By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Dec 02, 2013 at 3:32 PM Photography: shutterstock.com

I’ve never made a big secret about the fact that I’m not crazy about Christmas. As a Jewish person, I don’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 I’m long past the point of feeling sad because I’m different. Now I cherish it, but I do feel empathy for the little Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or atheist kids who don’t celebrate Christmas, because for six or so weeks, it is everywhere and there’s no escaping it.

Believe it or not, though, there are a few things I like about Christmas. As Hanukkah – the earliest one in a long, long time – wraps up, here are eight of my favorite:

  1. People being nice to each other: I wish Christmas spirit extended 12 months a year, but I’ll take what I can get. Whatever reason people choose to be peaceful and polite is a good one. That’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.
  2. Time off of work: The benefit of not celebrating Christmas is that I don’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 Year’s. For me, it’s a chance to relax and recharge. I love it.
  3. 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. It’s usually crowded and insane with other dining Jews, and we love it.
  4. Blockbuster movie releases: I’ve seen some of my all-time favorite movies on Christmas. This year, I think it will be "Anchorman 2."
  5. Sleigh Ride: I said I hated all Christmas music, but that’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.
  6. Frosty: Like every other kid, I watched Christmas specials as a kid. Not surprisingly, most didn’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.
  7. Egg Nog: I would drink this all year round if it was available.
  8. Pitchers and catchers report soon: Once Christmas is over, it’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.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.