The look on their faces was priceless! I could barely contain my inner laughter, as on the outside, I was desperately trying to show my awkward dissatisfaction with the choice for the Thanksgiving meal.
It was the first time my wife was showing me off to this part of the family, and she wanted them to like me as much as she wanted me to like them. Luckily, her sense of humour hitched a ride onto mine, and she seamlessly pushed the edge.
“Mary, umm, Herky is Jewish!” my wife exclaimed, and at that moment, I thought her Aunt Mary was going to crawl into a hole with embarrassment. Uncle Charlie, on the other hand, a wonderfully humorous man in his own right, just laughed and said, “He can eat the potatoes!”
“Is there anything else I can make for you Herky, I’m soooo sorry!” Mary said apologetically, thinking of course, that I didn’t eat pork.
This was a superb opportunity to milk the moment, so I took my time, gazed at the 20-pound ham, its juices oozing onto a decorative platter sitting in the centre of the beautifully adorned table set for 12, then at each of the guests, and calmly spoke. I said, “Well, you know, my grandmother was an amazing cook, and one of my favourite meals from her during Thanksgiving was cheese blintzes. Now, of course, you need a certain kind of flour to make the crepes, and a certain kind of cheese, but maybe we could find those somewhere in town? I’m sure they have a kosher section in the grocery store here don’t they?”
We were in rural British Columbia, and I was counting on the fact that besides me, there probably weren’t more than 10 Jews within 200 kilometers of the town! There was no way there was a kosher section in the grocery store. I could see Mary REALLY starting to churn inside. Even if we could get the ingredients, she had NO idea how to even begin making blintzes. And besides, everyone was starving and wanting to make mincemeat out of the ham!
Charlie was just about to bite into it while it was still on the platter! “Umm, I don’t think so Herky,” Mary said very meekly. I tried my best to look dejected, and my wife was pretty close to peeing her pants, I’m sure.
Eventually, I let everyone off the hook, and I told them that I’ve been eating pork since I was born, and I liked eating ham, and being a ham, as much as the next person.
We all had a good laugh, and gave thanks for having each other in our lives, no matter what the cultural differences were, as long as we tried to respect each other.
We held hands around the table, said a prayer, and feasted on a meal made with love… just the way it should be done.