As a Jew, I have always loved Christmas because I was included in friends’ and boyfriends’ (and eventually my husband’s) holiday, without the expectation of being at the top of my "Christmas game." I’d show up with gifts and/or booze and soak in all the cheer, without any of the drama. In fact, the things that happen when you're a Jewish mom spending Christmas with her partner's family, are nothing but a highlight of how wonderful it really and truly is to live in the best of both holiday worlds. Sure, I did long to decorate my own home and tried, as a kid, to convince my parents to put up “holiday lights,” since Hanukkah (Chanukah) is the festival of lights, I never felt like I missed out on anything by not being a "Christmas person." Even those times we hit the cineplex and gorged on Chinese food, the day always felt special.
I have never had a serious Jewish boyfriend over the end-of-the-year holidays (the one I had didn’t come into the picture until after New Year’s and he dumped me in April for not being "Jewish enough," since I didn’t keep kosher for Passover). Before I was married, I spent several Christmas Eves and Christmas Days with my Italian boyfriend’s family, eating some of my favorite all-time meals. With my husband’s Western New York family, his childhood home was made over in the spirit of the season, with a huge real tree and snow that stayed white for days (a novelty for this city kid). Before we had children, and started our own blend of holiday traditions, I loved traveling to Buffalo for Christmas to partake in his family’s annual celebration.
But as my partner’s singular Jewish guest at Christmas gatherings, I always felt like a bit of an outsider, even though I was included warmly into the fold. There are just some things you can count on happening, as a Jewish person, spending Christmas your significant other’s family, like the following: