Why Christmas Is America's Storybook Holiday for All

Don't Fight Yule — Make Jewish Traditions Just as Compelling

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By Elissa Strauss

Published December 24, 2013.
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We are the ones who can open up our homes to more friends, pitch in for airline tickets for family members who live far away, cook one more traditional dish, guide one another in meaningful songs and prayer, and tell our children the colorful stories of our history as a people. We can commit to our traditions like they have committed to theirs.

I now celebrate Christmas every year. Don’t worry, don’t worry, not in my home. We do it at my half-Jewish husband’s parent’s place. Their Christmases are heartfelt and earnest.

There are lots of presents, sure, but there are also my mother-in-laws tins upon tins filled with Danish cookies and a house full of three generations eating meals together and sharing stories next to a delicately fragrant, twinkling tree.

Sure, its goyishe. And, well, I love it.

In a few years my son will be old enough to start getting excited for our annual Christmas trips to my in-laws. He will, I have no doubt, find great delight in the sugar, the sounds and the packages under the tree.

It’s up to me to make sure that I offer him something equally compelling from our traditions too. And, if I do it right, it might be more life-altering than even the bacchanalian Christmas of my youthful fantasies.


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