oxymoron67: (dino head)
[personal profile] oxymoron67
This memory jarred loose by the LJ Idol topic "Burnt Sienna".

When I was a child, our parish (and I think the American Catholic Church in general, based on conversations I've had with others) treated the Catholic school kids much better than those of us who went to public school.

For instance, after his First Holy Communion, my brother became an altar boy. However, he was rarely scheduled, and, when he was, it was for the masses no one else wanted.

So, he quit. Which made the nuns say things like, "See, this is what happens when a public school child is allowed to do this."

As you can imagine, the nuns and mother had words.

Anyway, after that, I was informed that I was not going to be an altar boy. This didn't bother me. I had no desire to be one.

Fast forward to the early to mid 90's, and my eldest nephew decided to become an altar boy. By then, things had changed. The parish's school had closed and the nuns had all retired or left. The church had no choice: if it wanted to have enough altar boys, it had to use public school kids.

So, my nephew got in.

One night, he was the altar boy assigned to light all the candles on the altar. Keep in mind that this was during the Christmas season so there were about a gazillion of them. And the altar was covered in pointsettas.

Seriously, our parish priest loved pointsettas and would buy a hundred or so of them (not exaggerating) and just leave them out all over the altar.

Anyway, the nephew came out in his cassock, except that he just grabbed the first one he saw without paying attention to its size. So, instead of it covering him from head to toe, he looked like he was wearing a stylish white cocktail dress.

With pants on underneath.

He went up to the altar and started lighting all the candles.

Then he missed one. No, I'm not sure how, but he did. Instead he lit one of the pointsettas on fire. At first he didn't notice. Honestly, none of us did at first until we saw the plant burning away merrily as my nephew lit the other candles.

Then one of the burning leaves fell off the plant and onto the carpeting.

By now, my nephew realized what was had happened, but for some reason, he just froze. standing there, staring at the ... um... burning bush and the small patch of carpeting that was now also smoldering.

Honestly, we were all just kind of staring at what had happened. It was like none of us could quite believe that a) my nephew would light a plant on fire instead of a candle, b) then just continue on his merry way and c) said plant would then cause issues with the carpeting.

It was odd.

Fortunately, my sister shook herself out of the fiery stupor, and ran up to the altar, stamping out the carpet and then carrying the plant into the back, where it was put out.

Until the church closed a few years later, that patch of carpeting stayed there.

The nephew was still an altar boy, Heck, he ever got to light the candles again.

Still, my nephew set the church on fire. I'm kind of proud of that.
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October 2013

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