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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?”


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.