you’re a strange man, charlie brown

I thought the caricature  artist  was taking too many liberties with my chin as he sketched me standing on the roof of a house with a rope in my hands.  I was lowering my companion, Elder J. de Souza, down the chimney.  He had a Book of Mormon under his arm and his narrow eyes in the drawing gave him a vague Asian look.  It was as likely for there to be chimneys in the state of Sao Paulo as there was for my companion to fit down them and even more unlikely that I would be the one at the top holding the rope.  I always thought that caricatures were meant to be exaggerations, not bald-faced lies.  Whatever my misconceptions, I was pleased with the end result and we paid the artist what probably amounted to thirteen American dollars for our yule-themed drawing.

We continued through the fair that lined the street near the town’s square.  Being near Christmas, it was filled with holiday trinkets alongside the 80’s shirts and neon headbands that normally filled the folding tables.  I held a R$5 bootleg copy of Windows XP and wondered if my parents back home had upgraded.  It probably wasn’t worth it, I thought.  They probably wouldn’t want to have to click Iniciar in order to play Solitaire.

My companion found a box of Christmas lights for 1 real.  Several days earlier we had gotten a three foot tall real Christmas tree and it still sat undecorated in the living room.  He bought it and tucked it away into our industrial-strength fanny packs that were standard issue in our mission.  I was initially against to the fanny-packs, my American sense of fashion being deeply offending, but I softened my opposition with the Brazilian heat and the realization that fanny packs were there least alarming articles of clothing to be seen on the streets of Sao Paulo.  I took particular pride in my fanny pack.  I traded it with an old companion who was puzzled that I would be so interested in it.  It was ratty and was partially tied together, but it was for that very reason that I wanted it.  It was the only bag in the mission that had successfully survived being hit by a bus.  As my old companion was crossing the street he narrowly escaped being run over by the speeding but, but his bag wasn’t so lucky.  To have such an interesting artifact, I considered myself very lucky.  Elder J. de Souza and I continued on our way in the summer sun.

Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons were reversed from back home and as we scanned through the Christmas decorations in the fair, the temperature reached into the nineties.  Or at least  I assumed it was in the 90’s.  Brazil was on the metric system so my judgment of the temperature generally was that above 30 degrees was hot.  Above 40 degrees and we needed to go stand in front of the Pernabucana’s department store, the one building in town that had air conditioning.

We arrived home and excitedly wound our Christmas lights around our tree.  When we plugged it in, we basked in the glowing nostalgia that emanated from the tiny fir.  It lasted a good three minutes before half of the strand burned out.  The lower half of the tree still looked nostalgic, but it wasn’t quite enough.  A couple of days later we bought another R$1 strand of Christmas lights and completed the tree’s decoration…for a few days.  Half of this new strand blew leaving a strip in the middle dark.  It was like the tree was wearing a dark, grinchy belt.

We bought another box of lights and patched the gaps left by the other two strands.  Our little three-foot tree shone bright and sagged only slightly under the nearly twenty feet of lights on its branches.

Christmas Eve I took a nap before eating midnight Christmas dinner with the family whose carriage house we rented.  When the clock struck twelve, we stood on the hilltop and watched fireworks explode in the dark, Brazilian sky.

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  1. I liked that. Merry Christmas friend.

    Posted December 5, 2007 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  2. Wow, it worked! I very much enjoyed this. I was on break as I read it at work.
    You know, you should write a book.

    Posted December 6, 2007 at 12:14 am | Permalink
  3. Kay

    May want to consider using this for the party.

    Posted December 6, 2007 at 10:16 am | Permalink