How to enjoy Christmas Unreligiously

IMG_20131225_222743_492OK, so unreligiously may or may not be a real word (it appears that it is but I don’t feel like changing the whole beginning),  but the message can’t be sent without making the point that specific religious doctrine often has nothing to do with what is seen as a religious holiday.  In the event that there are conservative minded Jewish people out there who would be critical of the fact that I, as a proud Jew would openly say that I am able to enjoy Christmas day, let me start by making a very important and more poignant point.  Many Jewish people celebrate Jewish holidays the way that I enjoy Christmas.  By enjoying getting together with friends or family, enjoying the food and having a fun day off of work, nothing they do on these holidays, sometime even the most solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, is specifically Jewish of action.  I stop short of saying it is not religious because you can make a valid argument that any time you show warmth and respect and love to anyone it’s a religious action, but that action is not indigenous to one group of people.  I personally apply specific Jewish action to many of my practices on the most important Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover, so when I say I enjoy Christmas, nothing about that is contradictory to my life as a Jew.

So with that said, here are my highlights from Christmas 2013.  Starting with Christmas Eve when I shared a drink with 2 housemates.  This was not just any drink though.  This was Sortilege.  If you are Canadian you very possibly know what this drink is.  Sortilege is Canadian whiskey mixed with maple syrup liquor which I experienced and enjoyed in Montreal when I visited a little over 2 months ago.  And yes, even though it is as sweet as it sounds, in a small glass over a cube of ice it’s really quite delicious.  After an early morning workout I did a few things I needed to get done and made my way to Queens.  Through my special friend, I received an invitation from her mother’s friend to come to her mother’s friend’s Christmas party at her home in Queens.  But first in stopping off at her mother’s house I received some wonderful gifts, most notably a very beautiful Hanukkah Menorah.  Personally I think it’s a great thing to receive a Menorah on Christmas, being as it covers all bases and the sentiments of so many people.  For the record, that takes nothing away from the other gifts I got, I just found there to be a cool significance in receiving a gift on Christmas that I could use in my personal religious practices.

Although the food was great, it was nothing I am used to eating and I may be answering for it for days to come.  But there are some situations where you just shut up and enjoy, and this was one of those times.  Injuries were minor this year, no one hit my head with a car trunk, other than the hostess burning herself on a tray of food, despite my special friend encouraging her to let me take out the food and get burned instead.

Once again the hostess’s 7 year old granddaughter was given an endless supply of presents while we sat around and watched her enjoy every one of them even if just for a minute.  She also showed a talent for giving nicknames as she provided one for everyone at the party.  For the record, in the future you can address me as Fun Guy Silly Man Boo.

On the way home I was taken to see a house so covered with lights you couldn’t even clearly make out the shape of the house.  However it was such a beautiful site that I was once again grateful to my parents for raising me with an appreciation for the non-religious aspects of non-Jewish holidays, allowing me to enjoy the views, the food, and the company without feeling as though I was compromising my values.  If anything I was staying true to my values together with people who in many ways share those same values.  Regardless of what religion they or I believe in.

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