Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Christmas Party Bernalillo County Medical Center, 1973
Christmas Memory and Joy to Our Imperfect World

by Nancy Harris McLelland 

Over the loudspeaker, “Christmas party radiology conference room at noon.”
We chipped in for cold cuts, brought goodies—cheese and crackers, jello salad,
Mexican wedding cookies. Mary Dullea brought posole to eat in paper cups.  
Spiked punch lasts fifteen minutes.  Mrs. Petty whispers, 
“We shoulda made chicken soup for Dr. Kopperman.” 
Sandra brought bunuelos, made them in her Mexican cooking class. 
Consuela spits hers into the wastebasket, hisses to Teresa, 
“I’ve never tasted anything like that.” 
Sandra gets huffy, “They’re Mexico City style.  Not New Mexico.”

Kyle, the security guard, plays Santa.
Evie gives me three pair of bikini panties,
each with a drink recipe. Mary Dullea whispers 
she’s selling hot Navajo jewelry for her brother-in-law in Window Rock.
The custodians have their party upstairs. 
Lucille comes down to ours and complains, 
“They’re playing Spanish music. I can’t understand a word of it.” 
She writes her recipe for sweet potato pie on a “While You Were Out” pad.
It’s her new husband’s favorite.  He’s from the Bahamas, hates Albuquerque.

Mrs. Petty passes around a Christmas card to slip into Poopsie’s in-box. 
Poopsie is  secretary to Dr. B, the chief of radiology.  
The card is a photo of a penis with glasses and a little Santa hat.
Underneath it says, “Season's Greetings.  Guess Who?”
Poopsie won’t come to our party. The way she refers to herself
as “eg-ZEC-ative secretary,” I know she won’t show. 
Evie thinks Poopsie is having a mad affair with Dr. B.
That may be true, but I think Poopsie hates  all of us equally, 
especially this time of year.

Evie is thrilled to be pregnant.  We laugh 
when she pops a button because her boobs are getting big.  
The conference room is near the nursery and the maternity ward. 
When someone opens the door, you hear an infant cry. 
Mrs. Petty whispers, “Baby Hay-Soos,” every time.

* * * * *

For Nancy Harris McLelland, home means Nevada. She divides her time between Carson City, the capitol, and Tuscarora, an almost ghost town in the ranching country fifty miles north of Elko. She publishes on her blog, Writing from Space—Memoir, Essays, and Poetry from the Wide, Open Spaces of Northeastern Nevada www.writingfromspace.com and is also accessible through her Facebook page Tuscarora Writers Retreats.

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