By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Solomon Nassim El-Charif had a plan. He had first hatched his plan during Sabbath School. When the primaries had walked into class last Sabbath, their eyes had opened wide in surprise. Ms. Kimoto was dressed in a long., beautiful, red gown with a fancy design embroidered all over it. Her sleeves were very wide, and around her waist was an even wider belt, with what looked like a large, square pad behind.
As Solly came into the room, Ms. Kimoto placed her palms together under her chin and bowed deeply to him. “Welcome to class, Solomon. How are you this morning?”
“Um . . . fine,” Solly stammered.
Ms. Kimoto escorted him to a place at a table that had been set so beautifully he was afraid to touch anything.
“What are you happy about this morning?” Ms. Kimoto asked, as she did every Sabbath.
At first, Solly couldn’t remember. “Oh, yeah! My new play set is coming this week, and I want to invite everyone to my house to play on it.”
“What fun that will be!” Ms. Kimoto smiled. “Is there anything you are concerned about today?”
Solly’s hand shot up. “Mother has been coming home sad all week. You know she’s a cancer doctor, and I think one of her patients is dying. But she hasn’t said anything.”
Ms. Kimoto put her hand on Solly’s shoulder. “That must be difficult for your mother and for your whole family. We will pray for strength and courage for her, and for you to know how you can support her and show your love.”
“Can we pray for her patients too?” Solly asked.
“Of course we can!” Ms. Kimoto answered.
Ms. Kimoto turned to greet and bow to Susannah and Matt. As she seated them beside him, Solly smiled at the looks on their faces.
“What’s this?” Susannah
Solly shrugged his shoulders.
It turned out that since the lesson was about Jesus serving His disciples, Ms. Kimoto planned to serve the class breakfast, Japanese style. She explained that the gown she was wearing was called a kimono. She bowed to each one again as she served them. Solly felt really special, and the other kids seemed to sit a little straighter and smile more brightly too.
It was then that Solly hatched his plan!
Now it was Monday afternoon, and Solly and Mrs. Moore had been very busy since she had brought him and Sara home from school. Sara had taken a snack and disappeared into her room the minute she’d come in the door. Solly was glad, because he wanted to keep his plan a secret. He was even more glad that he’d shared it with Mrs. Moore. She had loved his plans, and helped him with a lot of cool ideas! She was the one who had thought of ordering a colorful, fragrant flower arrangement from Susannah’s mom.
Susannah delivered it and stayed to exclaim over the table. “It looks like something on TV! Now your house really is a castle! Solly, this is a great idea. I’m going to do it at my house too!”
Susannah left, and Solly checked the glittering table one more time. The Sabbath china and silver were in place, and white napkins were folded in a fancy shape Mrs. Moore had shown him. Solly heard a car and ran to the window.
Both cars! Perfect! His parents were arriving at the same time for once.
“They’re here! Mrs. Moore! They’re here!” Solly ran into the kitchen.
“Take it easy,” Mrs. Moore said with a grin. “Here’s your towel.”
Solly took the white tea towel she handed him and draped it over his arm. He stood by the table while Mrs. Moore lighted the candles and went to the kitchen doorway to watch.
Solly heard the door into the kitchen open. He straightened his shoulders and tried to look dignified. He felt more like giggling.
Then his smile faded.
The voices in the kitchen were sharp, their Arabic words hard, like stones. “These young men think they know everything!” Father was growling. “Two years out of college, and they’re ready to run the world!”
“Maybe if you listened to them a little more, instead of expecting them to do all the listening just because you’re older, they would respect you more!” Mother argued.
Solly’s heart sank. What could have happened? Mother never sounded like that! He could see his carefully planned evening going up in smoke.
Feet thumped on the stairs. “About time you got home!” Sara called down crossly. “Are we ever going to eat?”
Father, Mother, and Sara came into the dining room at the same moment. Solly’s heart sank further at their cross looks. Then, as his eyes traveled from face to face, he saw the same thing he had seen in Sabbath School. Three pairs of eyes widened in surprise.
Solly swallowed nervously and straightened his shoulders again. He walked to his parents and bowed solemnly. “Good evening, sir, madam.” He turned to his mother. “May I seat you, madam?” He crooked his arm as Mrs. Moore had taught him.
A second passed, then two.
Solly’s mother put her hand in his elbow. “Thank you, sir.”
He escorted Mother to her place and held the chair for her. Father followed them and sat down too. He didn’t say anything, but when Solly sneaked a peek at his face, twinkles had replaced the frown.
Solly went to Sara, who was still frozen in the other doorway. He bowed before her too. “Good evening, miss. May I seat you?”
For a minute he was sure she wouldn’t take his arm. Then he felt her hand in his elbow.
Solly felt a little silly, but he seated Sara with great dignity and bowed to the family again.
“My name is Solomon, and I will be your server. For our first course tonight . . .”
As he recited the special foods he and Mrs. Moore had prepared, Solly looked again from one face to another. He saw that smiles had replaced every frown.