Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Prayer That Almost Ruined Christmas

Gather round children (all you adult children, that is), your Uncle Don has another heartwarming Christmas story that is sure to become a holiday classic.  Christmastime is all about miracles children and this here miracle happened just last year.

I was pleased to see the invitation to the writer’s guild annual Christmas party appear in my email.  I had made my first appearance there a year ago and had a most splendid time.  There was a delicious potluck dinner, a gift exchange and lots of festive fellowship of the season.

And we call it a Christmas party, children.  None of that political correct stuff for us.  Because it’s not a holiday party, it’s a Christmas party.  This saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is just plain silly.  Flag Day is a holiday. So when I say Happy Holidays, I am really wishing you a joyous Flag Day in December, when Flag Day is actually in June. Now tell me that isn’t just plain stupidity, children, just plain stupidity.

But I was afraid that calling it a Christmas Party this year could present a problem.  Hannah was a new member and one of my best friends in the guild.  She is a fine writer and a wonderfully pleasant woman.  But Hannah had a secret, children, a secret few members of the guild knew about.

I had become Facebook friends with Hannah several months ago, and had noticed something peculiar about some of her posts.  I confronted her about my suspicions in private after last month’s meeting.

 “Are you Jewish?” I asked

“Yes, I am.” answered Hannah

Now I do think it is delightful to have Hannah in the guild. One of the best things about this group is that you get to meet a wide variety of different people, all united by their love of writing. I only asked her this question because she is my good friend and friends share that type of stuff.  

But now we had invited a Jewess to a “Christmas” Party.  I hoped so much that she would attend, but I was worried she might stay home.  I thought about emailing her, but what would I say? “Hey, I know it says “Christmas” Party, but Jews are welcome too!” Awkward, very awkward, children.

Now, I have a strategy for potluck dinners, children. I buy a bag of off-brand chips at the dollar store. Yes, they may be greasy and stale, but I don’t care, because I’m not going to eat them.  Then I get to the dinner early, so I can sneak my cheap chips on the table without being seen by too many people. Finally at dinnertime, I stuff my face with all the expensive shrimp and fancy cheeses other people bring.  When you do the math: $6 worth of classy food, minus $1 of stale chips, equals “Free Appetizers”!

I was so glad to see Hannah arrive at the party.  I hurried over to greet her and said:

Me: I will wish you a Happy Hanukah, if you wish me a Merry Christmas.

Hannah: Merry Christmas!

Me: Happy Hanukah!

And then we embraced in a cross-religious, unification, diversity hug.  That’s how it should always be, children.  We should be able to celebrate our differences and not hide behind all that “Happy Holidays” crap.

Everything at the party was going wonderful, children, until Stella announced it was time to begin eating and then she said the horrific words that threatened to ruin the entire night and even Christmas itself:

“Everyone bow their heads, Hannah is going to say the blessing for our meal”

WHAT? Back up the sleigh, Santa!  Hannah is giving the Christmas prayer?


I strive to be as tolerant and inclusive as I can be, children, but this was just too much.  There are no circumstances or conditions that exist where it would be permissible for a Jew to give the Christmas blessing.  This was wrong, so very wrong.

I thought about speaking out, shouting “Stop the prayer.  Abort, abort, she is a Jew!” But Hannah had already started to pray, and it would be highly inappropriate and rude to interrupt at this point.  Besides, I was famished and somebody needed to eat all those delicious shrimp.

I thought about the negative consequences of this prayer.  There was no way that God was going to ever bless a Christmas meal prayed over by a Jew.  He would more likely curse it.  Well, in that case, I’m sure as heck not eating the egg salad.  I can see the headline in tomorrow’s paper: Ten Hospitalized With Salmonella Due To Jewish Prayer At Christmas Dinner.

I was distressed by the situation.  It was unacceptable. It was un-American.  There is no place in the Christmas story for any Jews and therefore a Jew should not be praying at a Christmas celebration.

To make things even worse, I noticed someone had brought ham to the dinner. Nice black forest variety, thinly-sliced, great sammich-making meat. I’m fairly certain that a Jew should not be blessing ham.  A single prayer that violates tenets of two major religions at the same time, cannot be a good thing.

Fortunately, I wasn’t going to be cursed by this prayer, because I wasn’t praying.  Stella’s announcement was so shocking that I failed to bow my head.  Instead, I stared intently at Hannah, carefully dissecting and evaluating every word she prayed.

I had never heard a Jew pray before, so I did not know what to expect.  However, my former years in the Baptist church made me more than qualified in identifying a good meal-blessing prayer.   

But by now Hannah was halfway into the prayer and there was something peculiar about it.  It started off like a normal Christian prayer and so far, it sounded good, it sounded right.  I was certain though that at any moment she was going to mention a menorah and throw in some strange sounding Yiddish terms all starting with the letter “Y”.

As she continued, unbelievably, it still was indistinguishable from a good Baptist meal blessing.  But we were nearing the end of the prayer, when she would have to state who we were praying to.  Hannah was approaching a literal “come to Jesus” moment, because you can’t have a Christmas prayer without mentioning the baby Jesus – just ask Ricky Bobby.

My throat tightened and I held my breath, as the prayer came to the end.  We had reached the moment of truth.

And then a miracle happened, children.  An actual, wonderful Christmas miracle, right there in that room.

In concluding the prayer, Hannah went “full Jesus” on us.  Not just “baby in the manger Jesus”, oh no, she went “savior of the world Jesus”, and even ended the prayer in Jesus name.

It was a mericle, children. It was a tremendous Christmas mericle!

But how, how, was it even possible?  How could a Jew pray like that? Except for the fact it was delivered by a woman, Baptist judges would have given this prayer very high marks.

You can't pray like that!
I was so stunned, that I stared across the room at Hannah in utter disbelief.  She noticed my expression and being irritated at my reaction, mouthed “What?” back at me.  I wanted to yell across the room, “Nice prayer, Jew girl!”, but though better of it.

I was so dumbfounded that I even forgot to get in line, which meant that scoundrel Dave got to the shrimp before I did.  I bet that cheapskate is the one who brought the hard, stale, day-old, muffins for dessert.  I did manage to get a couple shrimp, as well as some exotic cheeses and ham.  I even ate some egg salad, but only a couple bites, because, well, I still had my concerns.

After dinner, I confronted Hannah privately and asked her how a Jew could pray like that.  She told me she happened to be a messianic Jew.  Well, I certainly agree.  You have to be one messed up Jew so participate in antics like that. 

But the beautiful thing children, is that Christmas was saved.  Christmas could have been ruined by this prayer, but God intervened by a miracle to send his Son as a baby into this prayer and save it.  I can’t remember where, children, but I think I’ve heard something similar to this, somewhere before.

To all my readers and friends: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Men!

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