Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Second Sunday of Advent: O Come Emmanuel

Dear Friends Who Are Muslim and Yet Don't Hate Me for My Various Stupidities,

This second week of advent I am reminded by the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel of how patient you have been with me and my cultural faux pas. You are remarkable in so many ways and have opened up your lives to me without prejudice and with great love. Thank you.

Remember the first time I invited you over for dinner and I served bacon bits to go with the salad. I suppose you should have walked out then and there, but you didn't and I'm so glad. I know it was thoughtless of me, and I actually knew better. I guess that I just went on "company-for-dinner autopilot" and pulled out the usual stuff. Gee, I don't even like bacon bits.

Then there was the time I served Aunt Melba's green salad. The salad is a sneaky thing, with all the cool whip and cream cheese; it just doesn't look like jello. You seemed to like it, and were ready for seconds when I mentioned the word gelatin. That time I really didn't know that Muslims do not eat jello. Oh how I wish I were better prepared for the socio/religious challenges of building a bi-cultural relationship. Yet, you forgive and I'm trying not to forget.

And I didn't forget to consider you at Anne GG's wedding. Our priest didn't quite understand why we insisted on non-alcoholic wine for the celebration of the Eucharist just because our Muslim friends would be in attendance. Of course, I didn't expect you to participate, but heck, I thought, if you wanted to, I didn't want you to have to deal with alcohol. See, I am trying to pay attention!

Now even your children are teaching me new things. Remember the Christmas stocking incident? I'm glad you like to celebrate Christmas with us. One of my other Muslim friends actually said she thought that Jesus was the greatest prophet. I don't know if you would express it quite that familiarly, but as you say, "We are both people of the book," and you are glad to join us in our celebration of Jesus' birth as told in our book. So both you and your beautiful little girls enjoy the "stocking" tradition, or as your youngest would ask upon entering for the holiday visit, "Where is my sock?" And it will be waiting next week, her "sock," with her own name engraved in sparkles, but. . . without the Gummy Bears I mistakenly included one year, indelicately, without reading the ingredients. Yes, caught by gelatin once again. I can still picture your oldest girl, barely able to read but, careful by your training, saying, "Mommy, can we have this?" and pointing to the label. You are always so gracious and delicate in your responses. Thank you for once again forgiving my failing.

So last Christmas I was again, uncomfortable, that we had crossed a line, with the singing of this song:

"O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel."

I realized while singing, that these words just might be beyond the pale for my dear friends. I hadn't thought, in advance, how these particular words might sound to your ears. I promise that I won't select O Come Emmanuel this year, though you have always generally loved our annual carol singing. And of course you have already shown that you have not taken offense, for when I called to set the date for the party this year, you eagerly asked, "We will be singing?"

Needless to say, at this holiday season, it is one of the great gifts of my life to have you as my friends. Your presence in my life is truly an advent of Christ for me.

Eid Mubarak!


1 comment:

brd said...

Well, we had our party. It was fun, fun, fun. (Three little children for a wannabe grandmother to buy presents for. It doesn't get any better than this.) My friend requested that we sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Go figure. We served rice krispy treats. Another lesson. Marshmallow is out! Take note Homestarrunner!
Luckily the pumpkin and apple pies were just fine.