Holy Homily! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Catholic! Yes, I wanted to be Catholic! You may recall from one of my previous stories, as a little girl, my aspirations were to become Barbie, a Playboy Bunny or a Stewardess, all Catholics. What you may not know is that I had a strong desire to be a Catholic. Not because of the skirts, knee socks, saints or even because of Jesus himself but because I thought anyone who wasn’t Jewish was Catholic and that meant their lives were perfect.
Somehow, I knew Tabitha, Marcia and every other person I sat too close to the TV watching was a Catholic.
I knew the secret and that was Catholics were happier! They had happy homes, did happy things and always smiled. Those Catholics were the ones with the vans that had shag carpeting, mini kitchen and an exterior acrylic lacquer detailing a magnificent stallion born of a fiery orange-yellow sunrise! I knew without a doubt, Barbie was a Catholic. There is no way a Jewish girl could look like that.
Any apostle, the only frame of reference I had for nuns was the flying one who seemed very sweet and benign. I had never met a priest but I figured since everyone referred to them as Father, they had to be kind. Those Catholics seemed brighter and shinier especially upon leaving church, well on TV anyway. They threw rice and stuff while us Jews went to dark, somber temples speaking in some phlegmy language I didn’t understand. Yes, I wanted to be one of those Catholics!
Catholics had more holidays involving candy and being the biggest candy junkie on the planet, I would be consumed with jealousy, dejected and wistful looking at those remarkable Easter Baskets filled with every sort of cavity-inducing sugary delight. If that wasn’t enough to deflate my Hamantoshin heart, the basket had a stuffed animal too!
Holy Hot Cross Buns, the unfairness! The anguish! The lack of colored eggs!
Catholic kids played games like communion, confession and confirmation meanwhile I was being relegated to hide in my friend’s musty, stinky, dark crawl space always delegated to playing the role of Anne Frank while she played the role of the Nazi Prison Guard giving me bread crust and one sip of water. Do you want to come over and play “Sit Shiva”! Holy Hiddassah! Good times!
The Catholics had more barbeques too!
Those Catholics had better families too, usually involving more than the average 2 children homes of most Jews. Large families. Yes!!! I loved the Catholics with the large families, the commotion, activities, lots of shoes and Moms in aprons cooking family dinners. Catholic Grandmothers with ample bosom were always smiling and giving me homemade cake. The Catholics had more barbeques too! Oh and Christmas, need I say more? Oh wait, yes I do, matching plaid clothing items.
I did end up marrying a Catholic. My Catholic ate ham sandwiches on white bread! Now that’s Catholic! I, on the other hand, had “ham shame”. At the deli counter in my usual low and loud voice, I would order sliced turkey loud and proud but then, I would turn meek, quiet and look in both ways before whispering my ham order. I am not so sure it was about the ham. It could be the fact that is was Krakus Ham and it was hard for me to order “Crack-ass Ham”.
Any Archbishop, I later learned that not everyone who wasn’t Jewish was not a Catholic but I must admit, a little bit of my childhood perception still lingers and I still believe Barbie is a Shiksa for Shiz. I know there is no shame in Ham, not all nuns are kind and no family is perfect.
I could go on and on…Catholics wouldn’t but a Jew would.
Any pew, I’m a Jew
From Catholic to Buddha
Blessings to you
May the Lord give you candy
It would be a toss-up who has / demonstrates more guilt. I once asked my boss, who was a Catholic, why she forced her boys to go to church with her on Sunday. “So they grow up with guilt,” she replied.
Hilarious, Shelley, thank you. (But did you really play Anne Frank?)
So, it looks like each of us saw the others as somehow more exciting, interesting, something more positive, Shelley!
My folks knew that as I was growing up, Chanukah couldn’t hold a candle (yeah, I HAD to write that!) to Christmas with all its hoopla, so they bought a white plastic Christmas tree and they decorated it with blue things (Israel’s colors, blue and white as you know), including paper dreidles, Jewish stars, and blue ribbons. They were trying in their own way to even the playing field!
The funny thing is WE had 8 days of fun with Chanukah — gifts every day! — Christians had ONE day — yet my parents were trying to make our holiday better.
I don’t remember wanting to be Christian, except for a few times when I was excluded from something because I was Jewish; there were very few Jewish families in our town in the 1950s. Mostly though, I guess I was happy enough with what I had.
Your article is just marvelous, and a trip down our own memory lanes — thanks so much!
A big Mazel to your very inclusive parents! I love that you had 8 full days of hanukah and your tree makes me want to sing “Stars on plastic trees, making Hanukah bright, oh what fun to laugh and sing…Didle Diddle all the way! Oy Oy Oy!” Way to make the kids kvell! So happy you liked the story and thanks for such a fun response. I am sportin’ a full on smile of my punim.
What fun! Of course, this was a Shelley post! Thank you for making me smile. I was raised Catholic – oh, that I could have seen it from your perspective, my friend! ;]
Vicki, I would have wanted to be at your house all the time and if you had jelly beans? Well, game over! So happy the story gave you a smile.
I so loved your article. I grew up a Catholic in a small Canadian border city Sarnia. At the time there was virtually no cultural diversity and religious diversity. We had a Jewish community with a small synagogue.
In our neighborhood we had a single Jewish family and led by a single mother with 3 boys. My friend told us about bar mitzvah and all the money and presents, I wanted to become Jewish.
Chris, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I call my family “Neiman Marcus Denomination”. We practiced retail (as a religion) and when I was really young, we celebrated the high holidays. I love the Jewish culture and I guess you could call me the “Wandering Jew” as I spent more time in various churches seeking spiritual food and found many things that taste really good. Happy Easter Friend!
Of course you did, Chris! You probably didn’t hear a lot about all the studying that was necessary, though … right? Funny how so many of us wanted what we saw as advantages others had!
So hilarious!! Love you, Shelley!!