Saint Helen of Chicagoland

If you read my blog yesterday, then you know that a) I am lame, and b) it was Helen’s birthday. As promised, here’s my little Ode to Helen:

No songs, no beautiful haiku’s, wonderful polka videos. Many of my bloggy gal pals paid tribute to Helen yesterday, and they did it up right. But because I want those of you who don’t know my friend Helen to see what I see in her, that’s what I will attempt to do here.

Helen has been reading Hey Look a Chicken for almost as long as I have been writing it. I believe her very first comment here was on my post, The Top Ten things your friend/significant other with ADD wants you to know but keeps forgetting to tell you:

Helen said: I happen to be cdo. That is like ocd, but in proper alphabetical order, as it ought to be!

And that, as they say, was the start of a beautiful friendship. If you follow @helenatrandom on the twitter, then you already know what a great sense of humor she has. What you probably cannot surmise on 140 characters or less is that this funny gal is also compassionate, loyal, articulate and incredibly intelligent.

Okay, so many of you might be asking yourselves, “If she’s so smart, why does she follow this blog?” Answer: Shut up, who asked you? Okay, real answer? I think we’re kindred spirits. We’ve both had obstacles to overcome. Still do. But Helen handles things with grace, humor and a heart for God.

I don’t think I could pick just one favorite post from Random Musings, but the following excerpt is from one of my favorites. It’s Helen at her transparent best:

I have especially good memories of being a child on my way to and from school, passing a house that had beautiful light up nativity in front of their house. How I loved it! I remember walking up to the baby Jesus as a kindergartner, with my mom calling after me “Helen, I taught you better than to walk on the grass. You don’t even know these people! They might be angry!”.

I remember a middle aged (probably thirty-nine like me) woman coming outside in her house dress, telling mom it was okay, not to worry about it, I have her permission to stay on the lawn as long as I like, and come as often as I like. That was so nice of her. Poor lady. I don’t think she realized that I would take that as permission to come and kneel before the Christ child every day the nativity was up, every year through eighth grade.

Actually, she never came outside when I was there again. But, God bless her, she never said “Stop it already. You are no longer small and cute when you do this! You are absolutely frightening!” I mean, think about it. I probably looked like I should be riding the short bus. And, while I could read and write well above my grade level, and could hold my own in math, I was rather slow socially. Obviously. And, of course, I thought it was every body else.

My poor mother.

I was probably in Sixth Grade the day I came home half an hour late with my knees wet from the snow. It was the first day baby Jesus was up that year, and I had a lot to say.

Mom was always a worrier, and my coming home that late (very over protective) with pants wet from the knee down pushed her to the edge. She was yelling “Where were you? What on earth could you have been doing?” etc, I’m sure you all know the drill. And I look at her like she was…..well, acting strangely and say “Mom, didn’t you know the Nativity on the next block was up today? Where else could I have been?” Of course, she tries to convince me that the permission given me was not for all eternity, but I said “Wouldn’t they just say something already if they changed their minds?” Mom was exasperated with me, so I tried to keep my time with the nativity short from then on.

On my way to school, I would wave to the Holy Family, then stop to talk to them for a moment on my way home. Yeah. I know. Short bus. I looked like a big dumb kid. But I didn’t care. I wish I cared a little less now….

By the time I entered college, the family either moved, or didn’t put the nativity out any more. Either way, by then I was too grown up by then to do childish things, and not grown up enough to do child like things.

I do still cherish these memories. Every time I see an outdoor Nativity, I reflect on how I can receive Him like a child now. I guess the answer is to just love Him without wondering how I am being perceived by others.

In case you were wondering, we do not put out an outdoor Nativity (my husband doesn’t like them, and I have submitted to him on this matter), though I have Nativity sun catchers in my window displaying the story of that glorious day. I have not seen any children gazing in wonder, but if I do, I will be sure to tell them to get as close as they like, take as long as they like, and come as often as they like.

In interest of full disclosure, the set above is not the one I remember from my youth, but it is beautiful, isn’t it?

So, that’s my friend Helen at Random Musings. Did your world just get a little brighter? I know mine did.

Happy Belated Birthday, my friend! Here’s another Nativity scene for you:

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