it and then at each other.

The woman running the raffle turned to Mom and shook her head.

“I wish they had asked you to donate an afghan,” she said, “because no one wants this one.”

“I did donate an afghan,” Mom replied, and she described it in detail.

The raffle lady shook her head. “Haven’t seen it.”

Mom and I began to search the fair and finally found her afghan at the knitted items table. Or rather, behind it, hidden under several other items. The plastic wrap was removed and the ribbon was gone and it was all bunched up in a heap with a price tag of $10.  

“Oh, no,” said Mom. “That isn’t happening.”

She took the afghan and said to the knit items table lady, “I hope you don’t mind, but there is more than $75 worth of yarn in here and over a month of evenings spent working on this. This was requested for the raffle. And I found it hidden under a bunch of other items with its packaging missing.”

The table lady looked like a deer in the headlights.

“So,” continued Mom, “since you don’t think it’s worth enough to even put out on display, I will take it back and give it to someone who will enjoy it.”

“Oh, but… um—” was all the woman got out before Mom walked off with me following behind. To be honest, I had no idea what was going on because at the time, I wasn’t much of a crafter and, being a self-centered twenty-something, I was thinking, “Why is she so upset? They’re selling it, aren’t they?”

She found the person who ran the fair, told them what had happened, refused to let the item be put up for the raffle and, with the organizer’s blessing, took the afghan out to the car.

It turned out, as we learned from the organizer later, one of the ladies had snatched Mom’s afghan away and substituted the other. She was hiding it with the low price tag because, yup, she was planning on buying it herself.

When my cousin got married the next year, he and his bride received several presents from my side of the family, including a rainbow afghan bordered in soft white yarn. They still have it.

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Having A Pew Pew Fight, Part 2

, , , , | Friendly | June 19, 2020

After reading the Having A Pew Pew Fight story, I had to submit these two incidents. At sixty-five, I AM an older person, although I believe “elderly” is however old I am plus forty years. However, both of these incidents take place when I am in my late thirties.

Incident 1: I am at my usual church for 11:00 am Sunday Mass. I have arrived early as there is always a problem getting a place to sit at this particular mass. I have removed my jacket, settled my purse, and am on my knees praying when two older women come down the same pew. 

Older Woman #1: “Excuse me, miss.”

Older Woman #2: “You are in our pew!”

I cross myself and try to feel loving and kind since, you know, I am here to praise God and all.

Me: “I’m sorry.”

Older Woman #1: “I said you are in our pew. Everyone knows this is our pew!”

Me: “Uh— I didn’t know.”

I look at the pew, which is about eight feet long and which has a column going up through the end where I am sitting.

Me: “I mean, there’s still—”

Older Woman #2: “No, no, no, no. You are in our seats. You are sitting where we sit. This is our pew. Everyone knows that.”

I stare at them in disbelief, and then I decide it’s better to give them the shirt off my back, as it were, than start a fight over whose pew this is.

I gather my stuff and proceed out of the pew and they barely back up enough to let me by.  

Me: “Enjoy. Have a great day!”

Older Woman #1: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Further back.”

Older Woman #2: “Oh, that’s just silly. You don’t have to leave. You can sit on the far end.”

Me: “With all due respect, ladies. yes, I do have to move further back. Trust me.”

Incident 2: It’s right before Easter and I have been trying to get to Confession for weeks, but my church changed the hours of Confession and I am usually working when the sacrament is available. So, I go to another church that has a reputation for being snooty. 

I can attest to the snootiness, too. After I had attended several masses and no one would look at me, much less shake my hand during the sign of peace, I got the message and found my other church.

I have gotten out of the Confessional and, as there is a good half-hour before Saturday evening Mass begins, I grab a pew at the back to go through my penance prayers. And I figure I will then just stay for the Mass as Sunday is going to be a busy day.

I haven’t even gotten through one Hail Mary when I feel a forceful tapping on my shoulder. Think “Woodpecker with a glove over its nose.” Tap, tap, tap.

I look up and see two people, maybe in their early fifties, but acting as if they are over one hundred and two.

Woman: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you think you are doing, but this is our pew.”

This is literally the worst pew in the world. It’s right at the back of the church and so far to the side in front of the Confessionals that you couldn’t see the Mass if you had one of those telescopes that goes around corners.

Me: “I am just doing my penance and…”

Woman: “I said this is our pew. You have to leave now.”

I survey the whole church, which is still completely empty because Mass doesn’t start for over half an hour.

Me: “But, I—”

Man: “WE ALWAYS SIT HERE ON SATURDAY NIGHT.”

And then he adds the phrase that they seem to think should make sense for someone who rarely goes to their church.

Man: “EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT!”

I start gathering my stuff and pushing my way out because, like the other two ladies, this couple wants to make sure they get IN before I get OUT.

Me: “Enjoy your pew. I guess I will go find a more pleasant place to say my penance.”

Woman: “Oh, well, you can stay at the end if you want.”

What is this obsession with having to sit all the way in? I was taught that you take your seat and move in.

Me: “No, I don’t think so. I just finished Confession. I need to leave right now before what I am thinking turns into words and I have to go straight back in and make another report.”

No, I really wouldn’t do that, but I am so peeved with these two pew huggers I get down on their level for a minute.

Woman: “Oh, really, that’s so rude!”

Me: “Well, it is for one of us.”

I have only been back to that church once and it was for the memorial service for a friend’s infant. My friends were registered at that church because it was close, but even they agreed the vibe was annoying. It was the only time the church was filled with warmth and friendliness as no one else but the grieving couple was a member.

Seriously? I never sit in the same pew twice when I attend church and I don’t worry about someone sitting in my spot. WHO does that?

Related:
Having A Pew Pew Fight

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Having A Pew Pew Fight

, , , , , | Right | June 7, 2020

I work at a church as a sacristan helping keep the church orderly for Mass. There are often special elderly parishioners in attendance who have issues.

Old Lady #1: “This is my pew!”

Old Lady #2: “No, this is my pew.”

Me: “Excuse me, ladies. Here at [Church] we believe that community members should share the Mass together. How about both of you sit in this pew?”

Old Lady #1: “This is the 10:30 Mass and this pew is my pew for the 10:30 Mass. I have always sat in this pew for the 10:30 Mass. I have been sitting in this pew for the 10:30 Mass since 1932. Long before you or this bat have been here!”

Old Lady #2: “No, I’ve been sitting here. This is my pew!”

The conversation proceeds on like this with me trying to interject and break things up to no avail. Eventually, a priest comes over.

Priest: “Excuse me, but what seems to be the issue here?”

The two old ladies are practically at blows. They shout their pew story at the priest and he takes [Old Lady #1] by the hand and leads her to a different empty pew, talking with her all the way.

Old Lady #1: “No, no, that’s my pew!”

Eventually, we started Mass and they stopped. This happens every other week. We still have yet to figure out how to resolve it.

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Putting Words In The Pastor’s Mouth

, , , , , , , | Related | May 25, 2020

My cousin told this story at my uncle’s funeral. I thought it was hilarious.

My cousin, his wife, and his parents all go to church together. My cousin’s wife is heavily pregnant at the time. A new associate pastor is joining the church that day, and after the service, he stands at the back so everyone can greet him and introduce themselves. His wife stands next to him, and she is also heavily pregnant.

When my cousin and his wife reach the new pastor, he says, “I see your wife has the same ailment that mine has!” Everyone gives a polite chuckle, except my uncle, who glares at the new pastor and doesn’t say a word as he shakes his hand next.

My uncle still looks annoyed when they get in the car. My cousin asks him what is up.

Uncle: “That wasn’t right. A pastor shouldn’t say things like that.”

Cousin: “What do you mean?”

Uncle: “That was just rude. To say that his wife and [Cousin’s Wife] have the same mailman!”

And my cousin said that was the earliest indication that my uncle’s hearing had started to go.

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A Mass(ive) Excuse

, , , , , , | Related | May 15, 2020

I’ve always hated going to church. Starting when I was about six, I’ve used any and every excuse I could find to get out of attending Mass on Sundays, ranging from faking sick to hiding until church was over. My parents wised up to my excuses and found all my hiding spots over the years, making it much harder to escape church.

One Sunday when I’m eleven, my mom is out of town. Thinking it’ll be easier to pull one over on my dad, I try the old fake-sick routine.

Due to several chronic health conditions, I’m prone to fainting in the right — or wrong, I suppose — circumstances. I skip breakfast that morning so that my act will be more believable. However, it doesn’t work, and my dad makes me go to church anyway. Since I haven’t had anything to eat or drink at all, I actually do start to feel faint on the way over.

I also happen to be in the process of losing my last baby tooth. It’s not quite ready to come out yet, but I spend the first half of Mass pushing at it with my tongue. If I can knock it out, I’ll be able to miss at least ten minutes of Mass. I eventually succeed and start to ask my dad if I can go to the restroom. He shakes his head immediately, knowing that there’s no chance I’ll willingly come back into Mass if I’m allowed to leave. When I smile and spit my bloody tooth into my hand, he begrudgingly allows me to go.

I go to the restroom and rinse out my mouth. But since the tooth wasn’t ready to come out yet, my gums just keep bleeding, more heavily than with any other tooth I’ve lost. Between the fact that I already was feeling faint, the blood loss, and seeing all the blood, I start to pass out. I’m used to this, so I sit on the floor against the wall to wait for it to pass.

I’m only semi-conscious for a while. At one point, I vaguely notice the sound of the door opening, and then several seconds later, I hear a bloodcurdling scream. My music teacher, a sweet old lady with a morbid penchant for true crime documentaries and police procedurals, has come into the bathroom to find one of her students collapsed on the floor, mouth hanging open with a trickle of blood leaking out. She assumes I have been murdered. She runs back to the rest of the congregation, screaming bloody murder.

My memory of the next hour or so is a little fuzzy, but I know a lot of people were packed into that tiny restroom. It quickly became apparent that I had not, in fact, been murdered or harmed in any way. I was given something to drink, and I believe an EMT checked me over while I was semi-lucid. Once everyone calmed down, they decided I just needed to eat something and lie down. I was fine within an hour.

A couple of years later, my parents finally gave up on forcing me to attend church. I’ve only been back for weddings and funerals since then. Every single time I’ve attended one of my more religious cousins’ weddings, someone has jokingly asked if I’m going to knock out my own tooth to skip the Mass portion of the wedding.


This story was featured in our May 2020 roundup!

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