By Denebola
Published: December 2008

By Mike Zissman

People might assume, given my religion, that I have spent these past few weeks buying eight Chanukah gifts for everyone in my family.

They would be right.

Every year my family and I light the candles, say the blessing, and then settle in for a relaxing game of dreidel while my mother cooks the latkes. The next day I go into school rocking my brand new tube socks, a gift from my great aunt, and making it rain as I toss handfuls of chocolate coins into the air.

Obviously, every Jew looks forward to Chanukah, but what about Christmas? In my house, there is no tree, no presents, and no lights. Our chimney has been clogged for eight years and I already ate all the milk and cookies. Yet, strange as it sounds, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.

To quote Fiddler on the Roof: “As Jews, we have traditions for everything. Customs for how we eat, how we dress, and even how we celebrate the birth of Jesus. My Christmas tradition, and a very common one in the Jewish community, is to pile the whole mishpacha in our minivan and go to the local kosher Chinese restaurant. There are many theories as to how this all got started. Some say G-d showed Moses how to make the first dumpling on the peak of Mount Sinai, while others maintain that the matzah the Jews ate when we left Egypt was really an early ancestor of the scallion pancake. Of course, this excursion is always followed by a trip to the movies. Last year it was I Am Legend, and this year we are trying to decide between Bolt and Madagascar 2.

Whatever the case, nothing makes me feel more festive than a plate of sesame beef and an animated epic. To me, Christmas is more than a celebration of Christianity. It is a celebration of togetherness, and you don’t have to be a wise man to know that every family can bond over food. So if you are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or a Christian who is looking for a little companionship, we would love to have you at my house. There is plenty of cashew chicken to go around.

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