1. Ramadan 1401
Lawrence loved Ramadan. They didn't have to go visit his stupid second cousins in LA because his dad would say on the phone, "Selina, you can't ask me to close the only halal deli in Fremont during the holidays. When do you think I make any money? Maybe we can come down for Thanskgiving." His mother would come out from the store's back office where she kept the accounts, and she would put on salwar kameez and a dupatta even though it wasn't Friday. She'd help serve the customers, and afterward, Lawrence would climb up into her lap and play with the sequins. Later, after Ramadan started, he'd help her make haleem and lukhmi. Afterward there was eid, and that was the best, because there was making food for the needy and there was so much of it and he got to eat whatever he wanted, and new clothes, and as much halva as he could eat, which was a lot.
The year Lawrence started kindergarten, he learned all about a fat man in a red suit who bought presents to all good Christian boys and girls and put them under trees covered in lights. He learned about candy canes and figgy pudding, which was weird, because usually the white kids weren't into figs. That year he kicked and screamed and begged for Christmas of his very own, but his parents said no. He swore he'd hate them forever.
The next Christmas his parents weren't around to say no.
2. Tamuz 5742, Shaban 1402
Lawrence's adoptive parents were painfully earnest. Mr. Kutner found a woman who worked in his office in the marketing department, Aisha Hakim, and he asked her what he should know. One day in early June Lawrence came home and Mr. and Mrs. Kutner sat him down on the sofa. They explained to him that they had been invited to join the Hakim family for their Ramadan observances. Mr. Kutner pronounced each syllable of "Ramadan," carefully, as if it were an alien word in his mouth.
"We can all join them at the ... mosque," Mrs. Kutner said."And then we're all invited back to their house for dinner." She reached out her hand but he kept his own stubbornly on his lap. "You can go every day and night if you'd like, and we can join you if you like. Or you can go alone."
"No thank you," said Lawrence. "I'd rather not. Thank you."
That fall he threw himself into the Rosh Hashanah preparations, learning the prayers and begging Mrs. Kutner to teach him how to make a challah. It was an utter failure of a project -- she hadn't baked anything since her own childhood -- but he didn't care.
3. Tevet 5746
Lawrence was playing dirty, but it didn't seem to be working.
"It's just so hard," he tried, though this line of argument hadn't worked the year before either. "I'm the only kid in school who's not white, and it's so hard to make friends." This probably would have worked better if the Kutners hadn't noticed quite how often he got invited to spend the night with friends, or got calls from girls. "I just feel so awkward sometimes. I know it's not right. I know Christmas isn't our holiday. It's just the temptation to fit in. I know it's just peer pressure."
Mr. Kuttner punched him on the shoulder. "You're doing fine, kiddo," he said. "Your teachers say that all the other kids love you."
Lawrence decided it was worth bringing out his one-shot weapon. "I know," he said, hanging his head. "I'm sorry, Dad. Sorry, Mom. I won't ask again. Happy Hannukah."
That year they had a Christmas tree.
4. Iyar 5750, Shawwal 1410
Lawrence had been acing Hebrew school, just like he aced all of his classes. He could read Hebrew pretty well, even without vowels, a little bit, and he could remember most of the notes of the Torah trop.
He and Ethan and Brian from class made all these plans about how they were going to spend their Bar Mitzvah money. They were going to save up for cars -- only three years before they could drive! -- but he was going to get one of those Discmans, and a metric crapload of CDs.
Nobody was more surprised than Lawrence when the rabbi (after congratualating him on his cantillation) asked him when he wanted to schedule the bar mitzvah, and Lawrence answered, "actually I don't want to get Bar Mitzvah'd, thanks."
That night, after his non-argument with his painfully understanding parents, Lawrence went down to the Greek market on the corner and bought a bar of chocolate-covered halva. It tasted dry and foul and stuck in his throat. He threw most of it out.
5. January 2009
Lawrence's job is great; his boss is an ass, but a brilliant one. Lawrence works with a hot girl who swings both ways. He has a great Horde guild he plays with when he gets free time from work, and he eats bacon double cheeseburgers every chance he gets. He's bought himself an HDTV for Christmas.
His life is great.