Parenting

16 Christmas Traditions My Jewish Family Will Never Give Up

Contrary to popular belief, Jewish Americans love Christmas for just as many reasons as our gentile counterparts do. We’re always up for a good party and while we may not eat everything at the buffet, we’re sure to enjoy a cookie or two. In fact, there are a number of things my own family enjoys about the Christmas holiday that we’re looking forward to passing on to the next generation of Jewish American Christmas lovers in our midst.

1. Chinese Food

The cuisine that transcends the Judeo-Christian divide while remaining humble enough to pursue Kosher certification.

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2. The Yule Log Channel

Who doesn’t want to sit in front of a warm fire on a cold evening? Besides, what else are we going to watch all day? TNT’s A Christmas Story marathon?

3. A Christmas Story Marathon

Who am I kidding? I love Ralphie Parker! I love his parents, too, and even Randy, his picky-eater of a brother. I love the Bumpus hounds, the leg lamp, and above all else, the “Red Ryder BB gun with a compass and a stock and a thing that tells time.” (Yes, I typed that from sheer memory.)

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4. Christmas Light Rides

while pondering how many strands we can get on sale in January to update the bar downstairs. Oooh, twinkle lights! Speaking of which…

5. Clark Griswold’s Christmas Eve Rage-fest

Because it really is the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny F’ing Kaye in this comedy classic. (Everyone, everyone, has a cousin Eddie.)

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6. Plates of Christmas Cookies from Local Church Carolers

True story: My in-laws moved into their house right as Christmas was approaching. Despite their total lack of Christmas décor they somehow managed to get personally caroled to by at least a dozen members of the church around the corner, who then happily handed them a platter of cookies. My father-in-law was more than delighted to say thanks and Happy New Year from the Goldbergs.

7. Shopping Christmas Sales

Because, hello, SALE. We don’t pay retail. It’s not American.

8. Admiring Friends’ Christmas Tree Ornament Collections

Hallmark really has it down to a crafty little science, don’t they? Can someone explain why the kids don’t think the ornaments are the toys?

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9. Laughing at the Shmuck Trying to Tie Down a Tree to the Roof of His Prius

Nothing shows your love for the environment more than chopping down a tree and letting it die a slow death on your living room floor. At least there’s one thing we don’t have to feel guilty about.

10. Ruining the Dreams of Little Children about Santa

“He’s a fake you know.” That’ll teach you to pick on me in gym class, sucker. (Word of warning: do that nowadays and you and your kid might get sent to mandatory sensitivity training.)

11. The Homage to Rube Goldberg that Is Home Alone

Kevin McCallister’s mom was Jewish, I swear.

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12. Betting on How Many Wine and Beer Bottles You’ll Hear Clinking into Your Neighbor’s Recycling Cans on Christmas Night

There is a serious amount of drinking going on this time of year. Are you sure it isn’t Purim?

13. Marveling at that Most Eternal of Gentile Mysteries: Fruit Cake

An entire generation of women found it acceptable to give their friends juicy cake in a tin can. It’s the Spam of holiday giving.

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14. Smiling at the Hosts Bugging Out About Having to Cook a Holiday Spread

My in-laws don’t consider it a holiday meal unless two types of meat are served. And technically we observe a religious holiday Every. Freaking. Week. But please, tell me how many hours you slaved over that ham with the little pineapple slices. That’s cute. Are the maraschino cherries supposed to represent Rudolph?

15. Getting an Actual Day Off…

…without having to spend six hours praying? Why do you think we came to America? And how do you folks get away with only two major religious holidays a year?

And my personal favorite:

16. Watching the Whole World Love on a Jewish Guy

It’s nice to be popular for a change. Go on, you know you love us. And you’re welcome.

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