Annual Holiday Story


Every year for a decade I have sent out a New Year’s story set in the village of Chelm. This year’s story is going to be different.
With the world seemingly willing to tear itself apart for religion, I can not turn my back on the hatred that is growing in our midst.
If a church…. or mosque… were going to burn the Torah on Rosh Hashanah, would the world be as silent as it has been?
And yes, I know that many people are speaking out.

For me, there is a distinction between violence and religion. The biggest mistake that our nation, and many others, have made is to give murder and destruction expressed as terrorism power to rule our lives. For years I have believed that the war on terror is over and we all lost… Terrorists must be treated as criminals. Burners of religious books for political means must be treated as criminals. It is not free speech to incite others to hatred and violence. It is not the role of a free press to give these narrow-minded men free publicity while clucking their tongues.

Enough.

That said, my story isn’t a sad one. It’s a story that is told in many cultures. I’ve heard Chinese versions of it. I’ve set it in Chelm from time to time. In fact, after I recorded it for my new album, I learned that a similar version of this story was in a book about Rosh Hashanah. How about that.

May this year bring peace and joy to all people.

– Mark Binder, September 9, 2010

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My House is Too Small for Ramadan
A story of Ramadan from “A Holiday Present!” the new album
by Mark Binder, Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved

The man sat in the stiff-backed chair. His face was buried in his hands. “Wise woman. Wise woman,” he moaned. “My house is too small. My children are driving me crazy. My whole family has come for Ramadan. I don’t know what to do.”

The wise woman was thoughtful and then she asked, “Do you have any chickens?”

“Yes, I have chickens,” the man replied, somewhat surprised.

“Bring the chickens into the house.”

“What?” Now he was really surprised.

“Bring the chickens into the house.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” she nodded.

So, he went home and brought the chickens into his house.

The next day he was back.

“Wise woman,” he said, giggling a little. “Wise woman. My house is too small. My children are driving me crazy. My whole family is visiting for Ramadan. I’ve got chickens all over the kitchen. What do I do?”

“Do you have any goats?”

“Yes, I have some goats.”

“Bring the goats into the house.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

She seemed very sure. So the man went home and he brought the goats into his house.

The next day he was back.

“Wise woman, listen.” He cleared his throat. “My house is too small. My children are driving me crazy. My whole family has come for Ramadan. I have goats in the kitchen. I’ve got chickens in the bathroom. What do I do?”

“Do you have any cows?” There was no hesitation in her answer.

“Yes I have cows.” He was feeling a little angry. He thought he knew where this was going by now.

“Bring the cows into your house.”

“What?!”

“Bring the cows into your house.”

He didn’t bother to argue. He went home and brought the cows into his house.

The next day he was back.

“Wise woman. Listen.” He laughed nervously. “My house is too small. My children are driving me crazy. My whole family has come for Ramadan. I’ve got cows in my kitchen. I’ve got goats in the bathroom. I’ve got chickens in the bedrooms. What do I do?”

She paused a moment and considered. “Do you have any horses?”

The man’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared. “Yes, I have horses”

“Bring the horses into the house.”

“WHAT?”

“Bring the horses into your house.”

“Are you sure?” His voice was faltering.

“I’m sure,” she said, calmly.

“Okay,” he shrugged. “You’re the wise woman.”

So the man went home and he brought the horses into his house.

The next day he was back.

“Wise woman!” he stomped his feet and moaned. “House? Small. Children? Crazy-making. Family? Here! I’ve got horses in the kitchen. I’ve got cows in the bedrooms. I’ve got goats—I don’t know how they all fit— in the bathroom. I’ve got chickens running all over the attic! What do I do?”

The wise woman spoke quietly, “Take the cows, the goats, the horses and the chickens out of your house.”

“What?” The man was hysterical.

“Take the cows, the goats, the horses and the chickens out of your house.”

“Are you sure?” he asked, more for form’s sake.

“I’m sure,” she said, patting his hand.

So the man went home and he took the cows, the goats, the horses and the chickens out of his house.

The next day he was back.

“Wise woman. Wise woman,” he said. His face was glowing. “My house is so big. My children are so quiet. And it is such a pleasure to spend Ramadan with my family. Thank you very much.”

She smiled. “You’re welcome.”

— THE END —

Mark Binder is an award-winning author and storyteller. This story is an excerpt from his most recent audio album, “A Holiday Present!” This collection of seven multicultural adventures is available online at amazon.com and at the iTunes Music Store.