It’s that time of year when the conversation around the dinner table in the rectory has to do with mean or nice.
I have to admit this is not my favorite conversation because what is mean and what is nice? It all depends on who you are talking to. The gracious mistress of the presbytery has a different definition of these words from mine.
According to my wife, nice has to do with broccoli, and nasty has to do with apple fritter.
I’m afraid I wouldn’t agree with that because as far as I’m concerned, nice has to do with apple fritter and ugly has to do with broccoli. I’m not sure you can get nastier than broccoli. At least I can’t.
But at this time of year, the definition of mean and nice is determined by an overweight guy living at the North Pole who abuses reindeer. If you think I’ll listen to his definition, you don’t know me.
I don’t want Santa to determine if I’m mean or nice because I don’t trust this guy.
Why would I trust a guy who only works one day of the year and lives the rest of the time somewhere in the North Pole? He’s almost, but not quite, as bad as the politicians. But at least Santa Claus works one day of the year.
“So,” my wife began, “do you think you’ve been nice this year?”
As a husband for almost half a century, I know a trick question when presented to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have been deceived by any of these questions.
“Well,” I stammered, “how do you think I’ve been doing during the year?”
I was willing to put it back on her shoulders and let her go with it. My wife is an expert in many areas and, in particular, in interrogations. I am an expert in interrogation failures.
Throughout my life, I have learned that it is not what I think that really matters, but what others particularly think of me. It’s not that I think I was nice this year, but did my wife think I was nice.
Looking very thoughtfully as she usually does when questioning me, she says, “Well, there was this incident earlier this year about a lizard on my pillow.”
It was all I could do to hold back a laugh. I remember this incident very well at a motel in Saint-Augustin. I can still see this lizard looking at my wife.
“You have to admit,” I explained, “that lizard was quite a nice little creature.”
“If that’s your definition of nice,” she says very emphatically, “then you’ve failed the test”.
I wouldn’t say that out loud so she could hear me, but it was a test I loved to fail.
After pausing for a moment or two, she said, “Then there’s the incident about the virus on my leg while I was driving.”
Although I tried to suppress any outward expression of laughter, it was beyond my control.
“So, do you think it was good that this virus was on my leg, knocking me into the car in front of me?”
I almost forgot about it, but no one was injured in the incident.
“What does Nice have to do with this kind of bug on my leg?”
Then, to my surprise, she burst out laughing as well.
For some people, what is good is not good for others. What’s bad isn’t necessarily bad according to someone else’s estimate.
All of these things that she brought to my attention weren’t things I was working on. It was something that came without any influence on my part. My role was to laugh at the incident and enjoy it for weeks on end.
As the room calmed down, I finally raised my question.
“So,” I started, “do you think you’ve been nice this year?”
The roles were now turned and I wanted to rush her with some of my interrogations.
I’m not a very good interrogator, especially when it comes to questions about my wife. But I thought since she brought it up, I would go on and see where it took us.
She looked at me for a while, then said, “I think I was too nice because I gave you so much to write about.” Then she looked at me with one of those “dark looks”.
First, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I was worried that his NICE would turn into his NAUGHTY, and I wouldn’t be able to handle that.
After a few moments of silence, she burst out laughing. I was relieved, to say the least.
We enjoyed a few moments of shared laughter, which greatly lightened our day. Come to think of it, there was another interesting aspect of our relationship.
This beautiful aspect is that my wife is not a writer, otherwise I would be in trouble.
Later that day, I thought about the Bible verse. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1: 7).
Our relationship is not based on kindness or wickedness but rather on the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.