Monday, January 11, 2010

A Christmas Story

Sorry for the extreme gap in writing posts. I would imagine this is gonna be the case for my blog, if I even continue writing in it at all, but when some funny stuff occurs, I'll try my best to put it up.

So let me take you back to this past Christmas Eve. I spent the week up in Western PA with Danielle's family, which was a first for me. This would also be my first Christmas away from my immediate family.

Having grown up in a predominantly Jewish household, our exposure to Christmas was primarily through our grandmother, who was Methodist, and through "Santa Claus" visiting when we were children. Over the years, we figured it was easier to exchange gifts on Christmas Day as well, even when Santa had gone the way of the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.

Nonetheless, Jesus and the religious side of the Holiday was never a part of our celebration.

And so this Christmas Eve, when Danielle said it was a family tradition that she and her parents go to church for midnight Mass, it was going to be another first for me. My first time at a non-Jewish religious event.

So there I am, sitting between Danielle and her father, about six rows back from the front, and the ceremony begins. A rousing rendition of some song is played using only bells, and the mood is quite jovial all around.

The pastor begins to speak and begin the ceremony by lighting the five candles. Forgive me for my ignorance as to what exactly they mean, but I am certain that the final candle he was to light was called the Christ candle, symbolizing Jesus Christ.

He lights the first candle with an aim and flame, and then proceeds to light the other three surrounding candles using the light of the first candle, much like my typical Hannukah lighting. And then he goes for the Christ candle to complete the act.

But it doesn't light.

He tries again, but to no avail.

And then once more, before exclaiming that we are having technical difficulties.

He places the lighting candle back into its spot and reaches for the aim and flame, hoping for better results.

Alas, the results are the same.

And that's when I look down at Danielle. And she looks up at me. And I point to myself, and mouth the words, "It's my fault."

We laugh silently and as I sit there, uncomfortably aware that the Christ candle would not light on this the night of his birth, I play out the scenario, that I am glad did not occur, in my head (though I could easily see occurring in a Ben Stiller movie):

The priest looks up from his stand, aim and flame still in hand, frustrated by his inability to light the sacred Christ candle to begin the service. He addresses the congregation, and asks simply and sternly,

"Excuse me...Is there a Jew among us?"