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Between The Lines: Christmas is magical, regardless of religion

The catchy carols, the breathtaking decorations and the cheerful spirit — how could anyone not love the Christmas season?

Growing up, however, I never expressed my true love of this joyous holiday all because of one mere detail: I’m Jewish.

I went to Friday night services, had my bat mitzvah and was confirmed at my religious school; all the while my love of Dec. 25 grew even more.

Sure, I stuck up for Hanukkah/Chanukah — let’s finally pick a way to spell it, shall we? But there is only so much one person can do to stick up for a holiday that the mainstream culture doesn’t give attention to during the season.

A recent trip to my hometown Target perfectly displayed that gap. On four shelves sat rows upon rows of a variety of Christmas-themed snow globes — angels, pine trees, Nutcracker characters and Santas galore — while only one Hanukkah snow globe (with only a lonely menorah within) sat awkwardly in the middle of it all.

See what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong, Hanukkah has its perks. I love eight days of presents; I still bug my parents to give all eight, because I refuse to be at the age when two or three presents is acceptable — eight days means eight presents, always. My father’s latkes (potato pancakes) are the greatest things I have ever eaten, and killing it at a competitive game of dreidel (a spinning top) is always a plus. But there is just nothing like the Christmas spirit.

People seem nicer (probably because of spiked eggnog), Christmas lights illuminate the night sky, a classic Christmas carol is on every radio station and an old man can give children presents without being seen as a pedophile. How could anyone not love it?

Many groan when they hear Christmas music playing so soon after Thanksgiving or when stores start setting up their Christmas display right after Halloween. Not me. My heart skips a beat as I think of the wondrous month ahead full of yuletide cheer.

But for some reason, people look at me strangely when I say that I love Christmas as fanatically as I do. “But you’re Jewish,” they say. “Is that allowed?”

I don’t actually think there’s some Jewish law against loving a holiday, but if there were, then I would break it! Though I’m not actually celebrating the true reason for Christmas — then I would understand there would be a problem here — I just love the spirit, traditions and culture surrounding the holiday.

Is that a crime?

Is it so wrong that some of my favorite movies ever are The Year Without a Santa Claus and Elf? Or that I consider How the Grinch Stole Christmas as one of the greatest pieces of literature our world will ever know? Or that the Elvis Presley Christmas album is one of the most played albums in my iTunes library? I think not.

So the next time you tell me it is wrong for me to love something that is just so right, look me dead in the eyes and tell me you never once dreamt about lighting a menorah or playing dreidel. You haven’t? Neither have I.

I dream about Rupert Grint in a Santa hat, bringing me a hot cup of cocoa while we sit by the yuletide fire and gaze at our magnificent Christmas tree adorned with an abundance of lights, tinsel and ornaments; all while Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas.”

You say obsession, I say love.

Shalom and Merry Christmas!

Meryl Gottlieb is a stringer for The Post’s culture staff. Do you love Christmas as much as she does? Email her at


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