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The Christmas I Sat Next to a Sex Offender

Last year my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas with our infant daughter. She couldn’t understand the holiday, of course, but that didn’t stop us from discussing Advent calendars, wreaths, and Jesse Trees in depth, continuing a friendly argument about Santa Claus that has been going on since our engagement.

Citing our childhood experiences as rationale, we hashed out the significance of the Incarnation in the form of felt, cardboard calendars filled with chocolate, and a fat man driven around by reindeer.

Christmas in my youth meant festive cooking and fellowship. My mom made Greek kourabiedes, baklava, and pecan pie with nuts from my grandparents’ trees. My dad roasted beef or pork, carefully basting it with the au jus so that it melted on our tongues.

We never ate alone. Our guests ranged from Chinese engineering students, elderly couples without family, to lonely conspiracy theorists. Every year my parents took a census of the lonely and invited tablefuls to eat with us.

But one year we had only a single guest at our table. I’ll call him Jim. Full essay

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  1. Dph


  2. Nondescript

    Amen to Sue’s comment. The only thing I would add is the irony of this author savoring the flesh of adolescent animals “melting on her tongue” but annoyed and ambivalent over the presence of a “child molester” sharing her table.

  3. Sam

    I always found it funny about churches. They preach forgiveness and without sin there would be no use for a church but yet those with sin still cast all the stones.

    1 Timothy 1:15-16 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

    These are the only verses that ever struck a chorde with me when I still went to church.

    I found the most accepting church was the Latter Day Saints. A part of being able to be baptised was that you had to complete your sentence and probation/parole so that you can’t play jailhouse Christian(only goes to church/believe in god while in jail)

    Anyway. Point is that people should practise what they preach. All these ultra conservatives should quit pushing for stricter and tougher laws and learn to forgive

    • Happy, joyous and free

      Sam, I was raised Catholic. When I started probation, I was looking for a church. The local Baptist church was involved with the local jail and prison ministry, as were several other churches in the county. Long story short, I became a member of the local Episcopal church, with the clergy knowing everything about me. I became as involved as I could, given the circumstances. If it wasn’t for that church being as welcoming as they were, I would not have survived mentally and emotionally. Now, 13 years later, I am still a member, and while many know of my past, I am treated with respect, love and understanding. Not all churches are bad, either from denomination or in specific. My religious beliefs are upheld in the dignity of all people to be respected, and that all of us have been gifted, if we so choose to live into those gifts and treat everyone as our neighbor and open our hearts. I wish I could say that everyone is understanding, but there are diamonds amough the rough stones.

    • AJ

      I’d be happy if they preach what the practice, so I’d know who to follow and who to avoid! 🙂

  4. Sam

    It’s good you found a church that would accept you. Much of the time I had more of a racial issue with churches. Namely I lived in some pretty racist places. In Michigan there churches didn’t generally accept “chinks” as they called me. And in NY the Asian churches wouldn’t accept me without a large donation because I was half White.

    I’m not much of a fan of churches anymore and have been put off because many of them I have tried to go to with a “good community” were only for those who could afford to put a hundred in the plate when it passed around. One even read out loud how much everyone had donated that month.

    I made friends with one pastor and we became lifting partners. He hated preaching at the church because most of the people there just showed up to show they were better than other people. So instead of going to the church that man built we’d work out in an iron palace and debate belief.

    I know not all are bad but so many people make them bad.

    • C

      Wow, I’m sorry you experienced racism in a church of all places. My wife is asian, I’m white and our kids, like most half-breeds (as I jokingly call them sometimes while singing that old Cher song) are beautiful and incredibly smart. They are my life, my world. I suppose this round about connection to you is what saddens me so much as I pray my kids are never treated differently because of their mixed heritage. They’ll have enough trouble if my background ever comes in to play and, out of that dread, we limit my involvement in their school universe.

      The church I wish to attend has a school on the grounds. I know the pastor through my neighbor and he’s always encouraging me to attend services or, at least, bible study which is held in the gymnasium. The pasyor knows mu RSO staths, but not the kaw. Am I required to get permission from the principal? Is it a school with a church, or a church with a school? Does it matter?
      Do you know how hard it is to find a church that does not have, at minimim, a flippen day care?
      With 23 trouble free years under my belt, I’d hate to get popped for going to church, for Christ’s sake.

      • Sam

        That all depends what state you’re in. New York doesn’t have the distance restriction at least in NYC because they know it would make it impossible for anyone to go, live or work anywhere.

        Hopefully you live in a more accepting state. Good news for your kids is that if they go to Asia people with be infatuated with them 😂 Asians are closet racist towards each other and openly racist against African American and Arabs(at least here and in NY) I’ve never heard the N word used so openly outside of a Klan rally.

        Much of the racism in Michigan was due to the large Klan population in the areas that I lived. And the sad part was that I was related to about half of them.

      • AJ

        You’d probably have to sue, but based on the various cases around the country, your fundamental right (read: black-and-white in the Constitution) to *exercise* (not merely hold) your religious beliefs trumps the State’s regulatory purposes. If the State does not allow any condition or exception under which you can exercise your religious beliefs, they have a losing case. Your pastor knowing and allowing you on premises would be an example of a valid exception.

        I’d say you have a strong case…if you sue. Or, you can violate and challenge it when the time comes, but then you’re on defense, with 3 squares and a cot awaiting you if it goes sour.

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