I noticed the writing assignment the other day about relating a funny Christmas story, and thought about it, but sadly I realized I really couldn’t think of anything funny about Christmas. The only thing that kept coming to mind was a little incident at a wedding I attended, but in fairness, the wedding was in December. Since the cat seems to be out of the bag, so to speak, that I sing a bit, I thought I would tell about it. People often ask me which is more difficult, singing at a wedding or a funeral, and I never hesitate when I answer. Definitely weddings by far because most funerals aren’t videotaped.
For some unknown reason to me, I seem to attract strange people sometimes. Not strange in the dangerous sense, but more like people with an odd sense of humor. This fact doesn’t bother me because usually these people have better stories to tell and make me laugh more than others. One such friend was Troy.
Troy was a great guy. He was one of those mixtures of generous and cranky which always makes for a great Southern character. He loved to tell off-color jokes and try to embarrass the more genteel lady, and because I never let him get the best of me, I think that’s why we hit if off. He had married into my husband’s family so I had occasions to be around him at family gatherings, and I always enjoyed how his family always seemed to be making excuses for him or fussing at him about his antics.
One day his wife called me at home and said, “Pattie, Troy died.” To say I was shocked is an understatement, and it was one of the few times in my life I was totally speechless. “He always loved your singing so much, and he wanted you to sing at his funeral.” As I muddled through words trying to think of something to say, she suddenly broke into laughter and said, “Pattie, I’m kidding! Actually, my son is getting married, and we were wondering if you’d sing.” As I started to laugh it was then that I knew Troy had been behind the whole thing. Getting all the details, I made arrangements with the pianist to practice the one song I was not familiar with, and also to go over “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Everything was in place. There was another person singing before me, and we were sitting on the stage behind the pastor facing the audience. Between us and the pastor stood two arches of candles on each side of the stage. The ceremony was proceeding smoothly when the young man got up to sing. As I sat there enjoying his song, I noticed one of the candles starting to list a bit to the side. Although it concerned me a little, it still wasn’t in a dangerous position, so I didn’t worry, but when that second candle started to slide a little, too, I’ll admit I became a little more anxious. Now, my quandary is do I jump up and catch these candles before they hit the floor, which will surely make a scene during his song, or do I wait until the lit candles plop onto the floor and take a chance on setting the carpet and possibly the pastor’s pants on fire?
I sat there and thought to myself, “If they’ll just hang on until I get up, then maybe I can make a swoop by there and straighten them up on my way to the front.” The young man kept on singing, causing me to wonder if Kenny Rogers had ever taken that long to sing that song. By this time, pretty much all the candles were beginning to take a nosedive in the stand, and I was beginning to lose faith in my former plan. Besides that, in this wedding there had been somebody in charge of all details, and I really wasn’t in charge of candles.
Fortunately, just before I was to sing, the pastor called for prayer, and I saw my opportunity. As everybody bowed their heads and the pastor started pleading with God to bless this union, I poked the young man sitting beside me and pointed to the faltering candles, and we both grabbed this opportunity to quickly jump up and reset the candles in the upright position. I rose to sing and everything else went off without a hitch. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get a chance to see the video, though, because I would love to have seen the faces of those two bright-eyed young people as they watched us on the tape.