During my childhood, I never really knew why one family would nod off in church every Sunday.
Occupying the same self-assigned pew, they were positioned right in front of where my family religiously sat.
The father would be decked out in his suit and tie; the mother in her shirtwaist linen dress, white cotton gloves and a chapel veil, bobby-pinned to her head; the two daughters, also veiled, usually wore matching outfits � percale in summer, wool in winter.
As a kid, I confess, I probably paid more attention to that family than I did to the priest�s homilies.
This was not a simple case of Grandma or Grandpa napping. No way. Every last one of them � the mom, the dad and the two girls would conk out right during Mass.
If their pets were along � a dog, a cat or maybe even a hamster � would they have been sleeping, too, I wondered?
I can still see all four of them hunched over with heads synchronously sinking, bobbing and then bending low until their chins were firmly planted on their chests.
Entertaining myself, I kept track of how many times during the liturgy their lights would go out. Then, I�d count the nods � 120, 121, 122, 123, 124 and so on, secretly worrying about what God was thinking.
Heaven knows, just watching them made me feel sleepy, too.
Triggered by the first notes of organ music, the first verses of the epistle reading, or the first words of the sermon, this family�s predictable, systematic manner of dozing was set in motion.
Did they stay out too late the night before? Watch too many late, late shows? Were the four of them working the night shift? Or had they partied too hard?
At last, when the communion bells rang, the family finally awoke with a start, and then, groggily found their to the communion rail.
I suppose they also missed out on plays, concerts, recitals and conversations. They probably didn�t see the end of a lot of TV shows, newscasts and whatnot.
Maybe if they had known what happened to Bible characters who fell asleep when they shouldn�t have, they would have tried harder to stay awake�
Adam woke up married and missing a rib. Sampson lost his hair and was enslaved. And poor Eutychus, he woke up dead.
As a result of my feelings of helplessness for this sleepy family, I�ve developed a Top 10 list of ways to stay awake in church:
Number 10 � Bring a water bottle and intermittently squirt your face.
Number 9 � Wear clothes five sizes too small.
Number 8 � Do jumping jacks while shouting, �Halleluiah.�
Number 7 � Leave your pillow, �blanky� and �jamies� at home.
Number 6 � In the middle of the sermon, break out in song. Caution: This may lead to relentless invitations to join the church choir.
Number 5 � Jog in place. If anyone questions you, just say, �Doctor�s orders.�
Number 4 � Resist the temptation to lie down in the pew.
Number 3 � Take a power nap during the announcements.
Number 2 � Keep a case of Red Bull strategically hidden under your pew.
The Number 1 way to stay awake in church � Ask for divine intervention.
On the contrary, I do envy people who get a little shuteye whenever, wherever: on a bus, train or plane, watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music or taking in a speech.
There are days I�d really like to close out the world, catch a few winks and experience a peaceful sleep.
2011 � Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.