It's true. It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas, as Kyle from South Park woefully sang a few years ago. Growing up, coming back to school after winter break always meant listening to my classmates bragging about the beautiful Xboxes and brand new wardrobes that they had received for Christmas. Back then, I felt like Lewis Black had it right: Hanukkah sucks!
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In time, I've learned to love Hanukkah, and even Christmas day - when the streets in the U.S. are blissfully empty, and the crazy Christmas sales and media-propagated madness come to an end.
But the question remains: What's a Jew to do on Christmas? Beyond ordering Chinese food and going to the movies, here are four unconventional things a Jew (or anyone else not celebrating Christmas) can do in the next couple of days:
Meet that nice Jewish guy/gal
Christmas is a great time to mingle with other Jews. If you're single, the Yuletide spirit can help you find your next mate. Matzo Ball dance parties take place in cities across the U.S. on December 24, along with lots of other local Jewish get-togethers. So put on your tacky Hanukkah sweater, and make your Ima proud, even on the most Christian of holidays.
Do your part
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities you can take advantage of on the holiday. In St. Louis, for example, a Jewish-Muslim Day of Service takes place annually, with activities ranging from serving holiday meals to delivering gifts.
This Christmas, put away the takeaway menus and throw your own Jewish-Asian dinner party. Take a cue from the geniuses behind Woks and Lox, who hold a huge communal dinner annually, blending Jewish and Chinese cultures. Sadly, this year they are on hiatus, but you can still check out their recipe guide for gems like red bean rugelach and matzo ball soup in shiitake ginger broth. YUM!
Ok, I know this is an annoying, no-fun option. But by working on Christmas you can secure a different day off - like the first night of Passover or Rosh Hashanah. Take the opportunity to work from home, or go to the office in the most comfortable clothes ever. I'll bring my pajama pants if you bring the peppermint hot chocolate.
So turn that frown upside down and stop moping! It's the one day a year when you can relax, enjoy the quiet, and go to all your favorite restaurants and bars without worrying about crazy lines and crowds. Merry Christmas!
Yael Miller lives in Washington, DC.