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Friday favorites: Christmas stuff

For those who are new or who might not know, I am Jewish. Which means that growing up, I didn’t have Santa or the joy of Christmas morning or even got remotely infected with the Christmas spirit (where I grew up in New York was predominately Jewish, too). The closest I came to celebrating Christmas was my freshman year of high school when I flew to Atlanta to with 2 of my friends to visit another friend who had moved there. She wasn’t Jewish so we got to experience her tree and all that good stuff. 

I liked that.

As for my family, we had some great Christmas traditions that typically involved eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas Day and also celebrating Hanukkah for eight crazy nights (and by crazy, I mean lighting candles and giving each other presents. We know how to party) because that’s what good Jews do. And I figured those would always be my traditions. 

Then I met my husband. And he’s definitely not Jewish. So we celebrate Christmas now and have different traditions and we’re probably a handful of houses that have a Star of David ornament on their Christmas tree. 

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Now that we’ve been together for 19 Christmases (including this one), it’s hard to imagine a time when Christmas wasn’t part of my December. 

Christmas lights. Sure, there were houses where I grew up that decorated for Christmas, including two that went absolutely overboard (in a good, only moderately tacky way) with their outdoor light displays, but now that I celebrate Christmas, I appreciate them more. They’re just prettier for reasons I’m struggling to explain. Also included in this: home decor, Christmas scented candles, 

The food. Holy hell, THIS is what I missed out on. Fudge. Christmas cookies. Fudge. Christmas dinner which is like Thanksgiving part 2. Gingerbread houses and men with frosting and candy and assorted other deliciousness. Fudge. Sure, potato latkes are fried perfection but they pale in comparison to all the other foods.  Sugar and fatness galore. This is part of why my yoga pants are my favorite. One caveat: No, absolutely no, eggnog for me. That shit is revolting.

Bonus: Here’s an easy recipe I found on Pinterest for fudge: combine 3 cups chocolate chips and one can condensed sweetened milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for one minute, stir, repeat until chocolate is dissolved in milk. Spread on wax paper in 9×13 dish, and chill for 1-2 hours. Cut into squares. Jana inspired variations: replace one cup chocolate chips with mint chips, peanut butter chips, or replace regular chocolate with white chocolate. This is mint chocolate with crushed candy canes. It tastes as delicious as it looks.


Movies. I had watched Frosty and Rudolph and the Grinch as a kid but now, as an adult with a child and as someone who actually celebrates the holiday, the movies are infinitely more enjoyable. And then there’s the whole host of Christmas movies that never meant anything when I was a kid but now I can’t imagine the holiday without: A Christmas Story (true story: I saw for the first time in 7th grade English class), Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which is really just The Gift of the Magi but with Muppets. I had this epiphany last year).

School vacations. Clearly, as a kid, I loved Christmas even as a Jew because thank you, two weeks off from school. Hard to beat that. Now the two weeks off from school means no early morning fights with the child to get her to school on time, no homework to help with, no lunches to pack, no wasting my time in the afternoon pick-up line, and no wondering what mystery object or paper will come home in her backpack. It really is a wonderful time of the year.

Presents. It sounds cliche, but I definitely love buying presents for others more than I like getting them for myself. I find it enjoyable to search for stuff my family wouldn’t buy for themselves, and the look on my daughter’s face when she opens her gifts is simply priceless. We also have a family tradition of buying for Toys for Tots, and knowing that some kid somewhere else is having a similar reaction to my daughter makes me happy, knowing that I did that (if you want to read about the time doing something like this really made a difference, read this post). 

Two Christmas traditions I’m still working on: sending cards and enjoying holiday music. I’m too lazy to send cards and the music doesn’t do it for me. I typically avoid it as much as possible. However. There are some songs that I do enjoy and in two weeks, we’ll go into my favorite Christmas songs. They’re probably not what you expect.

But so you don’t think I’m totally grinchy, here’s one that I love. It’s easy to figure out why.

 What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? What recipes should I try?

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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites



  1. Amanda

    The food is definitely my favorite! I’m the same as you… I love buying gifts for people! There’s just something about finding that perfect one for someone! I have to tell myself to stop sometimes because otherwise I”ll go overboard. It’s just such a rush though! hahah
    Amanda recently posted…My Favorite Christmas JamsMy Profile

  2. Linda sheridan

    I love the Jewish traditions and holiday celebrations! Nice that you combine both!
    One movie we discovered when Sean was a baby is the Muppet Family Christmas.
    We have an old VCR tape of that movie. It is a good one! I bake cookies and love
    Sending the snapfish picture cards. Pumpkin bread loaves are always in my fridge to eat or give away.
    I love giving perfect gifts and the joy and wonder on the faces of little ones at Christmas time!
    Have a happy weekend! Love, SMD’s Momma

  3. Nadine

    So, do you like fudge? It wasn’t clear above…hehehe 🙂

    I love ALL of the Christmas things! The lights, the trees, the movies, the music, the food, buying presents, wrapping presents, getting cards, the scents. Ahhhh it really is a magical time of year! If you want a Christmas card from Alabama…drop me your address. I am making them a thing again this year after years of lazy.
    Nadine recently posted…Friday FavoritesMy Profile

  4. lisacng @ expandng.com

    Crushed candy canes mint bark is such a great easy recipe and a good way to get rid of all those candy canes. I don’t like egg nog either! I love buying presents for people and sending cards. I can’t wait to decorate this year either because my son actually wants to. Hope the baby doesn’t pull down all the ornaments. Oh, another tradition is to buy a special ornament a year.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Favorite things giveawayMy Profile

  5. Dani

    The Christmas music is highly irritating- it’s the same ones over and over! I’ve never heard this one though- I love it!! Definitely a new favorite!
    Dani recently posted…An Epic WeekendMy Profile

  6. Kelli

    The lights have always been my favorite thing, well that and cookies.

    I sent Christmas cards last year but I’ve decided to skip it this year, it’s to much work and who really pays attention anyway?
    Kelli recently posted…Seashell Chronicles 12/1My Profile

  7. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout

    Send all your eggnog to me, I’ll send you fudge. I hate it — blech! I love looking at Christmas lights and I actually really love putting our Christmas card together every year. It’s a crapton of work (I have a huge family so we send out about 100 cards) but I love getting cards so I have to pay it forward.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…December Goals, and November Goals in ReviewMy Profile

  8. Darcy

    I LOOOVE Christmas fudge!!

  9. Jaclyn

    The FOOD is def. my favorite! My plans for this evening are to bake lots of christmas candies and cookies =)
    Jaclyn recently posted…Friday Features + New LookMy Profile

  10. Amber

    I also love the food that comes with Christmas. I also love the decorations.

    I always make sugar cookies with buttercream frosting. So good. The rest I usually buy from the store. Sometimes I also make no bake cookies.
    Amber recently posted…Why Elf On The Shelf Freaks Me OutMy Profile

  11. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    On the whole I’m not a fan of Christmas music, but I do have some favorites.

    I love all the lights everywhere!
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…I’ve got 99 problems but vacation ain’t oneMy Profile

  12. Tricia's Mostly Healthy Life

    I saw a simple recipe for fudge which included frosting. Whew, that is an awful lot of frosting to put in my mouth at one time but fudge makes it all worth it. I like that the 2 of you have combined traditions by putting the Star of David on your tree.

    I am with you, I love the decorations, lights, movies/cartoons and the FOOD!!
    Tricia’s Mostly Healthy Life recently posted…A Day with Thor- Good TimesMy Profile

  13. kathy@vodka and soda

    i’m not a big fan of christmas music playing alllll day but i love christmas lights and buying/wrapping presents!
    kathy@vodka and soda recently posted…the past 2 weeks in gifsMy Profile

  14. Mrs. AOK

    I think celebrating the holidays with children is even more “magical” than when I was a child. I’m incredibly happy to relive childhood through my children’s eyes this time of year 🙂
    I think it’s lovely that your family has melded both traditions.
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…Thank You Notes: Humble Pie, Backseat Warriors, & Precious MomentsMy Profile

  15. Stephanie

    Oh my holy candy fudge?! I need to do that right now. Christmas treats are definitely fantastic!
    Stephanie recently posted…Life Lately – Birthday MonthMy Profile

  16. Kerry

    I don’t tend to get all into the Christmas music especially when it is on 24/7 though Christmas movies I could watch all day. I love all the foods of course.
    Kerry recently posted…Holly Jolly Christmas By The SeaMy Profile

  17. kristen

    I love Christmas! Of course, my childhood was a lot different to what I am experiencing now, but the gist is the same. Presents, family, food. Haha!
    kristen recently posted…Weekending in StripesMy Profile

  18. Kate

    My mom makes huge batches of the bark every year. It’s always a big hit. I was too lazy for cards myself this year but since I don’t have pets or kids, nobody cares if I do or do not!
    Kate recently posted…Post-Thanksgiving crashMy Profile

  19. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    I’m with you on the eggnog. Good lord is it disgusting! I keep trying to get “Christmas spirit” but I hardly have any. I love the pretty lights and the candles. And although I don’t like Christmas music, it’s a lot more fun to play and sing on my ukulele, so that’s something…I hope. Would it be weird that Die Hard is one of my favorite Christmas movies? 🙂
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Movies That InspireMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      No weirder than Trading Places being one of my husband’s!

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