by Donal Mahoney
You see the oddest things at Christmas-time in America. The
bigger the city, the stranger the sights.
I was driving downtown to buy gifts for the family and enjoying
bouquets of beautiful people bundled in big coats and colorful scarves. They
were clustered on corners and shopping in good cheer amid petals of snow
dancing in the sun.
One of the people was a beautiful young lady who had stopped to
take issue with an old woman in a shawl picketing Planned Parenthood. The old
woman was picketing on a motor scooter designed for the elderly. She held a
sign bigger than she was and kept motoring back and forth. She was as resolute
and granite-faced as my Aunt Polly who had been renowned for protesting any
injustice she had perceived.
Saving the seals wherever human beings might be clubbing them to
death had been very important to Aunt Polly. She left all of her money to an
organization devoted to saving the seals.
On this day, however, the beautiful young lady who had taken
issue with the old woman on the motor scooter was livid. She marched behind the
scooter and yelled at the old woman, pounding her fist into her palm and
screaming things I could not hear. The old woman appeared oblivious to the
chaos in her wake. Maybe she was deaf, I thought, like my aunt. That can be an
advantage when loud people disagree with you.
The letters on the sign were huge but I couldn't read them so I
drove around the block and found a spot at the curb. It was then that I
realized that the sign said, "What might have happened if Mary of Nazareth had
Now I understood why the young lady was ranting and raving and
why the old woman kept motoring to and fro. At Christmastime in America people
get excited, more so than usual.
When I got home I hid my packages and told my wife at supper
what I had seen. I also told her that if Mary had chosen otherwise, I wouldn't
have had to go shopping today.
That's obvious, she said.