I have been watching the controversy of the naming of the La Jolla ______Parade (you call it what you want to call it) with some amusement. I have wondered what difference it makes to most people. How about another perspective?
I was born to Jewish parents. My Grandparents did not keep a Kosher house, but they did not eat any pork products. Neither did my Mother, but she didn’t eat much of anything anyway. My father and I loved bacon and eggs on the weekend, but they were cooked by our housekeeper – yes, Virginia, I was raised by wealthy folk. My Dad and I frequently ate shrimp, clams, lobster, all forbidden by Jewish law.
The first time I got married I married a Jew. At least HIS parents were Jewish. They enjoyed pork products as well as shell-fish, so there was no difficulty in our eating habits.
The second time I got married I married a “lapsed Catholic” that wanted to convert to Judaism. I said “no” because I was afraid that if he converted, I would have to embrace the religion too, and my stomach ruled the roost. No bacon? No shrimp? No Judaism either!
The kids had the best holiday season – Chanukah, Christmas – because we celebrated all the holidays. The name of the season was “gifts” and they got their share. However, whenever I am asked to designate my religion, I still put down “Jewish.” I can’t tell you why. The only time I’ve been in Temple is for a funeral or wedding. I do not attend services because once I thought it would be nice if Bob and I and the three girls went to Temple for the High Holidays. The cost for 5 seats was prohibitive, and the closest I ever came to practicing being a Jew was when I saw “Fiddler on the Roof.” That was good enough for me.
I don’t really care what the Parade is called in La Jolla – or any other place for that matter. I don’t care if the parade is called the “La Jolla Parade” because that makes sense if you think about it, but I am not offended by what it is called.
However, and this is where there is a different perspective takes place. I am a grieving widow. Although this is the second year that Bob is not with me for the holidays – he died in September, 2009 – I grieve deeply, not just during the holidays, but every day.
Because I was not able to handle my grief alone, I joined two support groups made up of women that have also lost someone they love dearly. One group is a “widows” group; one group encompasses other loved ones – daughters, mothers, etc. Without these groups, I could never have survived. I was married at 17; divorced at 27; remarried at 27; and until Bob’s death after 44 years, had never lived by myself. The silence is deadening; the loneliness unnerving. Whenever I meet a grieving person, and just walk the walk at Ft. Rosecrans – I encourage them to join a support group like mine. And that is what I did when a new widow stopped me and said, “Does it ever get better?” Her husband passed away in April, 2010. She is still in shock; still raw from the experience.
And that is what she did. The first time she went to her meeting she came away saying that she would not go back. It did not meet her needs. Everyone was “standoffish”; she did not detect any warmth. I encouraged her to try again, and, thank goodness, she took my advice and the experience was a good one. She has been going back every since.
Last week she attended a meeting and wanted to share with me – as I will share with you – a poem that someone in the group wanted the leader to read. It is a beautiful poem; meant to comfort the griever. And, I suppose it does. But not to me. I am so offended by the poem I cannot stand it. If I were the leader I might have passed it out for others to read, but I certainly would not have read it to the group. So why am I offended? Here it is:
My First Christmas In Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars, reflecting in the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
For it’s beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.
So be happy for me dear ones. You know I hold you near.
Be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all “Love” is the gift, more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my father said to do.
For I can’t count the blessings nor the love He has for you.
So have a joyous Christmas and wipe away the tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
Why am I so offended? After all, I am not a practicing Jew. I don’t want Bob to spend Christmas with “Jesus Christ.” I want him to spend Christmas – or the Holidays – with me. And besides, I don’t believe in this “Jesus Christ” person. Bob didn’t ask me if he could spend Christmas with Jesus. In fact, he didn’t ask me if he could spend Christmas anywhere without me. Does this poem comfort me? Hell no! It makes me angry that it was read at a grievance group. I don’t know the make-up of the group and if they were all Christians they probably appreciated it. I don’t, and think it does not belong in a support group.
Since I am used to controversy, what do you think? Am I wrong?(Won’t make much difference, because I will not change my feelings, but I sure would like to know what you think.)
By the way – Merry Christmas; Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Ashura, Happy Bodhi Day, and any others I might have forgotten!