Minnesota Mamaleh: So What DO Jews Do On Christmas?


C’mon, you know you’ve always wanted to know. No church. No presents. No ham. What do we Jews do on the BIG 12-25? Well here it is. It all starts with a little gem known as “Winter Break” which just so happened to start TODAY. Timely, right?
Chloe and Brody woke up at the un-Godly hour of 5:AM.
Five. In the morning.
So I did what all good Mamas do. I sent them downstairs to play. I can still hear them yelling, fighting, grabbing, musical-instrumenting. But it’s not quite as loud as if we were, you know, in the same room together.
Kayli is still sprawled out in bed, covers kicked off, arms straight up above her head, no chance of her getting up before 8:00. That’s my girl.
Regardless of my ahem early risers, I’m blissfully, contentedly HAPPY to have everyone at home for the week. I know. Believe me, I know. The fighting! The mess! The D R A M A ! But I can’t help it. I love being able to say YES to them. Yes to jammys all day, yes to sledding and yes to messy projects. But only one per day. Because that’s my limit. Don’t judge.
Right smack at the heart of break and at the top of my LOVE-ABOUT-BREAK list? Is Christmas! That’s right, Christmas!
Before we get into tussle about this one, there’s no need to go there. No need at all. Remember? I’m still in my jammys and my kids have been up since 5:AM. I won’t be able to put up much of a fight. You’ll win hands down. But…


But, we can all agree that Christmas is blissfully, wonderfully different than any other day of the year. Stores are closed. We have the day off. Our non-Jewish friends are immersed in family and fun and nostalgia. And we can dedicate the day to much of the same.
On my part: I’m so in. And I’m so celebrating.
There’s no tree, no Santa and no Jesus. But there is Christmas at our house. And we all look forward to it every year. So here it is:

Our Top Five (Jewish!) Christmas Traditions!

1. We go sledding first thing in the morning. AKA: We wear them out, baby.
2. To ease the transition from, “Wheeeeeee! We’re sledding!” to “Wheeeeeee! We’re going home now.” I’m following the advice of a fabulous ECFE teacher and bringing something syrup-y and delicious to pour in the snow post-sledding and letting them eat up right there. Off of the ground. Believe it. Two notes about this one: First, the teacher suggested Mountain Dew. But I’m thinking that’s a bit um, too yellow? And second, I’m so not telling Jason about this part until we get there. Why? Because eating snow creeeeeps him out. And I’m pretty sure that eating flavored snow will not ease the creeeeepiness factor for him.
3. Fireplace, popcorn and hot chocolate with candy canes when we get home. Every year. Like clockwork.

To you! And me!

4. Chinese food. This right here is the bread and butter of a Jewish Christmas. I remember going out for Chinese food in San Francisco with friends, pre-marriage and pre-kids. It’s not quite the same vibe as taking three kids out for noodles slathered in soy sauce. But still: LOVE. My Israeli grandparents’ go-to celebratory food is Chinese food. One woman wrote her Master’s thesis about Jews and Chinese food. So I’m kind of thinking, the relationship between Jews and Chinese food? Is legit.
5. And, last but not least, we go to the movies. Come to think of it, it’s really more like Chinese food is the bread and going to the movies is the butter. The first year that Jason and I did the Christmas movie thing there were so many people at the theatre. I kept excitedly whispering, “Could they possibly ALL be Jewish?!” In my mind’s eye there was much happy bonding time with new Jewish friends RIGHT THERE. At the popcorn line. His response? No, Christians can come to the movies today, too. Right. But lots-o-Jews or not, the theater’s open and (at least in theory) everyone else is at home opening presents or at church praying, right? No lines!
And I’m not above admitting that right after that, is the best part of the day:
Blissfully, blessedly. B E D T I M E.
And as for Jason and I? We’ll probably watch a rerun of the Glee Christmas Special with hot buttered rums. Why? Because we can! Remember? It’s bedtime! So there you have it. That’s how this Jew celebrates Christmas with gasp my children! Merry Christmas to you. And seriously, Merry Christmas to me! May your day be cozy and warm, your noodles be long and covered (Soaking, even!) in soy sauce and your husband not cringe as you encourage your kids to eat snow. With syrup!