A Jewish Chinese Christmas

It seems like a poor marketing idea for a Chinese restaurant staff to piss off a collection of Jews on Christmas Eve.

Let me back up.

I live in the notch of the buckle of the Bible Belt, a place where finding fellow tribespeople is no small task.  When we find each other we cling to each other, tighter than Saran Wrap when it has touched itself prior to being placed across the top of a bowl.

It’s a stereotype that Jews go out for Chinese on Christmas.  There’s two kinds of stereotypes: the kind that exist because they are based on facts so prevalent they can’t help but be true, and the kind that exist because they are based on cruelties that prejudiced people want to be true to belittle groups they dislike.  The Chinese food on Christmas one is the kind that is fact based.  The truth is that we do eat Chinese food on Christmas.  This is because a) Chinese restaurants are generally open, because Chinese restaurant owners, being from China, a majority non-Christian country, are, like us, not-Christian and therefore not celebrating the holiday at hand; and b) because we have nothing else to do since everything else is closed and everyone else we know is busy with their own families and religious celebrations.

Plus, we like Chinese food.  It’s yummy.

So here I’m going to go back to my first sentence: it seems like a poor marketing idea for a Chinese restaurant staff to piss off a collection of Jews on Christmas Eve.

I have a group of friends that always goes out to dinner on Erev Christmas[1] to the same Chinese restaurant.  We spend a lot of time there, drink a lot of plum wine[2], and eat a ton of food.  Granted, we have a lot of special orders[3], but we also tip well.

This year, we arrived at the appointed time, although there was some disagreement as to whether the appointed time was six or six-thirty, and arriving at the appointed time was arriving at Jewish Standard Time, which means within a half an hour of the appointed time, so our party’s arrival was spread out.

The waitstaff was clearly overwhelmed.  Drink orders were taken for the north side of the table, but not the south.  While we were waiting for our whole party to arrive, no one asked if we wanted appetizers (we did) or if anyone on the south side of the table was thirsty (we were.)  I finally managed to grab a waiter and ask if the hot tea was black tea or green tea.  It was black.  He explained that the black tea was free, but the green tea was $3.57.  I said that I wanted the green tea anyway, as black tea was a migraine trigger for me.

I never got the green tea.

An hour and a half in, our food order had still not been taken, though we all finally did manage to get drinks.  We thought about going somewhere else, but it was Erev Christmas.  The only other place that was open was Waffle House.  We contemplated how to complain without getting dandruff or spit in our food.  We saw the tables around us, seated after us, getting food.  We wondered if it was personal.

I saw a bucket of fortune cookies on the bar.  I dared my son to go up and grab a handful.  He refused.  My husband got up and grabbed one – only one! – and gave it to someone else.  I threatened divorce.  We ate the pretzel bark Sheri gave us as a Chanukah gift to tide us over.  We’d been there a while.  We were hungry.

Eventually, we decided it was worth whatever the kitchen staff did to us before we starved to death and we cornered the manager.  We tried to be nice about it.  “We have been here a while.  No one has taken our order.”  He was apologetic, though didn’t offer us any free eggrolls to make up for our wait or anything.

We got our food.  It was good. We laughed, gossiped, and caught up on our lives.  There are, of course, worse things than sitting at a table with some of your favorite people in the world.

Next year, though, we’ll probably go to a different Chinese restaurant.  It is a poor marketing idea for a Chinese restaurant to piss off a collection of Jews on Christmas Eve.

[1] Erev is a Hebrew word that means ‘the evening of’, since our days start at sundown.  Erev Christmas is a really funny joke, but only if you know what Erev means.  My friend Sheri came up with this, and it makes me giggle EVERY SINGLE TIME.

[2] Another stereotype: we like our sweet, cheap, fruity wines.  Hello Manischewitz.

[3] More stereotypes: lactose intolerant, gluten-free

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.   Her new book, “If You Did What I Asked In The First Place” is currently available by clicking here.

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