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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.

Getting Buzzed at Zoo Lights

This has been a yearly xmas tradition of mine (made only slightly more complicated this year by the fact that I have a child). Pick yourself up one or two little bottles of your winter booze of choice, be it rum or whiskey or bourbon. Stop by the Starbucks across the street from the Zoo and pick up one of their wintery special drinks. My pick is the caramel apple cider. I know they have a ton of others that would probably be awesome with kahlua but they’re too super sweet for me; the goal of this is not to feel awful the next day or to get particularly drunk and I feel like walking around the zoo with a boozy Venti egg nog peppermint stick white chocolate espresso bomb sloshing around in your stomach spells disaster. Then take your enhanced beverage and take in the Zoo Lights. I mean I’m sure getting stoned or doing any other recreational drug would make the lights seem transcendent but for me I don’t need to turn Zoo Lights into a rave—I mean it’s magical for children.

The lights are nice but the real appeal for me is that fun, off limits feel of walking around the zoo at night. It has that From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler feel. It’s nice to see the animals be either grumpy or pleasantly surprised that there are humans galavanting during their sleeping hours or in the case of nocturnal animals they’re freaking jazzed they get to show off for once during their prime time.

Going to the Zoo at any time makes me feel a bit like a kid—the wonder of seeing animals in the middle of the city is pretty cool. Zoo Lights is charming without booze, by adding that super simple, relatively inexpensive alcoholic wintery beverage to the mix really ups the Christmas spirit for this sentimental Jewess.

Zoolights 2016

*We realize that Jews don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and also realize this isn’t really an Advent Calendar