Yes, I’m Jewish. Yes, I celebrate Hanukkah. Isn’t eight nights of a December (sometimes November) holiday enough?
No. No it is not.
I love Christmas. This does not mean I love Hanukkah any less. I mean latkas done right are the greatest (I’m a fan of crispy over thick), eight nights of presents rock (even when one of them is ALWAYS underpants—thanks, Mom), and playing dreidel was my first taste of the highs and lows of gambling.
But back to Christmas. Do I love/believe all (or any of) the religious aspects of the holiday? No. I mean cool if you do. But that’s not what I’m here for. Otherwise I’m here for SO many aspects of Christmas. The treats, the tree, the music, the capitalism. I’m down for all of it. This month, leading up to Christmas, I’m going to share with you all the things I love about xmas (including calling it “xmas”). Join me, won’t you? L’chaim.
Bottom line: I love food. Call me a “foodie” I don’t care. Eating is great, especially eating delicious things. I’m a huge Thanksgiving fan. Christmas dinners always seemed like a great companion piece to Thanksgiving.
I’ve been generally fascinated by the gentile habit of eating holiday dinners at 4 p.m. Growing up Jewish I wasn’t privy to the traditional Christmas dinner. It’s a cliché, but one that holds that many Jews have Chinese food for Christmas dinner because those establishments are open when others are not. My extended family bucked that tradition. We go to a German restaurant—Old Europe in Georgetown to be exact. I have a large maternal side of the family and since I was little, we would all have dinner in the basement of the German restaurant. The irony is not lost on me – insert awkward Holocaust “joke” here. Surrounded by a showcase wall of beer steins, we’d feast on German delights and drink mulled wine and a piano player would come downstairs and we’d all sing Christmas carols. So for years that was my experience of Christmas dinner, which is pretty bizarre and special.
Once I got married, I got the real deal—that coveted midday Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. But the extra treat for this Jewish girl who waited so patiently is that my mother in law is Greek so our Christmas dinner is the ham but also all sorts of Greek cookies and stuffing with lamb and pinenuts. Feta cheese pies also make an appearance. This Jew really can have it all! Apologies that this is basically one long brag about all the food I get to eat but sorry not sorry. In the spirit of inclusion, what’s a delicious must have at your Christmas dinners (I’d ask for recipes but I’d prefer deliveries of food to the BYT office)?