By Ellen Karis
“I want to be a Comedian and Actress, I want to follow my passion and do what makes me happy” I proclaimed.
“But you have good accounting job” she barked back with a thick Cypriot accent.
“But I am miserable and never want to say I did not try”, I pleaded, then after a 10 second pause, she looked at her fork full of Baked Fillet of Sole drenched in lemon, you could smell it from across the table and said “Ho-k, lossa luck to you” and that is how I broke the news to my Yiayia Tessie that I was changing, in 180 degree fashion, my career.
Don’t worry about Yiayia, she thoroughly enjoyed her main course and later a honey dripping piece of Kadaifi and a cup of steaming Sanka, she brings her own orange packet.
Growing up a Greek woman, even today, still has a set of expectations: the proper schooling that yields a good career, marriage, children and getting involved in some capacity with your Church. Well, I did get a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, a CPA, an MBA in Finance and worked for a few Fortune 500 companies. I did get married, that one was a nail-biter but it eventually happened, phew. However, having children and Church were slipping by me quickly.
Not a surprise, God in his infinite way of making sure that the duties that He has set out for you are performed, changed that for me by gifting me with a total tally of 9 Godchildren. He knew I could do it because I had the time, I needed to be connected to children in my life and have one of the best Godmother’s a person could ask for.
It was my Godmother who introduced me to the arts, she took to my first play when I was 4 at Lincoln Center and that started our theatre trend. She took me to museums, read books to me, lots of books because she was an elementary school teacher and later on a librarian. She too had no children of her own, but treated me, my siblings and cousins like her own.
She laid the groundwork for what it is to be a Godparent in our Orthodox Christian Faith. It was not just showing up at my Birthday parties armed with gifts or passing me cash in an envelope for graduation, it was real second parent relationship and part of that was her teaching me about our faith by taking me to Church and passing on her liturgical knowledge.
Fast forward to over a decade ago, one of my sisters had an almost 4 year old, my Goddaughter, and a 2 year old. It was really bothering me that she was not taking the girls to Church, not understanding how intense minute by minute demands are with two very young children.
One day, I mentioned to her that by the time we were 4 we knew how to recite The Lord’s Prayer” in Greek. She admitted that she wanted to take the kids to Church but was too frazzled and asked if I would take the 4 year old to Sunday School at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in our NYC neighborhood. The next Sunday, I take my Goddaughter downstairs to the Sunday School and it was bedlam. I didn’t want to leave her because I knew I had an obligation to return her, so I stayed in the class asked the teacher if she needed a helping hand and 13 years later, I am still teaching Sunday School.
For the past 6 years I have taught the 10-13 year age group but prior to that, I had the 4-6 year olds and wanted to make sure they learned about who their Godparents are. I scoured the internet, Orthodox Faith online bookstores, Amazon and came up with lots of Name Day, Baptism and Saints books, but none on specifically Godparents.
I decided, with encouragement from my own Godmother and some of my fellow parishioners, that a book on Godparents was a great idea. I had the text in my head, which was a reflection of my relationship with my Godmother. I wanted to convey how important, special and the meaning behind why someone is your Godparent and the relationship that you can have with them even as an adult.
Having found a fabulous illustrator I was able convey what illustrations I wanted for each page in conjunction with combing through my own photos and was able to create my book “Special People: Godparents in the Orthodox Christian Faith”, which makes a great gift item and teaching tool.
I am very proud of how it turned out and look forward to it being on the bookshelves of many Orthodox Christian homes and Churches.
My New Children’s Book: “Special People: Godparents in the Orthodox Christian Faith”-on Amazon!
Weekly Podcast: “Karis Comedy Corner”: http://kariscomedycorner.libsyn.com
Stand-Up Clip: https://youtu.be/erp2x2UBlvo
Greek-American Stand-Up Clip: https://youtu.be/fwgBIKsbZpk
YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/c/EllenKaris
Twitter and Instagram: @GreekChickComic
Facebook: Ellen Karis “Greek Goddess of Comedy”