Iâ€™ve never made a big secret about the fact that Iâ€™m not crazy about Christmas. As a Jewish person, I donâ€™t celebrate it, and growing up, it mostly served to remind me that I was different than my friends. I still find it tacky and garish, and Christmas music is like fingernails on the chalkboard.
But Iâ€™m long past the point of feeling sad because Iâ€™m different. Now I cherish it, but I do feel empathy for the little Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or atheist kids who donâ€™t celebrate Christmas, because for six or so weeks, it is everywhere and thereâ€™s no escaping it.
Believe it or not, though, there are a few things I like about Christmas. As Hanukkah â€“ the earliest one in a long, long time â€“ wraps up, here are eight of my favorite:
- People being nice to each other: I wish Christmas spirit extended 12 months a year, but Iâ€™ll take what I can get. Whatever reason people choose to be peaceful and polite is a good one. Thatâ€™s why I take no offense in you offering me a Merry Christmas instead of a Happy Holidays. I appreciate your well wishes, your good mood and your optimism for the year ahead.
- Time off of work: The benefit of not celebrating Christmas is that I donâ€™t have to spend Dec. 24 or 25 mired in busy travel, stressful family reunions or any of the other headaches I hear reports of. In fact, Jeff and I at OnMilwaukee.com have our own Christmas tradition: we give our employees the week off between Christmas and New Yearâ€™s. For me, itâ€™s a chance to relax and recharge. I love it.
- Guaranteed Chinese food: For at least 15 years, my friends Corey and Laura (and now my wife Velia) have joined me for a Christmas Eve dinner at Yen Ching restaurant. Each year, we order the same things and toast with a Mai Thai to our annual tradition. Itâ€™s usually crowded and insane with other dining Jews, and we love it.
- Blockbuster movie releases: Iâ€™ve seen some of my all-time favorite movies on Christmas. This year, I think it will be "Anchorman 2."
- Sleigh Ride: I said I hated all Christmas music, but thatâ€™s not entirely true. The one song I like is the instrumental version of "Sleigh Ride." It reminds me of band in high school, practicing to learn that tricky song on the alto sax. I bet I could still fumble through that jazzy middle part today.
- Frosty: Like every other kid, I watched Christmas specials as a kid. Not surprisingly, most didnâ€™t do all that much for me, but I loved "Frosty the Snowman." I look forward to passing down that tradition as a parent, too.
- Egg Nog: I would drink this all year round if it was available.
- Pitchers and catchers report soon: Once Christmas is over, itâ€™s only like seven weeks until the Brewers start playing baseball in Maryvale. The days are slowly getting longer. The worst is now behind us.
Bonus: this incredible video.
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