Snow = Warm Childhood Memories.

SnowmanHappy Snow Day!  Isn’t it fun waking up to the first snowfall of the year?  Especially right around Christmas: it brings back such warm memories of unabashed childhood frolicking, days off from school, and warm hot chocolate by the fireplace.

Unless, of course, you spent all of your childhood Christmases visiting your conservative, ultra religious maternal family in Enoree, South Carolina.

Growing up in a very left leaning, typical ‘McChristian’ household (sure we went to church… every Easter), in a liberal city like Seattle, let’s just say that my memories of these annual holiday visits were less than fond.  I might as well have been dropped off on the moon for two weeks, so bizarre and foreign the culture:  All this talk of sinning, judgment, Heaven and Hell.  God was at every turn….. watching.

trinity_baptistAnd God’s attention mainly focused on the First Baptist Church of Enoree, the sun by which all activity in this town of 2,000 rotated.

It was here, in 1981, which the second most humiliating moments of my childhood occurred.  (The first was when I spent an hour stuck in my locker in third grade.)

As she did every year, my grandmother had enrolled me in daily Vacation Bible School classes for the entire visit.  And on the third day, a Sunday, my morning started with this conversation:  “Well of course you hate Bible School, Jenny,” my mother said, sharing my aversion on all things Southern Baptist. “…. But you have to do what we all did growing up here:  Tolerate it nicely and keep your mouth shut.”

So off I went, dreading the next three hours with Miss Aileen, the child-despising Sunday school teacher.  Aileen Wiggins, who doubled as the choir’s organ accompanist, was married to Luther, who spent every Sunday’s sermon clipping his fingernails in the back pew.

To this day, I can’t sit through any church service without the faint sounds of clip, clip, clip tugging at my imagination.

At any rate, that particular Sunday, Miss Aileen, in her 1960’s style cat eyeglasses, announced a special surprise:  The children were to stand before the congregation and sing the songs we’d been singing in the previous week’s Bible School.

I can remember it like it was yesterday, “Now wouldn’t that be precious!” 

Ambush!  Caught totally unawares, I cut my eyes at Sissy Greene, who had nothing for me but a smug smirk.  For Sissy was perfect:  A flaxen haired fourth grader with a sweet southern drawl whom my grandmother regularly referred to as “The Lord’s Child” and could recite all bible songs from memory.

Once on stage, Miss Aileen announced we had a visitor in our midst – and set about introducing me as: “Miss Winifred’s grandbaby from ‘The North’.”

Then, in her syrupy voice laced with passive aggression:  “Jenny, how about you step forward and show the congregation what you’ve learned this week.  You can sing by yourself, right?  How about we start with ‘This Little Light of Mine’.”

So, in front of the 200 person congregation at First Baptist Church of Enoree, I failed miserably, only recalling the first few lines of the song.

For I hadn’t realized we’d be given a pop quiz.

Miss Aileen then called on Sissy Greene, “to show us how it should be sang.” And Sissy belted her little heart out, including the last of the four verses of the song:

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
serpent bangleLet it shine, all the time, let it shine

That really wasn’t nice of Miss Aileen, was it?

But, ooh!, check out our new jewelry line:  Satya!  Unlike Miss Aileen, this gold serpent bangle is really nice: