Betty Duffy

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Full of it

Driving up to my in-laws on a two lane highway, my husband and I tried to remember which of the pieced-together, badly-renovated, vinyl-sided houses that line the road was the one that got hit by a semi-truck last year.

“I think it was that one,” my husband said, pointing to a particularly dilapidated house. But I knew he was wrong, and didn’t feel like letting him rest in his mistake.

“No, it’s further north,” I said. Apparently the driver of the semi fell asleep behind the wheel and pummeled into the living room of a home set about twenty feet off the road. The home has been an emblem of horror and curiosity for us—the embodiment of how “this very night, your life may be demanded of you” while you sit in a recliner watching a football game. Whenever we go to my in-laws, we look for the house. It’s just what we do.

“I hate to break it to you,” my husband said, “But you’re full of crap. In fact that’s one of the things I’ve had to get used to being married to you, is that you always think you’re right, but you’re usually wrong.”

“Well, Happy Thanksgiving!” I said, a little bruised, but wondering how long he’d been waiting to make this remark. He’s had to get used to my being full of crap. It’s taken time for him, yet it is a matter of fact that I’m full of crap. And then I felt happy for him, because I’d finally served him his moment to get that thought off his chest.

Full of crap, I may be; I was still right, and he was not. Nevertheless, I decided to let him have his little drive-by victory. That could be the house if he wanted it to be. I can be wrong if he wants me to be. Not worth fighting over.

In the past I have fought over things that are not worth fighting over. One year for Christmas, my husband wanted to put up the Christmas tree in the spot occupied by my great-grandmother’s dining room table. We didn’t have room for the table, but it was an antique, a family heirloom, with which I did not feel I could part, so I had it crammed in a corner to use as an end-table. My husband wanted it out. It crowded the room, and putting the Christmas tree in that spot was a way to make the first step toward getting rid of it. We could put it in the garage during the Christmas season, and then onward to elsewhere for my grandmother’s table.

When he attempted to move the table, I sat on it, so he couldn’t lift it. And I kept sitting on it for about five hours. We had turned on the Christmas music, and brought the decorations down from the attic. The kids were excited about putting up the tree, but there would be no tree raising that night, because mommy was sitting on the table, and would not get off. There would also be no dinner that night, no bedtime prayer—because mommy had to win, and she was willing to do anything to stake her territory.

I knew, sitting there, that my husband was right. We didn’t have room for the table. But it was mine. MINE! If I caved on the table, then he’d start working on my desk, MY DESK, for which we also don’t have room, and which likewise takes up a large portion of real estate in the corner of the dining room. He’d been mentioning how he’d like to replace my desk with a smaller model, but I need space for my muse to spread out. If I retrenched on the table, and then the desk, the next thing I knew he’d be asking for my soul.

In last week’s Sunday Gospel, Jesus said to Pilate, “If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” But his attendants are not fighting to keep him. They are having a sit-in on the dining room table to protest the placement of a Christmas tree.

“If we say that God is really the ruler of all the earth, and all earthly authorities, we must ask ourselves whom we honor and why, whom we praise and why, whom we obey and why.” (Magnificat, Wednesday, Nov. 18)

After five hours of sitting on top of my table, ruining Christmas for my kids, it became very clear that I had spent too much time fighting to preserve my own sovereignty. Ultimately, I came down from the table and apologized to my kids. Of my own volition, I called my parents and asked them to take the table and give it to someone else in the family.

This time, in the car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner, I decided not to waste the hours asserting my rightness. I let it drop, and we drove on peacefully after gawking at the (wrong) house that got hit by a semi truck.


Anne said...

Your blog is quickly becoming a favorite of mine! The image of a woman sitting on a table for 5 hours is a hoot!

My parents were antique dealers and my mom was extremely attached to her furniture. She always complained that she could never get to heaven because she loved her furniture too much.

I never thought that I had very much of my mom in me and proudly gave away furniture to others who seemed to need it more. When my husband and I were first married we had a little table that seated four. I gave it to my sister-in-law and forgot all about it. We were at her house for Thanksgiving and she was using it. It was so beautiful that suddenly, I missed it terribly and was so sorry that I gave it to her. My mom does live on in me!!! There is no room in my house for that table and my family of seven could never sit around it, but still how I would love to have it!

Good for you for giving that table away. Your soul is so much more free without it! :)

Happy Advent!

Jamie said...

Love this post!

Emily J. said...

So where DID that table end up?

Marie said...

Of course you're full of crap, any great story teller must be. Or maybe that's just my family tradition. . . .

I'm going to consider the ball dress and the table sit to be bookends of this blog.

BettyDuffy said...

Anne, I've definitely had the furniture envy experience. We have no antiques dealers in the family, but my Grandparents held on to everything, so there's a lot of antique furniture trafficking between my sibs and I. When my grandparents broke up housekeeping and asked everyone to come and pick out whatever they wanted, I was going through a pious phase and said that I didn't want anything I couldn't fit in the trunk of the car. It didn't take long to regret that decision--especially after I saw some very nice pieces looking good in my sister's living room. But I've obviously managed to accumulate more than enough furniture over time.

Em J--the table is now crammed under the window as an end table at Mom's. Need a new dining room table?

Marie, perhaps we who are full of crap are difficult to live with, but hopefully, we keep things interesting...a family tradition worth maintaining.

Suzywoozy said...

Wow.. so familiar! I have four siblings, and each one ALWAYS needs to be right. Love that you're honest enough to show yourself with all the imperfections and weaknesses.


Hope said...

My worst moment of being right was when I was trying to get my husband to see my point of view and he was having none of it. I was trying to point out how unhealthy his perspective was. I was so frustrated I jumped up and down and screeched, "I'm the healthy one here." Um, yah.