On Christmas Eve night, I sank into the same burgundy cushioned pew I’ve occupied for decades at my Methodist Church at the beach. The music was soothing my tattered soul, as it does every Christmas Eve. With Duh Hubby and the Princess at my side, I got misty, as I do every year, as we sang “Silent Night” a cappella and, in a deliberately darkened sanctuary, passed candle light one to another.
It was probably the longest time I’ve spent not thinking about Donald Trump since last Jan. 20. All was calm. All was bright. In the distance of the candlelight, across the aisle, I thought I imagined something but quickly dismissed it. Crazy.
As the service ended, the lights came up, causing us all to squint a bit. As my eyes adjusted to the glare, I saw him. I had just broken bread, literally, with Eric Trump.
Lord have mercy.
Upon reflection, it’s not as unlikely as it sounds. He married a local girl who grew up in this beach church. I realized now the striking woman in the Louboutins who scurried in just a little late with her tall husband was Mrs. Eric Trump. I had noticed the trademark red soles and sniped to the Princess that they “surely couldn’t be real.” (This just in: They were.) The baby whom I had nudged and told the Princess: “My God, that baby is cute” was Donald Trump’s newest grandson.
I’m sure Secret Service was everywhere, but I never saw sunglasses or curly wires disappearing from earpiece to shirt collar. They must’ve been disguised as Southern Methodists in “Crusmus” sweaters because, honestly, no one else was there. Everyone smelled like firewood and baked ham just like always.
On the way home, I could only think how ironic it was to have spent a year writing about the disappointing Trump presidency only to realize I can’t even find refuge in the house of the Lord.
It made me giggle a bit. And then I did something I wish I hadn’t. I put it on Facebook. The post read: “Hmmmm. Went to Christmas Eve service at our church and there was Eric Trump and fam. Is God trying to tell me something?!”
Remember now, I thought this was kinda funny and definitely ironic. I couldn’t escape Trump even in the “sanctuary” of my church.
And then things got ugly fast. The anti-Trumpers wondered if frogs rained from the sky, if lightning struck the church, if Eric stole from the collection plate, if he killed any elephants lately, did he pray for a brain while there … and on and on and on.
The Trumpers were no better, pouncing on every morsel, eviscerating me for acting “so un-Christian and judgmental.” There was a LOT of that. I was gobsmacked at the irony, but things quickly got out of hand, bastardized, hateful.
On Christmas Eve, Eric Trump attended a small Methodist church at the beach with his family. I did, too. It may be the only common ground we’ll ever have. But it’s a start.
Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist who lives in Wilmington. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.