Parson Brown

We were relaxing on a decidedly un-Decemberly day, the kind we have most of each December, when there was a knock at the door.

I opened it, and you could have knocked me over with a sprig of mistletoe. It was Parson Brown.

Actually, he was rounder and whiter and colder than the parson. After all, he was made of snow.

Yes, a snowman, one whom my wife and I had made days earlier on a vacation a few states to the North.

As we stood in the doorway, I thought back to that all-too-short vacation. Although snow blanketed the ground, the sun was bright in the western sky. JoAn and I really were walking in a winter wonderland. It reminded us of that holiday song by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith.

“What do you want to do before it gets dark?” I asked, and she immediately knew.

“In the meadow, we can build a snowman,” she said. “We can even pretend that he is Parson Brown.”

I could hear the wheels spinning in her head as she spoke:

“He’ll say, ‘Are you married?’ and we’ll say, ‘No, man, but you can do the job when you’re in Martinez.’”

I was lost.

“But we are married,” I told her. “Why would we lie to him?”

“Because that will give him a holly, jolly Christmas that we all will cherish forever.”

I went along with her. We built the snowman, dressed him in a warm hat and a scarf and an old overcoat from the car. He was perfect, and when we went back to our hotel that night, we conspired as we dreamed by the fire.

My mind suddenly bolted back to the present.

“What brings you here?” I asked.

“I’m here to make good on your promise,” the kindly parson said. “That I would perform the ceremony for your wedding when I’m in town. I’ve got all the paperwork ready.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Parson, but we’ve been married for years.”

“What?” he snapped. “Look, I did all this work and traveled down here to make you a happy, wedded couple.”

“We’re already that. We had no idea you would travel to this land of climate change and El Nino heat,” I said uncomfortably.

“Tell me about it,” he said, taking off his top hat and wiping his brow. “I feel so used.”

“Please, come in and let’s talk about this,” I said.

I took him into the living room, where my wife greeted the parson and then pointed out that he was dragging water across the carpet.

She went to turn the thermostat down.

When she returned, though, he was only a puddle. She got a mop and handed it to me.

“Your guest, your mess,” she said.

“He was here to perform our wedding,” I explained.

“Hunh,” she said. “You missed a spot.”

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