"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."
- W.T. Ellis
"Cook a Glazed Ham on Christmas for a friend and you will never again, walk life's path alone. You also get to eat the ham."
Growing up, most of my close friends were Christians. When I was a kid, that simply meant that I celebrated Hanukkah and they celebrated Christmas. It was pretty simple. As a young child, I clearly remember being jealous of my friends come Christmas time.
There was no great logic behind it. It really had nothing to do with religion. None of my friends went to Church. I don't even think they went to Sunday School.
It was the power of Christmas.
It was the smell of the Christmas Tree.
It was the heat from the lights. The fabulous colors. The sheen off of the tinsel.
It was the music that filled the air; Right down to the subtle skip of the needle tracing across the vinyl.
It was a cozy fire, crackling on Christmas Eve and the anticipation of Christmas morning.
I remember how badly I longed for a red stocking of my own, with Jason written in script along the top.
But it wasn't meant to be.
I would sit at home and open my presents on Hanukkah or Chanukah or Hanukah or Hannukah or Chanuka or Chanukkah or Hanuka or Xanuka. WTF? There are at least 16 known ways to spell Channuka. How can anyone feel passion toward a holiday with that many spellings? Kids are smarter than that.
"But Hanukkah has 8 nights! That's 8 nights of presents. Far more lucrative than your Christian counterparts."
I'm not falling for that garbage. It's not the same.
We might have 8 nights but that just means, shittier presents, like mittens and UNO and stupid chocolate money.
It loses it's luster after the first night. It's like seeing the same movie over and over again. With all due respect, Hanukkah ain't no "Breakfast Club".
It's like comparing Atlantic City to Vegas.
They have a Christmas Ham. We have Latkes. How many spellings are there for that abomination?
Apples to Oranges.
Latkes to Ham.
About 13 years ago, all of this changed.
One of my Wife's best friends had started seeing a new guy. His name was Mike. We all liked him immediately. He was the kind of dude that could walk into a room and make you feel at ease. He was funny. He liked sports and he was Catholic.
One night when we were hanging out, we found ourselves talking about family. The holidays were fast approaching and he had mentioned to me that his family lived out of state. I asked him what he did on Christmas day. He said it had become too much to travel. We talked about how much he missed spending Christmas with his family and all the great things that came with it.
At that moment, it dawned on me.
Me - "Why don't we do Christmas day at my place?"
Mike - "You're Jewish."
Me - "So What?"
Mike - "You don't have to do that."
Me - "No. I want to. I'll even bake you a Ham."
Mike - "Seriously?"
Me - "With all the trimmings."
And so it began...
We did in fact have Christmas day at our place that year. About 12 people joined us. All of them Jewish. Except for Mikey. But he didn't care.
I even baked him a Ham.
Over a decade has passed since my first Christmas day at our home and the tradition has continued to thrive. At times, we've had upwards of 50 people join us.
It has nothing to do with religion. But it has everything to do with love, tradition and most importantly, friendship.
All those years ago, I wanted to make sure that a friend was able to spend Christmas with family.
In the end, I never did get a tree or even a Jason stocking for that matter but I did figure out what made the holidays so special. Ironically it had nothing to do with the Ham.
Or did it?
Over the holidays, I hope you were all Out-Numbered by Peace, Love and Ham...