discarded lies: tuesday, march 20, 2018 8:14 am zst
grinding the peppercorns of truth
daily archive: 12/25/2006
guest author: Thousand Sons in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: memphis bill in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: annie in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: Laura in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: cba γβα גבא ابت вба in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: cba in Discarded Lies:
The cba family’s new Christmas tradition
This year my family (and two friends of my daughters) started what I hope will become a regular Christmas tradition. Yes, a committed Jewish family with a Christmas tradition--it’s not quite as weird as it sounds…

A couple of months ago, my big kid (henceforth BK) said she and a friend wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day. It so happens that I’d been thinking about doing that very thing for a long time, and for the same reason as BK and her friend: It's not our holiday (as in "holy day"), so we should give a few other people who would otherwise be volunteering the chance to attend family celebrations.

And it further so happens that I know the chair of the board of a local soup kitchen (it’s one of the organizations I donate to). She put me in touch with the manager, who said yes, he could use us all (hubby, my younger kid, and a friend of YK, also said they wanted to volunteer).

So on Christmas morning around 8 a.m., cba, Mr. cba, BK, YK, and the two friends arrived at the church hall that houses the soup kitchen.

The hall contained a dozen folding tables, each covered with burgundy tablecloths protected by clear plastic. On the stage was a Christmas tree, beside which were lots of wrapped presents for the children. The manager assigned each volunteer-- there were 40 or 50 of us--to one of the jobs. Some volunteers were rolling silverware in napkins and setting tables, some were warming up the food in the kitchen or cutting up pies, and a few were putting the finishing touches to the hall decorations.

But the cba family & friends group were among the many volunteers who were just sitting around and watching. I was rather regretting the whole idea at that point, thinking it was a Big Waste of Time (I don't deal very well with just sitting around when there's work to be done).

But at 9 a.m. the guests started arriving and everything changed.

Our girls were originally put on "children duty" to make sure the kids went to Santa for their gifts. But mostly that wasn't necessary (the parents took care of that), so they were co-opted to the microphone, where they, and four others, sang carols and other Christmassy songs. We thought that was really amusing--of the eight people in the impromptu Christmas choir, four were Jews!

Mr. cba and I were bussing tables (with two other people), and since people were leaving one at a time (not a whole table at once like at a restaurant) we had to keep our eyes open. And not take away anything away before the guest had finished eating (a very big no-no!). And then wipe down the place Very Fast before the next guest sat themselves down.

And it went from "no plates to take" to "plates here, there, and everywhere" in about five seconds. I'm very glad I’m in good shape (yay, running!) because by the time I'd gotten a half dozen or so large china plates and mugs and assorted silverware into the plastic container it was very heavy, and rather difficult to balance while I was wiping down the table. I was on the go bussing tables until a little after 11 a.m., when serving ended and clean-up began.

During those two hours, we served 340 guests. They had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and mixed vegetables, followed by pie, and accompanied by juice and/or coffee and/or tea. On average, each guest had two meals (some ate two meals on the spot, but most took the second one away), and they were also given mandarin oranges to go. A few of the guests clearly had cognitive and/or substance abuse problems, and many of them were rather pungent, but most of them were very polite and pleasant and appreciative--and some were very funny!

All in all, I would say it was my Best Christmas Ever, and I hope it truly does become a family tradition.
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guest author: Charmaine in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: evariste in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: evariste in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: packen in Discarded Lies:
I was following annie’s thread “Mediterraneans uber alles!” and felt to reminisce.
Israel should aim to form an alliance of all Mediterranean nations.
You know, it wouldn’t be altogether impossible, if only we could keep Africa out of it. This thread reminded me of my own failed attempt to form an alliance with the Arab world, failed not for anything you may have guessed, but because my life has always been wrought with comedy.

I was 19 at the time, right after spending two-and-a-half years in Israel, living in Perugia (Italy) with a couple of renowned Italian language professors. One day they left for a month-long teaching tour of Europe, leaving me behind to take care of pets named Pessy, Passy, Possy and Pussy. In order for me not to lose momentum with my Italian studies in their absence, they arranged for me to take a language course at the University for Foreign Students.

I showed up for my first class taught by what I was warned a fascista, a benign-looking elderly gentleman with a bow-tie. I entered the classroom and quickly assessed the situation–out of about forty students, there were only two females from Sweden, the rest looked African and middle-Eastern. The first thing I had to do was sign a log, indicating my name and nationality. Of course, I could put myself down as Russian had I been prudent, but I was anything but, so I wrote down Israeli.

As soon as I sat down, a beeline formed to check out my credentials and during the recess I was approached by six guys who introduced themselves as a group of friends and informed me that I was the first Israeli they ever met. One of them was from Egypt, one from Lebanon, and the rest from Jordan. To make the long story short, we quickly became fast friends. They were very cosmopolitan, obviously from well-to-do families who could afford to send their kids to Europe to study engineering and medicine, extremely polite and overall fun guys. We used to hang out together during recess and then spend a couple of hours after school at our favorite trattoria drinking espressos and smoking up a storm. We never discussed politics during our short friendship, concentrating instead on what all strangers in a foreign land do–make fun of the locals. We shared a common interest in firearms and always stopped at a real fancy gun shop on the way to trattoria, drooling over the latest display of Renato Gambas ($16,000 a piece). I don’t recall if that struck me as ironic at the time-- remember, the year was 1974.

Anyway, this idyll didn’t last long. About a week or so later, I was approached in class by an 8-foot tall Nigerian. OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but he was definitely over seven feet, and not skinny either. He was very very dark, with a mouth full of huge dazzling-white teeth, so when he grinned you couldn’t help but squint. The first words out of that mouth were: “Hi, I’m so-and-so, I’m here to study medicine and I will be your body guard.” “Huh? Why do I need a body guard?” “There are too many Arabs here and it’s dangerous.” All my protestations that I could take care of myself were met with a smirk. He used to lurk around while we were having our espressos and appear out of the blue once we parted and I was on my way home. I lived in a farm house way out in the countryside, about two-mile walk through the fields and olive groves and he insisted on accompanying me on my way. Poor peasants in the fields used to drop their hoes and stare until we were out of range. He also started dropping amorous hints and creeping me out. I did not know how to shake him.

Meanwhile, his body guarding methods kept escalating. He planted himself next to me in class and every time anyone from the gang as much as came near me during recess, he would immediately appear and start glowering at them. The kids commenced to seethe, I caught a lot of kus this and kus that, the tension was escalating and I had no other choice but to stop coming to class in order to avoid an international conflict.

So there you are. I know it’s kinda anti-climactic, but things often are in real life. Let this be a lesson to you, kids. You want Levantine alliance, do not employ African peacemakers.
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floranista in The Secret Garden:
Merry Christmas!
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guest author: joem in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: franco cbi in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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guest author: annie in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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