When I was growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, my BFF was Sherry Laiman. We were friends from ages four until we left when I was seven. We did everything together.
Sherry was of Jewish background and I have already mentioned I was Anglican. We didn’t know that there was a huge difference between us. Well except that I wanted to go to her house every time her Mom made Matzo Ball Soup and Sherry begged her mother to let her have pork chops (which I personally hated) at our house. “Well as long as you don’t tell your father, dear.”
Sherry’s Dad was kosher so pork was forbidden in their house. But her Mom wanted her kids to try things and figure it all out for themselves. From letters my Mom got from Mrs. Laiman long after we had moved away, Sherry’s older brother stayed kosher while Sherry went on eating pork outside the house.
So what does all this have to do with Christmas?
I am glad you asked. You see, Sherry and I were inseparable and agreed on everything… until we were in a car together with our mothers and I asked Sherry what she wanted from Santa (I was five and did still believe then). She looked at me and said who? I said, “Santa Claus who brings us gifts on Christmas Day – don’t you do that?” That set off a huge teary fight about the fact that Santa and Christmas weren’t real. Our mothers had to talk to each of us, explaining that one family had these beliefs while the other one believed differently.
I think we stayed away from each other for a couple of days but since we were in the same baton class (yes, at five) and the recital was coming up, we had to be together. I think we did the same as with the pork chops and matzo balls – she came to my house to see the Christmas tree and my little Nativity scene and I went to her house to watch them light the menorah and other aspects of Hanukkah. This continued on for the next two years.
I love that throughout my life I have had contact with many friends of different cultures and I was encouraged to learn all I could. Sherry and I stayed in touch for a few years. While long distant friendships at a young age don’t last too long she will always be in my heart as my first best friend.