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ham2309091Erin (11) came up the basement stairs with Rachel, a neighborhood friend, just as I set dinner on the table.

“Dinnertime, sweetie,” I said. “Wash up and tell Laney.”

“Can Rachel stay for dinner?” she asked. “Pleaseohpleaseohplease.”

“Fine with me. Rachel, you wanna call your mom and see?”

“Sure.”

As she headed for the phone, I suddenly remembered that Rachel’s family is Jewish, and relatively observant. The Ham-Rotini Alfredo on the table suddenly looked like an abomination.

“Rachel,” I asked, “can you eat ham?”

“Oh…no, I can’t eat ham.”

“That’s right, she can’t,” Erin interjected quickly, wide-eyed. “She isn’t allergic. She can’t eat it because of her religion. How cool is THAT!!”

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.