Last month, I took a look at how much fun Thanksgiving is. Now, Christmas is upon us. I’m writing this on the first night of Hanukkah, I work for a Jewish man, I’m engaged to a Jewish woman, and no one said Happy Hanukkah today! I guess that means Christmas rules in America! I’m not going to complain about how everyone is being forced to say “Happy Holidays,” I’ll just assume they’re trying to be inclusive and trying to find the least offensive way to say “Merry Christmas.” Or it could be that the person wishing you Happy Holidays could be an atheist or practice something other than the Christian religion. No one has the guts to ask!
One quick look at Religious Tolerance.com and you’ll see the Christianity majority in America is actually a minority around the globe. This made me curious, so I went to SelectSmart.com and took the quiz to help me see which religion matches my belief system. The results were interesting to say the least. The percentage next to each religion below is the percentage that my answers match the religion. I’ll show only my top 10:
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Mainline – Liberal Christian Protestants (89%)
3. Reform Judaism (89%)
4. Liberal Quakers – Religious Society of Friends (88%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (86%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
7. New Thought (80%)
8. New Age (79%)
9. Secular Humanism (77%)
10. Taoism (77%)
There really is a very small difference between the ideology of a Unitarian Universalist and a Protestant; between a Quaker and a Buddhist; or between a Buddhist and a Taoist. There is almost no difference in my answers between the ideology of Liberal Christian Protestants and Reform Judaism. This is not to say that I practice any of these religions – I’m just pointing out the similarities between people who do practice their religion while ignoring the existence of all other religions.
Wars have been fought for centuries over religious differences. Catholics had the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!), the 30 Years War, and the Northern Irish Conflict among many others. Islam has their Jihads. Palestine and Israel have fought a religious and ethnic war forever. The Civil Wars in Iraq and throughout the Middle East are religious wars. Even the Buddhists have had an uprising!
Deep down, we are all the same. We want to explore the philosophy of our beliefs and find people who share those beliefs. I urge you to take the quiz I took and see how close your beliefs are to people with whom you come into contact . Christians should be able to celebrate Christmas. Jews should be able celebrate Hanukah. Costanzas should be able to celebrate Festivus. All of us should be able to celebrate whatever our chosen group wishes to celebrate. You and I are not that different. You and the cashier at Target are not that different. When they wish you “Happy Holidays,” just smile and say, “Merry Christmahanukkah!”
I got married when I was twenty years old. Everyone said we were too young to know what we were doing. They were probably right, but we were married for 15 years, had three wonderful boys, and currently have a good ex-spouse relationship. She took the plunge relatively quickly and remarried a few years after our divorce. I spent the next 15 years being either single or in relationships that weren’t going to lead to marriage. I wasn’t about to get married again. Not that being married was horrible, but I wasn’t ready to commit over that 15 year period.
As I dated, I found that there were three types of first dates:
- The date that can’t end quickly enough. I had these types of dates quite often! I went on dates with women who wouldn’t talk and who wouldn’t stop talking. I went on dates with women who claimed to be casual smokers but smoked a pack an hour. I went on dates that were supposed to be just a quick drink but ended up with them ordering food that they assumed I would pay for! I even went on a blind date because a mutual friend thought we’d hit if off. During the date, I began to question if my friend really knew me at all because this person was not my type at all. This is the kind of dating that leads to hilarious stories in the future.
- The date that leads to more dates. These types of dates gave me some hope that I might be able to meet someone normal after all. They were a good enough first date to warrant another. So you go out again and learn more about each other that you can’t learn during the first date “interview.” It might lead to more dates as you haven’t found anything causing you to turn and run as far away as possible – yet. Eventually, something happens that makes you reevaluate this person and decide it’s best to walk away. This is the kind of dating that makes you hopeful in the beginning, but you know in the back of your mind that it’s not really what you’re looking for.
- The date where you find “the one.” This is the date that is so obviously different from all the others that you go home alone wishing you didn’t have to. This is the date that tells you your life has just changed irreversibly because you just met your future. This is the type of date that made me want to ask Alana to marry me. Not on that date, mind you, but cautious optimism became outright giddiness. This is the kind of date you get to have once, if you’re lucky.
On our first date, Alana made a very subtle, straight-faced, joke about one of the stories in Date Type #1 that I told her about over the phone. You had to be there, but let me assure you she caught me off guard. The date was at Go Bananas, which is a great first date place to go. You get to spend some time talking while waiting for the comedians, then you get to see what makes them laugh. I already knew I could make her laugh because we talked for hours on the phone before we even went on the date. She loved my sense of humor and I loved making her laugh. A comedy club was the only natural choice for our date. After the club, we went next door to the bar. She spent the majority of that time flipping me off and saying “fuck you!” I knew I had either met my match or met the female version of me. This date took place in late November.
I’m 50 years old – she’s 36. I’m a Reagan Republican – she’s a Clinton Democrat. I’m an early bird – she’s a night owl. I’m a recovering Catholic – she’s Jewish. I could list all the ways we’re different but none of that matters. Over the next few months, we became inseparable. We started out by spending just the weekend together. Little by little, it became Friday through Sunday then Thursday through Monday. Then, it became odd to be at my apartment alone for even one night. I loved being alone in that apartment when I leased it in May 2010. I couldn’t wait for the lease to end in 2011. We became “roommates” for good on June 1st.
To be continued . . .