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10 Reasons Being a Jewish Parent in December Is the Best

Photograph by Getty Images

Growing up in a Jewish family, I harbored a fair amount of Christmas envy each December. The luscious scent of Fraser Fir trees enveloping entire homes had me believing people who lived with one in their den must be more joyous (and better-smelling) by osmosis.

The idea of cozying up near crackling fires and sipping hot chocolate while snow danced and twirled outside? Heaven, I imagined.

Twinkling white lights, cheerful wind-kissed cheeks peeking out from the hug of hand-knit scarves, and the endless buzz of mystery surrounding elegantly wrapped gifts rounded out what I believed to be the best time of the year—which was also the time I felt the most like the cheese standing alone.

Of course, other than the tree, most of that has nothing to do with Christmas. As an adult, and now a mom, I actually feel abundantly grateful not to have the burden of celebrating Christmas—a fact that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ and everything to do with everything else. Namely:

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1. Elf on the Shelf

Good lord. As if parents need the pressure of one more thing to do each day. And at night no less. Oy.

2. Harry Potter Elf on the Shelf

For the love of Voldemort, make it stop.

Because it's not bad enough when kids have some expectation that their moms will professionally craft at the kitchen table like a disciple of Martha Stewart during each spare moment. Now parents are expected to not only move the Elf on the Shelf each night, but also dress up this one fictional character like another? For the love of Voldemort, make it stop.

3. Eggnog

Sure, Jews have gefilte fish (which actually isn't as bad as you'd think—if you ignore the clear gelatin stuff and slather on the horseradish), but some thick, sweetened dairy drink made with raw eggs? We'll take the gelt and leave the nog for the Hollywood stars who need to up their protein intake to bulk up for a role in the next Rocky film.

4. Fruit cake

So you're telling me that because Jesus was born, it's now a tradition to gift people a baked good that could double as a hockey puck that everyone dislikes and no one will eat? Sounds ... fun.

5. Getting up before dawn on a non-work day

This sounds like something parents of newborns do.

This sounds like something parents of newborns do. Christmas morning used to be something I fantasized about. But much like prom and New Year's Eve, I've also come to realize that it's often just that: a fantasy. Show me someone who finds that Dec. 25 lives up to the hype, and I'll show you the fictional film that you're trying to tell me actually happened in real life (but never really did).

6. Keeping a secret

It's no secret that parents with small children often struggle with not only keeping Santa's secret safe, but also straddling that line of teaching them to live lives of integrity all while lying to them for the better part of their childhood. While I'm no saint (hello, Tooth Fairy), I can't imagine some kids don't go on to harbor a small amount of mistrust of the world after realizing that not only is Santa not actually in it, but their parents were instrumental in perpetuating the myth.

7. All. The. Buildup.

Much like a wedding, there seems to be an awful lot of build-up for a day that comes around just once a year. Not to mention all the work. And the shopping. And the money spent. Then—poof!—just like that, it's over, at which time, the clean-up begins and real life comes back into focus. It never looks quite as good as you imagine it should.

8. The travel

Traveling with kids is clearly a sign from some higher (or lower) power that there is, indeed, a hell. Traveling with kids during the holidays is that much worse. Kids' excitement at Christmas-time translates into more whining, more bribing, more dirty looks from strangers and more gray hair. And that's before the inevitable weather/mechanical/who-knows-why-we're-not-moving-because-the-flight-attendants-are-annoyingly-silent delays.

9. The misplaced gratitude

Teaching children about the spirit of the season is likely the best thing to happen to everyone in December. Watching them lose their shit, however, when Santa fails to provide a puppy (while still providing everything else on their wish list, and then some), will have their parents lose their faith in humanity.

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10. This

A thousand times this.

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