I did this as a twitter story yesterday. So, in case you missed it…here it is.
A short twitter Christmas remembrance (from an atheist jew).
6th grade. My best friend was Italian, Chris P. His mom, Mrs. P. was the nicest woman on earth.
Mrs. P. was always more aware of my judaism than I was. And thought even secular jews were kosher.
So, I’d be a their house and she’d make amazing Italian feasts for the family, pasta and sauce redolent with pork.
And on my plate, a turkey sandwich on rye, which she would call “a nice jewish turkey sandwich”. I’d eat it while pining for the pasta and pork.
But she was so sweet, and I knew it mattered to her. That she really cared.
And would always say things like: Your mother would kill me if I let you have that veal parm: it’s cheese and meat.
(my mom made veal parm).
Chris was less sensitive. Once, while playing ping pong, a ball I’d struck hit the net chord before dropping in. He called that a “cheap jew shot.” Mrs. P. would not have liked that, I’d bet.
I didn’t actually care. I knew he didn’t mean it. At all. And would’ve beat up anyone else who said it to me. And the shot was kind of a cheap jew shot.
One Christmas, Chris and family took me on a trip to Boca Raton, Fla. And we went to Midnight Mass.
Mrs. P. and Mr. P. (a lawyer with, everyone whispered, deep mafia connections) sat in the back of the church.
Chris, his two sisters, and I sat in front. This was a big, huge, giant church.
Lovely service. Nicest mass I ever attended.
And then came time for communion. I had no idea what it was. Chris said to follow him. So I did.
On the line we went. I watched, fascinated, as the priest went through the ritual, blood and body and all that.
And I was hungry and thirsty.
Finally, I was at the front of the line. I had watched Chris, so I knew what to do.
Stuck out my tongue. Priest had the wafer ready to go, when…
I felt myself YANKED back by my shirt collar. Mrs. P., had come running from the very back of the church.
The entire congregation watched as she dragged me away from the alter. “He’s a jew! His mother would kill me!” she said.
Which made me, ya know, a little self-conscious.
But it also led to an honest conversation later that night which ended with me finally getting to dig in to that delicious, mind-blowingly great pasta.
So in the end, it was a Merry Christmas for all. Which this atheist Jew hopes all of you have as well.