14 things I don't understand about Christmas

Christmas snow globe
Gina Park

Two quick facts about me: I'm a Jew and an American. And while the American in me wants to love Christmas, my Jewish side has no context for anything Christmas-related. I've never had a tree in my house. Never hung lights. Never stuffed a stocking. Never, umm, nogged an egg?

I'm a total Grinch, I know. But it's not because I dislike Christmas. I just don't get it. As Seinfeld has probably said at some point, “What's the deal with Christmas?” These 14 things in particular leave me clueless.

Tree shopping

Once you decide on plastic or a real tree, aren't they all basically the same? Why do families spend hours picking one? I've spent less time buying a car.

Christmas movies

A Christmas Story is about a future NRA member whose Dad wins a sweet lamp. It's a Wonderful Life is 99% depressing. You watch them every year? Granted, rewatching Die Hard is a great use of time, but that's not a Christmas movie, that's a timeless classic that happens to take place on Christmas Eve.


Chanukah is eight nights, so I used to get awesome (but small) gifts each night. Eight presents is a ton! And every year in school, I'd hear about the millions of gifts kids would get for Christmas. It did not seem possible. Did people's parents go broke every December?

Nativity scenes

Ok, so you get together a bunch of mannequins and put them in front of your house? Then again, it'd be pretty baller if my parents made a mannequin of me absolutely crushing my bar mitzvah speech, and put it in front of their house every year. Gonna steal that idea.

Christmas lights

Why are they always in a ball? Have people not heard of twisty-ties?


Why do you still use the same ones from when you were a kid? When I come home for the holidays, my Mom doesn't put my arts & crafts from fifth grade on the fridge. Probably because I have no arts & crafts skills, but still!

Christmas ham

I don't understand the appeal of ham in general (bacon, I get), but I'm especially lost why it's so entwined with Christmas. See, with Chanukah, latkes make sense. When the Maccabees were fighting Antiochus' army, they needed sustenance. So obviously they ate potato pancakes. It's been a while since I've been in Hebrew school, so I'm hazy as to why.

Midnight Mass

I feel like this is a secret party. It's even AT MIDNIGHT. Chris Hardwick should host it.


No one has feet that big. And you put them so close to the fireplace! That's a fire hazard!

Santa Claus

If I saw an old man with a white beard in a red tracksuit who was inviting kids to sit on his lap, I would call the cops, not give him $30 to take a picture with him.

Mrs. Claus

This is like if everyone decided that the Easter Bunny had a wife, and that we need to care about her too.


Obviously these are seasonal workers on hiatus from the Keebler factory.


I love eggs. I love milk. But this is confounding. You drink the eggs? With milk?! If you do CrossFit and you need a snack, sure. But otherwise...?

Everyone's in a good mood

Many of the Jews I know communicate by complaining. It says a lot about me that seeing everyone in high spirits feels wrong. Inauthentic, even. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Lee Breslouer writes about food and drink for Thrillist, and thinks Christmas lights are pretty. Follow him to lumps of coal: @LeeBreslouer.