We’ve been trying to sort last minute Christmas plans, and it made me remember something.
About six years ago, when I first moved into this place, I joined a pre-existing tenant. We were flatmates, she got me a job as a children’s gymnastics coach. We threw a misfits thanksgiving together. I invited a few of my friends, she invited hers. Fun time. It’s a tradition I’ve continued as the years have passed. We did a good job of apportioning different meals for people to bring. We had a turkey, lots of mashed potatoes, veggies, bread rolls, gravy, all that good stuff. We had drinks and good company. Perfect, eh?
My flatmate’s friend invited her boyfriend, who invited a couple of his friends. They brought nothing. They had neither food, nor drink. They didn’t think ahead to buying before a holiday. They ate heartily, drank our booze, and stayed for maybe an hour contributing nothing. They weren’t even neat or interesting people, just mooches. We had a bunch of food, and when they got up to go, my flatmate’s friend was like “go ahead, take some stuff for the road” (without asking, I might add). They wasted no time in grabbing paper plates and piling them high. They loaded them up until they sagged, and walked out the door. After they left, my flatmate was heartbroken. She’d spent all this time making her first turkey, and she knocked it out of the park. She’d been talking all day about the leftover chicken, mashed potato and gravy sandwiches she’d be eating for the next week. Her friend had welcomed people in that she barely knew, and they’d sucked us dry. She got one sandwich the next day, and that was all the leftovers we had. I think she may even have cried, she was that devastated.
I don’t know that there’s a real point to that story, other than those dudes being dickwads who either couldn’t read a room, or chose not to. It hasn’t changed my stance on welcoming in near strangers. Just because they were dweebs, that doesn’t mean everyone else will be. I don’t know how many good friends of mine came from one random interaction at a party. Who’s to say I won’t meet some of my favourite people as strangers brought by friends? Everyone we meet is an opportunity, and that feels worth taking a chance on.
I was thinking last night that I would’ve made a pretty good rabbi. I mean, this would be contingent on me being religious, which I’m very much not. I was at a friend’s party, and noticed they had both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations around. I thought that was kinda neat, and didn’t realise that one of my friends who lived there was Jewish. He and I chatted for a while about the holidays, what they represented for him, etc etc. We talked about our barmitzvah experiences, and the training that came with them. I told him of mine; I spent six months learning to lead a service, and another six months learning my specific Torah portion. It was 20 minutes of speaking in a more archaic text of a language I could read, but not understand. Then working with the rabbi to put together a speech about the various themes and metaphors in the piece. My friend gave me insight I’d never had. All the training was essentially putting together a sermon, thinking about how to make ancient texts relevant to a modern day audience. We were rabbis for a day, and that’s exactly what the barmitzvah was.
I realised that in another lifetime, that’s what I could’ve excelled at. It’s basically half of what I do here, minus the bollocks pop-cultural stuff and angry rants. This notion of trying to draw connection between people and themes. Bringing out and highlighting other aspects of life we may have elsewise overlooked. Finding new ways to look at and take in the world around us. It’s all stuff I would’ve fucking loved, if I’d felt an inkling of spirituality.
And, y’know, if pork didn’t taste so good.