Christmas Spirit Wannabe


There truly is no act that can release as many endorphins as preparing for Christmas.

The perfect tree. The Christmas shaped gingerbread cookies. The ugly sweaters. But the one thing that trumps it all?

Christmas music. Particularly, Michael Buble.

Only one problem: I’m Jewish.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself an observant Jew. I did have a Bat Mitzvah and I do celebrate Hanukkah. I’ll admit, lighting the candles, old-fashioned dreidel spinning and prayer singing does have a certain cheer. But if we’re being honest here, it just doesn’t even remotely stack up to the Christmas spirit.

As I sit on my couch writing this, I stare off into the distance, my eyes catching the barren space on the wooden floor where my imaginary Christmas tree would fit oh so perfectly. Try as I might, and trust me, I’ve tried, my parents just won’t budge on the whole “Hanukkah bush” idea.

In the Hartog household, the phrase “go big or go home” doesn’t really apply. We prefer simplicity over extravagance. But let’s just admit it – celebration never hurt anyone.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I was a deprived child. Growing up, our holidays were much more festive. We observed all eight nights of Hanukkah, had our extended family over often and each had our own menorah on the table. However, this year, with one of my sisters moved out of the house and the rest of us having such busy lives, it seems Hanukkah Harry’s spirit was a bit of a let down. Our kitchen table was set with only one menorah and our prayers were not perfectly harmonized.

In order to compensate, I’ve been living vicariously through others this season, starting by accompanying my friend’s family to pick their beloved tree and decorate it with multitudes of ornaments, tinsel and string lights.

When it comes to Christmas, I just can’t get enough. While for me it may not be about the religion, I can still appreciate all the wonders it has to offer.

But when it comes to Christmas Eve, I fully intend on embracing my Jewish faith. I just couldn’t sleep through the night if I neglected the sacred, stereotypical evening filled with Chinese takeout, classic movies, a lit fireplace and holiday cheer throughout the entire house.