It’s that time of year when visions of sugarplums dance in your head… or if you’re Jewish , like me, it’s more like visions of plum sauce. Growing up Jewish, every Christmas my parents and I would make an excursion to Chinatown and stuff ourselves with lo mein and wontons. If I had been a very good girl that year, I’d get a poo-poo platter! Then, we’d see a movie and call it a night. I never felt slighted, as I had Hanukkah and generally got a ton of presents. As I got older, I continued this tradition with friends of my same faith. Until this year.
I am so bored of the same old routine and even though it’s supposedly it’s the 11th commandment, “Thous shall indulge in Chinese food every Christmas.” I need to mix it up. I admit to having some FOMO about Christmas. What am I missing out on? Can’t I enjoy sparkly lights and a reindeer with a glowing nose too? There’s gotta be some other ways for us non-Christians to enjoy the spirit of the season without an MSG hangover.
Here are 10 options for members of a different tribes to enjoy and participate in the delight of Christmas.
This time of year is about giving back, no matter what your religious or cultural affiliation. What better way to do that than to volunteer at a local soup kitchen or hospital? Staff is usually low on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and people usually welcome the extra hands. Look up local shelters or children’s wards and see what they need. Some cities have programs where you can deliver toys to children whose families can’t afford to buy them gifts on Christmas. Become a Santa’s helper and spread some serious joy!
2. Get Cookin’
Food is a big deal with Jews. We love share stories over a dinner table. Cook up a nice meal and have an open house for friends who couldn’t make it home for the holidays. Bring a plate to a neighbor who might be lonely, or infirmed. You can always save the rest for leftovers!
3. The Matzo Ball!
It ain’t just a ball of carbs! About 20 cities all over the country have an annual dance called The Matzoh Ball for Jewish singles to meet and share the FOMO of Christmas. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet a nice doctor while sipping on some non-Manischewitz wine?
4. Visit a Skating Rink, or Other Outdoor Activities.
Baby, it’s cold outside, (unless you’re a lucky duck and live in a warmer climate), so put on those layers and strap on a pair of skates. The rink will probably be empty and you can have the run of the place. Maybe take a stroll in a park with a thermos of hot chocolate or if it’s snowing, grab a sled and revisit the childlike joy of speeding down a hill without being able to feel your nose.
5. See a show!
Lots of theaters, comedy and improvisation clubs are open on Christmas. It’s a fun way to be with people and get into a festive mood without attaching a religious sentiment on the day. Who doesn’t like a good laugh with a two drink minimum?
6. DIY it, Bae.
Now would be a good time to paint the kitchen, clean the closets, hang that picture and generally clean out your space in preparation for the New Year. Maybe get a friend to help you and make a night of it with some eggnog ( with rum, of course.) You can always shred old receipts and bank statements by the fire to Barbra Streisand Christmas album.
7. Help a Friend With Kids!
Many parents have a stressful time with Christmas. Putting together toys, wrapping presents and preparing for family to convene can be overwhelming. Lend a hand! Go over a buddy’s house with kids and read them a story while their parents prepare for the big day. I like this one for the little ones.
Help bake cookies for Santa and maybe snag a few yourself. We jews love a good, buttery Christmas cookie… or five.
8. Get in Touch.
It’s a great time of year to call people you haven’t talked to in a really long time. It’s that vicious cycle of you waited too long to return that call and now it’s weird. It’s Christmas! Your perfect excuse to pick up the phone and spread good cheer. Maybe make a list of people you miss, or you owe a call, or you simply just want to say hey ( exes do NOT count, by the way…). This is strictly a non-drama filled activity, meant to bring you peace and joy.
9. Write it Down!
It’s the closing out of another year and it’s always good to look back ( but don’t stare- it’s rude!) to where you’ve been. Take pen to paper and write out the ways you’ve grown this year and what you want to achieve in 2016. Maybe make a gratitude list and share it with people who contributed to being your some love and support this past year. Write about your wishes, goals and dreams for the year ahead and some practical steps you can take to get there. As always, add wine as needed.
10. Get Out of Town!
If you can afford to, rent a cabin or go to a spa or little bungalow by the sea. Prices on the actual day of Christmas will fall if places haven’t booked up. Flying on Christmas is always cheaper than before the 25th and lots great last minute deals are out there. Sometimes it’s nice to have a change of scenery on a day that’s typically spent with family. It’s ok to go solo and have some ‘me’ time!